and different cultures, and even people, but it’s important to remember that if it works, it works. I’m not particularly spiritual. But I found it hard sometimes, thinking about my grandfather and remaining as… unspiritual as I had been. I don’t really have any opinion on the afterlife, but earlier this year I caught myself thinking that he is proud of me. Not that he was, or would be if he were still with us, but that right now he is proud of me. I was pretty confused, to be honest. I didn’t end up going on some kind of Eat, Pray Love spiritual journey of great importance, but I did spend a lot of time thinking about myself and my grandfather. The ways that we remember people are always a little funny
like that. It might be an object that someone gave you – or even just that you think of in relation to them. It might be something you did together, or that they taught you to do. It might be even more abstract, like a smell. For a few years, I couldn’t smell melting butter without thinking of a family friend’s death. The first time that happened, I was in class at high school and almost had to go to the bathroom to cry it out. After my grandfather died, when I was explaining what had happened to a teacher to ask for an extension, part of our conversation reminded me so clearly of him the same thing almost happened. The take-away, I guess, other than that I cry a lot (I do. I find it cathartic) is that death is huge. It’s one of those things that will always be there, it’s one of the few
things people have reached pretty much 100 per cent consensus on (not going near the whole afterlife thing), and it’s something we’ll all have to deal with. It’s important that we can, however we do. Whether that’s through the mourning of the dead in ancient ritual lamentation, through elaborate funerals, postmortem photographs, memento mori, or just finding someone to have a good cry to. And sometimes it’s hard. Sometimes it is almost impossible. But one of the most important things we can do is to try. Because we have to.
Max Cooper thinks we should all call our grandparents more. He might even go do that now.
Inside the final edition of 2013: the inside word on exchanges, bookshops, and nursing degrees, and more.