At 38 years old I have experienced the deaths of quite a number of people now, some might say maybe a few too many in fact. From all walks of life, in different circumstances. I am not one to be affected by grief as such, but would be ignorant to say someone's death does not bother me in any way.
The role of honour gets longer by the day, but for the record here are a few, just to give an idea of what my mind has dealt with.
Adam King - Road accident (pedestrian)
John Littlebury - Traffic incident (motorcyclist)
Kevin Flanders - Traffic incident (motorcyclist)
John Weston - Traffic incident (motorcyclist)
Mary Lunt - Short illness, cancer
Graeme Breen - Long term illness, inc cancer
Ann Snasdell (mum) - Long term cancer
Tas Hossain - Brain tumour
That's a snippet of it all, but gives you the right idea, its not like I have never known anyone who has died. And this point is important for what's coming now.
In all the deaths I have dealt with, I have never been in a situation where someone was snatched from my grasps within seconds. I was there the day mum passed, in fact for the moment she passed. I had spoken to Graeme and John days before they both died etc, but it has never seemed instantaneous to me.
What provoked this thought is the shooting of two people in SE22 today, quite local to me. Ok they are not the first people to have been shot locally, let alone nationally. I didn't know them, nor would want to I don't think based on their apparent gang affiliations, however the way they went made me think. Put the affiliations aside and you are left with an individual surrounded by friends and loved ones. In a split second they are pierced by a shard of metal which instantly takes them away from everyone around them. Like a light switch, turned of, lights out, life extinguished, gone forever.
This is not about me mourning the loss of this individual, but more about my curiosity about how you cope with such a thing. Within 5 seconds you can go from talking to someone like there is nothing wrong, to cradling their lifeless body in your arms, helplessly.
Yes I have dealt with death, and it is not pleasant to watch your own mother take her last breath, then depart. But knowing she was ill, knowing she was weak payed a major role in dealing with this. Losing a friend in an accident I was not present at again doesn't compare. How can it, I heard the news much later and dealt with it the only way you can.
I think the combinations of surprise, presence, and helplessness makes losing someone you love in the blink of an eye, the most unbearable way to lose a loved one possible. From murder to sudden medical issue, from road accident to accident at home, each is as traumatic as the next, and as I sit on the train, surrounded by strangers I am left wondering how many people on this train know what that feeling is like.
The closest I have ever witnessed was a motorcycle accident on Chelsea Bridge where a man was killed in an instant. A complete stranger to me, however the shock of it and the sudden way it occurred probably affected me more than any other death I have knowledge of. To watch a perfectly healthy person transition from life to death in a heartbeat is astounding, shocking and down right upsetting without a doubt. Trying to make the subsequent 999 call was proof enough that it has affected me.
So to go back to the funeral today, as its the most current example, I can't imagine what it was like to have someone's life extinguished before your very eyes. Remembering that they were at an event to say farewell to another fallen loved one. Factor out the gang and the behaviour, and remember for a moment that parents, relatives and other friends would have been present.
I hope that for each person I lose along my journey in life, that no one I love is lost in such a cruel way. I wish never to be present at a loss like this. And I also hope that I will not pass in such a way either. In fact I'm sure we all think that way.
Life is a gift, death is a certainty. Dignity throughout is something we all wish for, and happiness for our loved ones is a must.
My thoughts go out to anyone who loses a loved one from their company in a second like this.
Phew.... I need chocolate!
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