The Two Certainties of Life

You Guessed It

They say there are only two certainties in life…death and taxes. They’re both problematic. The truth is…you can’t avoid them, but you can save yourself a lot of angst in the way you deal with them. 

Take taxes, for instance. I know people who refuse to pay taxes. That’s like living with the ghost of Christmas Future breathing down your neck. Forgiveness may be a virtue, but don’t count on the IRS to be big on forgiveness. The IRS is like an elephant … it never forgets. 

Paying taxes is only one part of the fun of being an adult. I remember my first visit to the doctor as an adult. Not only did I have to deal with the anxiety of the visit, I discovered I was expected to pay for it! Wasn’t this my parents’ job? Maybe adulthood wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.

But paying taxes is mainly an issue of responsibility. It only involves strong emotions if you’re dodging this duty.

Death, on the other hand, is a highly emotional issue. It’s so final. We know it’s coming, but its eventuality goes into the realm of repression and denial. If you haven’t put your affairs in order by the time you’re over a certain age, don’t worry…the funeral parlors will call you!

What Do I Say?

But what if it isn’t your own death you’re worried about? How do you deal with others in your circle who are in the process of grieving? It may be normal to want to avoid these people because you don’t want to say the wrong thing. After all, we’re not offered a class in Grief 101. You’re basically flying by the seat of your pants. 

After my mother died I recall certain people dodging me in the grocery store. I wasn’t offended. I knew the reason. They didn’t know what to say.

Why do we feel we have to have the perfect words before we can face someone who’s grieving?

The Truth

Well, here’s the truth. The grief stricken don’t need your words. They need your presence. 

At this time, you’re not the person who needs to talk. They need to talk. 

If you really want to help someone, be an ear. Just listen.

If you see them in the grocery, just say, “I’m sorry for your loss”. That’ll suffice. It just needs to be acknowledged. That’s all. In both cases, being responsible and compassionate is called for.

Death and taxes are inevitable.