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The One Ring Forums: Off Topic: The Pollantir:
How old were you when you first encountered death?
Poll: How old were you when you first encountered death?
12 and under
a teenager
young adult
midlife-ish
not until I was getting on in years myself
View Results (29 votes)
 

Annael
Immortal


Mar 24, 4:25pm

Post #1 of 20 (6074 views)
Shortcut
How old were you when you first encountered death? Can't Post

I know, a bit morbid, but I have a reason for asking: I think the earlier in life one is when one first loses someone close, the more it affects attitudes about, well, life. So if you are inclined, any thoughts you have to share about that?

I'm vague about my age categories on purpose. Define them as you will.


(This post was edited by Ataahua on Mar 24, 6:00pm)


Thor 'n' Oakenshield
Rohan


Mar 24, 5:56pm

Post #2 of 20 (5994 views)
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I was, I think, 10? [In reply to] Can't Post

When my great-aunt died. I had known her for some time before that, because she lived in New York so we would go down to visit her pretty regularly. But when she died, I don't remember how it affected me. I mean, did it shape me as a person? No, I don't think so. Did it make me very sad for a rather long time? Yes, I think so.
Then, when I was 13, maybe, I lost my grandmother - I had barely ever known her, though. We would go to her house a few times per year, but our family always had a rough relationship with her: I still don't fully know why, but I just know that when she died, we learned of it from my grandfather, who called my mom - and, well, it affected her more than it did me. I just never knew my grandmother very well, so I didn't know how to feel.
So, I don't really know how it affected me. I'm sorry I can't really answer the question that well!


Annael
Immortal


Mar 24, 11:43pm

Post #3 of 20 (5969 views)
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I was 11 [In reply to] Can't Post

first my grandfather died; I didn't know him well as we lived on opposite sides of the country, but I was sad for my dad. Then my aunt & uncle lost a newborn baby to respiratory distress syndrome; again, I didn't know the baby but was sad for them. Then my 10-year-old brother was killed in an accident, and that had a huge impact on me - took me another decade to really get over it, as much as one can. Then John Kennedy was shot. It was not a good year.

I asked the question because I think all of this made me the person I am, I starting asking questions like "why are we here?" and "what is our purpose?" and "why do bad things happen to good people?" I've basically been a seeker ever since then.


(This post was edited by Annael on Mar 24, 11:46pm)


dernwyn
Forum Admin / Moderator


Mar 25, 12:03am

Post #4 of 20 (5964 views)
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A junior in high school. [In reply to] Can't Post

He was one of my friends from the Senior class, a fellow "mathlete"; we had just had a competition that Thursday. This was in the days long before social media. That Sunday, as I was reading the paper, I saw his obituary. I called my best friend on the phone, another senior and fellow mathlete (and Tolkien nerd), and she had heard what had happened. He had some medical issues which we'd never known about, and Saturday morning, as he went to get up out of bed, a blood clot lodged in his heart, and killed him instantly.

I think I was in shock about it, more than anything else; I had no idea how to react. Graduation was only a couple of months away. He had been working on an essay for English class, about John Donne's "Death Be Not Proud".

The school let many of us leave classes to attend his funeral. His name is on a plaque beside a tree planted in front of the school that summer, along with 6 other names: the Class of '71 lost seven of its 450 students, to illness, accidents, and Vietnam (never drop out, kids!).

And now: often when I get up in the morning, and put my feet on the floor, I think of that friend who never would get up again. And I feel it deeply whenever I hear of young lives cut short.


dernwyn
Forum Admin / Moderator


Mar 25, 12:15am

Post #5 of 20 (5963 views)
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"as much as one can" [In reply to] Can't Post

What a terrible loss at a young age! I'm so sorry. It's like a wound that will never heal.

And makes me glad that you're able to be with your Dad now. A *hug* to him (& you).


Eldy
Gondor


Mar 25, 3:43am

Post #6 of 20 (5945 views)
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I think I was nine [In reply to] Can't Post

To the best of my memory, my last two surviving great-grandparents died within a few months of each other in 2004. I think the second one (a paternal great-grandmother) died shortly before my birthday in August, so I would have still been nine. I don't remember a whole lot from before that age, but I don't think I had a very clear sense of what death was prior to that. Not outside the context of pets dying, anyway (we lost a cat when I was five which is one of the very few clear memories I have of that age).


(This post was edited by Eldy on Mar 25, 3:43am)


Darkstone
Immortal


Mar 25, 5:26am

Post #7 of 20 (5940 views)
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Four. [In reply to] Can't Post

Mrs. Redwine, the nice old lady next door, passed away. I recall attending her funeral in a very small rural church. I became worried about whether I'd go to Heaven or Hell. I became very adamant about attending Sunday school. And scrounging up pennies to put in the offering plate. I started listening to televangelist Oral Roberts' radio show. He said he'd send you a picture of Jesus for a dollar. I saved up my pennies and sent off for it. Watched the mail for days. When it came I was very disappointed it wasn't a photograph. As a result, even though I've always tried to be devout, I've also been skeptical of God's representatives here on earth.

So I was always aware of my mortality. As a kid I used to worry about it a lot, and Mom and Dad were kinda concerned about it. So much so that when they read the Bible to me at bedtime, they'd heavily censor the stories so as to not be so fire and brimstone.

When I learned to read, Mom and I took a bus to the library just about every Saturday. I'd read and check out a very eclectic selection of religious books. Oddly enough I viewed all the various religions as valid, even mythology.

Eventually I just accepted death as inevitable. As I near the end of my life I approach death with curiosity, and look to be reunited with my loved ones.


Starling
Half-elven


Mar 25, 6:28am

Post #8 of 20 (5933 views)
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I was eight [In reply to] Can't Post

when my father died suddenly at home. It was a few days after Christmas and before my birthday, which are just over a week apart. I've had better days.


Kelvarhin
Half-elven


Mar 25, 9:14am

Post #9 of 20 (5924 views)
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I was six [In reply to] Can't Post

one of my classmates was murdered by a teenage boy. My parents didn't handle it very well and basically ordered my brothers and I not to mention it.


Annael
Immortal


Mar 25, 2:45pm

Post #10 of 20 (5875 views)
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that was how my parents reacted [In reply to] Can't Post

we didn't even have a funeral, and my dad forbade us to talk about it because it "would upset your mother."

Later on they realized this was the worst possible way to deal with a death. My sister & I both went to counseling on our own, and at one point my counselor insisted that my parents come in for a session with him, which was the first and only time I know of that my dad cried. But it was still a taboo subject at home. Finally I got all my sibs together and we talked . . . and have continued to talk about our brother.

I think the issue with my parents is that they both felt so horribly guilty. Parents are supposed to protect their kids, sort of thing. Voicing grief is one thing, voicing shame quite another. (Especially for New Englanders who button everything inside anyway.) In my counseling I came to see that the whole thing was just beyond their ability to deal with, and forgave them.


Annael
Immortal


Mar 25, 2:51pm

Post #11 of 20 (5872 views)
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in my home town [In reply to] Can't Post

we would lose a senior boy every year around graduation time. Two years before I graduated, it was the very popular (with everyone) all-around athlete & good student who committed suicide. Turned out he had a brain tumor. But most years it was some kind of auto accident or motorcycle accident. In my year the guy wasn't killed but blinded when he went over the handlebars of the motorcycle his parents had given him for graduation. So there was always a sense that graduating meant stepping into a world of new dangers.


Annael
Immortal


Mar 25, 2:54pm

Post #12 of 20 (5873 views)
Shortcut
I like the metaphor [In reply to] Can't Post

that God is at the center of the wheel and all the different religions are spokes on that wheel, leading to the same place even if their starting points might be widely separated. The mystics of every religion tend to say similar things . . .


Darkstone
Immortal


Mar 25, 5:07pm

Post #13 of 20 (5861 views)
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Yes [In reply to] Can't Post

As Hillel the Elder said:

That which is hateful to you do not do to another. That is the entire Torah. All else is commentary.
-Shabbat 31a


Elberbeth
Tol Eressea


Mar 27, 3:36pm

Post #14 of 20 (5636 views)
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I was 8 when my paternal grandmother died [In reply to] Can't Post

and she was followed by my grandfather less than two months later. I can't fathom how my Dad felt, he had moved them to Canada from Britain only about five years previous. Then my maternal grandparents were both gone by the time I was 12.


DanielLB
Immortal


Mar 28, 7:37pm

Post #15 of 20 (5556 views)
Shortcut
I was around 3 or 4, [In reply to] Can't Post

when my great-grandmother passed away. I remember visiting her in the hospital, and looking around the room at the funeral wondering why everyone was crying. I knew it was sad, but I didn't know *why* it was sad. I always told my parents how these events traumatised me at such a young age.

And it never gets easier. My grandad passed away a last month. It was traumatic at 3, and it's still traumatic at 29.


Aunt Dora Baggins
Immortal


Mar 28, 9:26pm

Post #16 of 20 (5550 views)
Shortcut
I didn't vote because I'm not sure exactly what "encounter" means [In reply to] Can't Post

I was five when a classmate in my nursery school died. The teacher told us she was a flower and God picked her for his garden, which made no sense at all to me. Whenever I wanted to cry at will as a kid I would think of her. But I don't think I was really close to her.

Now that I think of it, my first experience with real grief was the family cat when I was four. I remember standing at the back door and looking out at the world, and it looked so empty.

I was ten when my grandfather died, and lost my grandmothers in my adult years.

I was 52 when my mother died, which has been my biggest grief so far. But the loss of beloved pets has been right up there.

I have been acutely aware of death since I was four, and always felt like life was slipping away. I didn't like turning 12 or 18 or 21 or 30 or 40. Those milestones felt like rushing toward death. Maybe being raised by parents who had no belief in an afterlife had something to do with it.

Grandmaboodawg's 50th birthday post here was a huge help to me when I turned 50 myself.

Now I watch my father slipping away with Alzheimers, and even dear Uncle Baggins becoming a bit vague as he ages. It feels like grief is all around me.

I don't fear my own death as much as I used to since my stroke at age 58, because I felt like I touched it and it was nothing but peaceful. But I fear loss as loss upon loss starts to pile up.


ElanorTX
Grey Havens


Apr 2, 8:14am

Post #17 of 20 (5166 views)
Shortcut
Not counting deaths of elderly relatives, I was 10 when a neighbor my age [In reply to] Can't Post

was hit and killed while riding his bike on our street. I didn't witness the accident, but attending the funeral and losing a playmate to such a sudden and unpredictable fate made death seem closer and more fearsome.

The public deaths of JFK, RFK, and MLK made me cry for them and for the manner of death.
In my twenties I lost two friends to suicide. Never saw it coming.
Not until my forties did I actually hold someone's hand as they died: first, a good friend, and less than two years later, my husband. Both had cancer, so at least there was time for anticipatory grief and to say good-bye.

When my parents died twelve weeks apart, as the eldest survivor and new head of family I was at first very busy with tasks. Only later did sorrow set in.

As I grow older my attitudes about life continue to change. In fact, I am taking a course now based on Being Mortal by Atul Gawande, a surgeon, recognized author, and MacArthur "genius" fellow.

I believe life is meaningful but fragile. My religion tells me that the afterlife is a joyous place of worship and reunion; sometimes I wonder.


Thank you, Annael, for bringing up this topic.


(This post was edited by ElanorTX on Apr 2, 8:26am)


swordwhale
Tol Eressea


May 7, 3:47pm

Post #18 of 20 (4352 views)
Shortcut
wow [In reply to] Can't Post

some of you have had some traumatic experiences...

I grew up with dead cats. They were always kept outside, and ended up squashed on the road. Average any of them lasted was a year or two. Pretty sure this trauma (cats are my favorite thing) is still with me, I am near paranoid about someone else leaving a door open and letting the present cats out.

A local kid drowned in a ditch. Scary and at the same time, I was young enough to not quite know how to react. (I took up various water sports and learned to swim).

The second pony my dad got me was a wild black thing I named Fury after the TV show I adored. Dad injured his back, gave the pony to a relative, and it died of colic. I was 29 before another equine death led to a real wild black mustang I adopted and trained. By then, I could see "the circle of life" thing happening... without the first two deaths, I would not have had the wild black mare (named in Elvish: Olori Eldalie).

Grandparents died when I was a teen, not all that close to either one, though Grandpa (a stoic if ever there was) lived with us the last couple years. He died in our home. Slightly creepy somehow, yet comforting for him, I'm sure, to be surrounded by family. (lemme burn some more sage and hope that ghost is gone)...

A couple years ago, one of my dogs died. An SPCA rescue who was older than we thought (by the vet's estimation). A few days after her death, I walked out the door and at the end of the walk, in the melting snow, ice and mud was a bit of crunchy snow... in the shape of a heart.

I kept finding hearts after that. Rocks, shapes pressed into snow or mud or sand. Empty spaces in photos, between tree branches...

A friend lost an adult daughter (medical issues) and another friend and I went on a hike/fossil hunt at Calvert Cliffs MD. She turned over a rock and shrieked... the underside was a perfect heart. The "rock" was a bivalve fossil, and from the side, bivalves are heart shaped. We gave the heart to my friend.

I leave death and life up to the Forces of the Universe. I know less and less about the Mystery. I think, as part of the universe, we sense that there is more than meets the eye...

At a friend's funeral (using the LOTR soundtrack as a memorial!), another friend gave a eulogy that began... "She knows."


Dame Ioreth
Tol Eressea


Jun 14, 1:17am

Post #19 of 20 (3623 views)
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I was seven. [In reply to] Can't Post

One of my friends died. And I wasn't allowed to see them or go to the funeral or anything. Instinctively I knew that wasn't the way to deal with death but that is what my mother made me do.

But the death that really hit me hard was my grandpa. He died in the ER the morning my grandma went in for surgery. When I got the call, 4 states away, I thought grandma had died in surgery, something I was kind of prepared for. But it was him. I dropped the phone and screamed for a long time. My husband picked up the phone and got details and we got through the funeral with grandma still in the hospital in a coma. She woke up 4 weeks later and we had to tell her. Her surgeon wanted to keep bringing her in for more surgeries but we could tell that she didn't want to go through that again. I shouted him down in the middle of the waiting room, with him telling me I was deliberately killing my grandma by not giving consent for his next surgery. I stood my ground and told him we were taking her home to hospice. She lasted for almost 18 months, got to see 2 of my kids born and died peacefully in her bed.

How did it affect my life? It's been 25 years since she died. Ever since then I have wanted to work with hospice. 2 years ago I finally found a degree program that made it possible for me to move into that field. I finish in 7 weeks. And then I finally get to work with the people who helped my grandma.

My grandpa's death was violent - he coded and they brought him back and then he coded again. It was not what he wanted. My grandma was luckier. That is what I want for my patients. A good death.


Paulo Gabriel
Rivendell

Jul 3, 6:10pm

Post #20 of 20 (1064 views)
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I was ten. [In reply to] Can't Post

One of my closest uncles died. But the biggest hit for me came in 2011 when my grandfather passed away -- he had a horrible story with colon cancer, but I'd rather not get into that.


(This post was edited by Paulo Gabriel on Jul 3, 6:12pm)

 
 

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