When I got to work one Monday, I heard that a coworker had passed away over the weekend. We worked at the same place, but due to the nature of my work, I talked to this guy alot via email and IM, but not much in person. It wasn’t until the coworker who told me the bad news showed me a picture of this guy that I realized that I had talked to him quite a bit in the break room. I also learned that this guy was only my age. After a couple of conversations with a few people over the course of the day, I learned that it seems that the guy had been having some health problems. The police or whoever had to bust down the guy’s door and found him dead in his bed.
I don’t deal well with death. I mean, nobody does, really, but every time a loved one has died, I spiraled quickly into depression. If I was already in the midst of depression, I would just dive further into it. Because I wasn’t very close to this coworker who passed away, I didn’t immediately start snot crying and I don’t anticipate the depression that I finally made progress on last month springing back up to haunt me. I’ve also been so busy at work and home that I haven’t had much time to think about anything other than work and my moving To Do List this week. Whenever I do get a few slow minutes, though, I start thinking about this guy’s death.
I often joke that I’m going to die alone and firemen will burst down my door to find my cat eating my face, but only after the neighbors complain about the smell. It’s a sick and morbid joke, but I really do worry about it. The thing is, I love living alone. Besides doing what I want when I want and how I want to do it, I like being alone because being around people exhausts me. I’m an emotional sponge. I’m not a mirror, so I don’t reflect it back; I just absorb it all. Even if the emotions are positive and happy, I still end up feeling exhausted after all of the smiling and hugging and excitement and laughter. Last month’s insights that helped me get a grip on my most recent bout of depression kept telling me that I need to be around people in order to get more familiar with dealing with the emotions so that I can understand and process them better. This is probably true, but it’s also alot of work that I just don’t feel like doing right now (or ever).
This brings me back to my point (I do have one!) I like being alone. I like living alone. I do not fear death. I fear dying alone. I’ve heard it said that nobody dies alone. I’ve also heard that everybody dies alone. I get the thought processes behind both of those statements, but my fear doesn’t have much to do with either of those things.
I worry on a very superficial level about humiliation — What if I slip in the shower (which I do all the time), but I don’t catch myself and I bust my head open on the bathtub, and when the neighbors complain about the smell, the police bust down my door to find me naked and decomposing, just a stinky blob of hair and cellulite??? I mean, that’s me now, minus the decomposition and with more clothing, but still, I worry.
My fears are a nice combo of superficial and deep — What if I die alone, and the authorities find me days later after busting down my door (again with the smell), and because my parents are dead and I have no children and I never got married and I don’t have even have a boyfriend and all of my friends are either dead, in retirement homes, or don’t care about/don’t remember me, there is nobody to notify??? Then, they have to pay some company to come and clean out my apartment, and whatever cat or dog I have at the time gets put into a shelter where he or she is euthanized after a couple of weeks because I usually adopt crazy pets that nobody else will take. Then, bills and credit card companies or whoever start being like, “Hey! Why doesn’t this old lady care about paying these bills?! She pays every thing off every month for 80 years and suddenly stops. What kind of crazy person lets her credit rating go to hell suddenly?!” And there’s nobody to tell the dumbasses that I’m dead.
How sad is it when the only people who will eventually care that you are dead are debt collection agencies?
I play this scenario out in my head again and again. I think about all the terrible things, wonderful things, and mundane things I’ve done and will do. I think about how much I love/have loved so many people, places, and things. I think about all the efforts I’ve tried to make towards my spiritual growth. Then, I think about how seconds after my death, none of that will matter to anyone. I will only matter to anyone again in a few months when my bills become delinquent. I think about how these will be the last thoughts that run through my mind before I die. Sad. Scary.