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  • Ageism In Death: Is This Unfair?

    Posted by bailey-anne-vincent on September 3, 2020 at 5:41 pm

    Yesterday I talked about the loss of celebrity or public role models (such as Chadwick Boseman last week) and how that can impact a community of people.

    After I posted on my Instagram, I received a lot of lovely messages about loss and life and the passing of my Aunt Joyce as well, and felt this knee-jerk reaction to say: “Well she lived a long life”, as if to excuse it away. I know Chadwick was not given this chance… So, is it unfair of me to equate young loss with loss at the end of a beautiful lifetime?

    I can’t help but think some of this instinct has been increased over the years by the loss of friends with CF, most of whom were very very young. I start to build a narrative of, “Well they lived a long life!” as compared to the sting of peers of were gone at 30.

    The older I get, the more I realize this is not only ageist and hurtful to anyone needing to grieve, but also misses the point. Life is life, loss is loss… And who are we to draw distinctions between what hurts more or matters less?

    I know this is a sensitive subject, but if you don’t mind sharing (and remembering) along with me: How old were you when you first experienced true loss (the death of someone you love)? How old was the person lost?

    Moreover, if you’re willing to dive further down the rabbit hole, do you believe this sort of dismissive ageism is compounding in how we are handling late-in-life losses from COVID?

    jenny-livingston replied 3 years, 8 months ago 2 Members · 1 Reply
  • 1 Reply
  • jenny-livingston

    September 4, 2020 at 4:12 pm

    My first experience with loss was witnessing our family dog get run over by a car. I was maybe 5 years old. I can remember the conversations our family had about life and loss when that happened, and the hurt that I felt so deeply. Shortly after that experience, my sister passed away. She was 14 years old, and her death was indeed a tragedy.

    Years later, I began losing friends in the CF community, some of whom I considered my best friends in life. And those losses hurt just as much as losing my sister.

    My daughter enjoys spending time at a local care center for elderly patients. She has formed dear, dear friendships with a few residents there, but her best friend was a woman in her 70’s named Candace. Last year, Candace passed away and I watched my daughter grieve the loss of her beloved friend who was not young. She had lived a long, beautiful life… but losing her was still incredibly painful to those who loved her.

    I completely agree that any kind of loss is always painful. It is not relative. A person must not be young for their death to be deemed tragic. Just as a person must not be completely “healthy” for their death to matter. I’ve had an extremely difficult time with the rhetoric surrounding COVID deaths in the US. The recent posts about the CDC “admitting” that only 6% of deaths are “real” because 94% were either elderly or had comorbidities. Those losses are significant. Their lives meant just as much as anyone else’s!

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