So far in 2008 I have learned a lot and selected the following that may be of interest to readers.
1. There sure are a lot of dead people on TV.
2. They are not really dead people. They are actors pretending to be dead. A real dead person does not look anything like that.
3. When you suffer a catastrophic loss, lots of people will come out of the woodwork to offer sympathy and do the best they can to help you out.
4. Some of these people will say things that are patently absurd. This is OK because they don't know what to say and they feel like they have to say *something*.
5. When you suffer a catastrophic loss, some people will take the opportunity to kick you when you're down.
6. Some people will offer open-ended, unconditional support and reveal themselves to be amazing human beings. Some of these people are who you'd expect and others are not who you'd expect.
7. There is a pug named Louie who is really good at helping people forget their agony.
8. Some people will offer support for a while and then stop doing so.
9. Some people will find themselves incapable of being supportive. The identities of these people may surprise you.
10. Your catastrophic loss will feel like the first time this has ever happened, to anyone, anywhere. You will find out that it happens fairly often. Lots of people are surviving it right now.
11. Meeting your fellow survivors and being in contact with them is both reassuring and awful because it is terrible that this catastrophic loss should be happening to so many people.
12. People have been surviving this for so long that there are actually books about it, and everything that you're going through can be found in them. This is also both reassuring and awful.
13. The loss of one exceptional human being from the world makes it really really cold.
14. It is possible to learn to execute a lot of different tasks while crying. Driving while crying, however, no matter how much practice you get at it, is still unsafe.
15. It is possible to spend years and years and years doing the best you possibly could and still be up against something so horrifying you could not defeat it even with the best you had.
16. You will find your catastrophic loss made into plots on TV. These will not usually be accurately or sensitively executed. The best thing is not to watch them.
There are some things I learned before 2008 which I feel might be of interest to readers:
1. If your loved one wants to do something nice for you, do not tell them "no". When your loved one is gone you will wish you had said "yes".
2. Nobody knows when his or her number is up, therefore, make your every encounter with your loved one the best you possibly can.