I Needed Death To Feel Light

Whenever I was stressed at my former job, I put on my death bed hat.

Okay, this ad campaign is rough. But am I going to think about it when I’m 89 and fading? No. So power through, ho.

For the most part, this worked. Yet I found myself repeating this exercise often. Not because the job was beyond me, but because I had stepped outside of the job. 

I realized this when I was reading a book to help me become a better creative leader. It was compelling, but I was getting splotchy thinking about having to apply the tips to a role that was no longer ringing my bell. 

What did I turn to for comfort? True crime shows and death books. 

I craved real, sometimes sickening heaviness to distract me from my own tedium.  

Wow, this rape-based limited series really makes a gal feel new!

I sat with this for many months, slowly understanding that my draw to darkness wasn’t creepy, it was reformative:
I wanted to make a meaningful difference during the hardest moments of someone’s life. Give me the frontlines of humanity, baby! My heart can feed a grieving army!

My leap to funeral work was exactly like repotting a plant. My sudden smallness was life-giving. To have no clue what I’m doing, to be constantly awkward, to take twice as long to move a body because I’m not a dude, whoops sorry for squirting you with embalming fluid – OH THIS IS IT!

The newness is electric, and the context grounding. Stress now is less a vampire and more a teacher. Instead of increasing market share for a far-away company, I’m taking away some of the heartbreak of losing a soulmate. That’s the kind of weight I’d been starving to carry.

A dear friend recently responded to one of my Facebook stories, saying I looked “so happy and free.” 

Death is a beautiful bullshit cleanser, darling.