How should I react to death?

This question may just have triggered people to bash me right away. Of course, we all should mourn and drown in sadness when facing death; either it’s our loved ones or people in general. There is only one way to respond: grief. But why can’t I do the same? I need the specifics. I need the step-by-step on how I should respond when I hear death news. I need certain to-do lists when I want to comfort myself or my loved ones when they hear such miserable news.

Tracing back to my childhood, my mother always delivered someone’s passing in a… normal way. Not melancholy or happily, just… she just thought it wasn’t a big deal. People will eventually die anyway. Sometimes we laughed about it as well. Up until a certain age, I thought that was… not normal, but just different. I thought we all respond to it in different ways. There’s gotta be more than one right choice. Until it isn’t. Or at least, I thought there isn’t more than one right way to behave about it.

Now that I heard a family member passing away, or a friend confiding in me that somebody has just died, I instantly begin to think on the most appropriate way to respond to them. Should I cry, comfort them, or just be oblivious because it doesn’t bug me at all? But then I proceed to my next thoughts, why am I not bothered at all? I want to feel bothered. I want to feel sad. I want to cry, not because a character dies in Grey’s Anatomy or an FC Bayern legend retires, but because of real-life struggles—in this case, death.

And all those thoughts eventually hinder me from actually doing something to make the situation better. And up until now, my question is still left unanswered. Because I don’t have the answer, I tend to shut myself up. And of course, it becomes troublesome when I get close—romantically, in an adult relationship—and somebody from his side gets sick or dies. What do I do? What is the right thing to say? Should I grieve with him, or be a bigger person and comfort him?

Not knowing things make me want to run away. I hate uncertainties. And my life is full of them. And if it isn’t ridiculous enough, it makes me want to run away when cases like this occur with the people I’m close with. When they receive such devastating news, all I want to do is run away and pretend as nothing happens, and it’s just bad luck and all of us will eventually bump into it.

It also happens when it occurs to me. When my father died, the first thing that came up to my mind was, “how should I react? Should I be sad or happy because he’s in a better place?” And then the next would be, “can I just run away and pretend as if it’s just his fate and his time has come? Mine will also turn up eventually.”

I know this is not okay. But please, somebody, tell me how to fix this.

How should I react to death?

Should I be afraid and resent it?

Should I embrace it?

How should I react to death?



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Adelaide Livia

A literature student who probably hasn’t read your books-every-literature-student-has-read list.