Death and Questions

Someone I just met on Thursday passed away early this week. We’d met through a friend of mine who actually was his best friend. He performed spoken word and I actually cried. His words were emotional and piercing. Later we had pizza and beer together. We all spent the night laughing at each other. I was amazed how talented he was.

I just can’t believe this happened. It happened so suddenly–he was riding his motorcycle and was killed instantly.

They say only the good die young and that must be true.

As sad as his death is, and it’s awful and shitty, I feel like death makes us face really difficult questions about tragedy and love and loss. All last night I was tossing and turning, almost wishing I was somehow still religious, so it’d be an easier pill to swallow. How can we cope with something so awful, so unjust? It was so terrible to hear about his death that I realized this must be one of the reasons we reach out to religion for answers. Religion can give us answers that soothe us, even if they’re cliche. You can tell someone who’s grieving that “He’s in a better place now,” or “He’s celebrating with Jesus,” or “He’s at peace” and usually it helps a religious person cope with such a huge hole.

But when it comes down to it, our cliche answers don’t bring back the dead. They don’t replace the love we lost or the best friend.  Death is a complicated tragedy to deal with.

For religious people, it might help to hear something that’s meant to comfort. But for those of us who are not religious, there’s emotional pain but few answers. There aren’t any real answers as to why someone so talented and so loving would die suddenly. There’s no reason for it. It’s painful to face.

I think that could be the answer why a lot of people don’t always question their beliefs or walk away from a faulty faith. When left alone with our pain, our fears, our loss, how will we cope? Will we be okay? Will we be hopeless without a God to believe in or a pat answer to “solve all our problems?”

The truth is, there’s a lot of hope without belief but there’s also a lot of difficulty in navigating through tough questions. Life isn’t always about answers, it’s about the questions and the path we take to understand them. Sometimes it’s the tough questions and painful events in life that cause us to find strength within ourselves, our families and our communities.

Rest In Peace George James. Your courage, your words and your talent were a gift to all of us. We will all miss you. <3