Waste not, want more

No variations on a theme.

The Spark of Passion Smells like Death

As a glamour-puss in training, I was using my vacation day to vacuum my home and contemplate life when a series of thoughts about recent writing, shelved writing, teenage writing, books that fascinate me, what I want to do with my blog, my future, and my life culminated in a realization: I am dedicatedly fascinated by death. In particular, how people process the deaths of loved ones, stars, arch enemies, and world villains.

My teen writing was filled with death, but I thought that was an age-related affliction. In those days, I just loved to read fictional tales of teens with cancer or kids who lost parents. Later Stephen King gripped me for a good couple of years before I turned my eye to more literary sources.  My new favourites became books where well-developed characters deal with a death or the dark aspects of their relationship with someone now dead.

On the other hand, adding to the list of things I’ve always attributed to “being Portuguese”, I grew up in a home where death was perhaps the most normal of conversations, perfectly child appropriate and fun for the whole family. There was talk of who died, why they died, the extent to which that person’s death was a tristiza (sad event) or a desgraça (tragedy) or não foi uma surpresa (not a surprise). Likewise, talking about somebody’s illness, diminishing health, or imminent demise was never seen as disrespectful or downright offensive. Like taboo-free gossip. But there’s an up side. I adapted well to the notion that my parents would die, my friends would die, and that I would probably die, too, maybe even sooner than one would assume. AND, I can talk pretty comfortably about death.

Finally, I have never had a particularly dramatic response to a death – one that lasted a culturally appropriate amount of time and is followed by normalcy. For me, initial shock has been followed only by moments of missing someone, or noting their absence. These moments rise and fall as everything else in our life does. My lack of reaction has, in some ways, been of some concern to me. Is my otherwise sensitive heart cold to death? Do I see death as good? Do I just not care enough about those that have died? Sure, there’s no normal grief, but there is healthy grief.

And now my mind is awash with ways I can attack death or show death some love. It’s a marketer’s dream!


August 2, 2012 - Posted by | Childhood Complaints, Death, Portuguese-ness?, Self-reflection, Writing | , ,


  1. Yeah, those marketers are going to be dying for your ideas! LOL I know–pretty lame, isn’t it? Oh well, you love death. My imagination is on death’s door. What can I say. Thanks for the lively post, my friend!

    Comment by Kathryn McCullough | August 2, 2012 | Reply

    • Kathy, you kill me! (There, I topped it.) Seriously, I didn’t clue in that you had punned the first time I read your comment. It’s embarrassing. When people everywhere roll their eyes at me I will say, “Well, Kathy called it “lively””. Thanks for visiting!

      Comment by Rose | August 2, 2012 | Reply

  2. I am fascinated by the word “desgraca” for “tragedy”. Has it any link to “disgrace”, or Grace (of God)?

    Comment by Clare Flourish | August 14, 2012 | Reply

    • Claire, I had to rescue you from the spam can! I suspect you’re exactly right. The literal translation is definitely disgrace. I’ve heard it used both ways, as in tragedy and as in morally disgraceful. So glad you made me think more about that.

      Comment by Rose | August 18, 2012 | Reply

      • Thank you for that. It is a problem I have had recently with lots of blogs, I can’t think why.

        Comment by Clare Flourish | August 21, 2012

  3. Depending on who it is who has passed, I either have a stone cold reaction or an obscenely over-dramatic one. When our beloved dog left us, I mourned forEVER (and still do!) However, when my grandfather passed away, I was more affected by the people still living in grief than I was about my grandpa per se. Like you say, there’s no normal response to death.

    Comment by Dana | August 21, 2012 | Reply

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