“…but you’re too young to have that…” “They were so young…” “It’s such a pity; he/she was so young…”
I’ve never really understood what age has to do with how shocking, sad, or devastating it is to find out someone has died, is dying, or has a deadly disease or illness. Yet, you hear it all the time on the news, in person, in movies.
But why is it any more devastating for someone who is 4 to die than someone who is 44? Or 15 versus 76? Doesn’t everyone have something to contribute to the world no matter whether they’re 1 or 100?
Why do we believe that someone who is 90 is ready to ease out of life, while someone who is 4 is just getting going? Have you ever considered that the person who is 4 might actually be finishing up a previous life? It just might be that they had done a life where they accidentally died at 66, so they didn’t get to finish all the things they needed to. Therefore, they decided to come back just for those few years that it would take to do those things. Hence, for them, 4 years is more than enough time and they’re ready to move on and live a new life with different circumstances, different people, and a whole new set of lessons. While the 90 year old may feel as if they’re just getting started and the last thing on their mind is moving on from this life.
I’m one of those who’s completing a life interrupted. The last time I made it to age 18, but then circumstances that I didn’t foresee intervened and the life ended. This life has let me pick up where that one left off, so in my mind, I’m not so young. Add the two lives together and I’m really quite the senior citizen. So, I understand some of these “children” who came just to complete things carried over from the last life and who are ready to move on to something new.
That doesn’t mean that they (or I) have any less impact or importance in this world. I think every life and every person is extremely important. I believe everyone makes a difference in our lives; even those people we barely acknowledge or know, such as clerks at the store, or the neighbor 5 doors down that you only nod to when you see them out and about.
Maybe you’ve never met Sue Smith, but when you read about her in the paper or on the web, her story affects you emotionally. That’s because everyone matters; everyone has an impact on everyone else. Yet, does it really matter whether Sue is 14 or 40? It’s still the same struggle; it’s still the same pathos; and it’s still the same ending.
I think the real reason we say things like “…but they were so young…” is because of our own fear. We’re all so afraid of death and dying, that when we’re confronted with these types of situations, we try to push the reality of it away; we try to find ways of separating ourselves from the person who is ill or dead. However, a part of us recognizes that it could be us who is sick, dying, or dead, and so we blurt out what we fear. We’re not really saying that the other person is too young; we’re actually saying we are.
I don’t want us to become a society where life is taken lightly, but I think we need to lighten up a little and recognize that death, dying, and illnesses (severe, life-threatening illnesses) are part of life, too. And instead of trying to hide ourselves from this reality, we need to take another look, understand it, and embrace it as the opportunity it is—an opportunity to do and have all those things that you may not get to in this life.