by Michelle Lasley

Michelle Lasley is a mother, wife in Pacific Northwest learning to balance green dreams with budget realities.

September 7, 2010


Categories: Family

Cover of "Nonviolent Communication"

Cover of Nonviolent Communication

Dealing with death is hard. And, I don’t think we ever get over the loss of a loved one. I think we just learn to live with (to cope) with the grief that can plague us, daily. Someone I know through these varied Portland networks just reconnected with a childhood friend, only to find out the friend had passed, had died. They are both in their mid-thirties. It’s acceptable when grandparents or old people die, but when it’s a peer when we’re young, or someone  younger than  us, we couple the grief of their passing with thoughts like, “They died too young,” or “They were taken from this world before their time.”

I’ve written a lot about grief since Cristi’s death in 2007. It’s a way for me to cope. To put these words on screen, to see if they accurately reflect how I feel. To see if other people share similar thoughts and feelings around death. We are dealt so much as mere humans, challenges, sadness, happiness, fortunate and good luck, bad luck, job losses, money losses, relationship losses — it’s been thought that if hell exists we are living in it. Such an emotional roller coaster throughout our lifetimes with one resounding theme: Life is not fair.

People disappoint us. We disappoint ourselves. Hopes are lost and realized, and throughout all that, we find ways to survive. Some people survive through their children, hoping for a better life for the children and their children’s children. Some people survive by hoping for a better day themselves. Some people survive by enjoying their relationships and learning how to create better relationships. Some people survive by realizing their passions and going, unabashedly, for their dreams.

The bottom line is that life is not fair. Life gives us challenges, rewards, failures, and successes – sometimes daily. I think the goal of life is learning how to navigate these stormy waters that we are thrown into, some of us at birth, some of us later in life.

We have the pursuit of happiness as a realized goal in our Declaration of Independence, by why do so many people fall short of what we deem, as a society, a noble goal? I am still reading Nonviolent Communication by Marshall B. Rosenberg. He theorizes that depression stems from the inability to clearly articulate our needs. If we cannot define what we need, and need from others, how are we to get what we need from ourselves and from others? Grief is one of the greatest challenges we are dealt, as humans, where we need to realize our needs. Where what we need, the bubbling, boiling over of emotion, of “Life is not fair”, “Why did this happen to our family?” comes out, full force. A lesson, I know my family is still learning – how do you take this precious gift and learn from it, learn to communicate better, instead of distancing yourself from those needs and distancing yourself from those who care about you, thereby distancing yourself from loving relationships – which could lead to depression.

  • Observe
  • Feel
  • Need
  • Request

Rosenberg has more to say on the subject of nonviolent communication, but I think these four steps at are very helpful. My mother has always said no one has the right to argue with your feelings, and that it’s important to explain what action a person has done that has made you feel a certain way. Rosenberg expands on this concept by suggesting we be more specific. I felt angry, sad, frustrated, saddened when my sisters ex-boyfriend shot her and ended her life. I need to be able to express this sadness to those I care about. I would like those I care about to tell me how they feel so we don’t repeat this cycle of violence – of death.

Death. The epitome of the lesson, “Life is not fair.” Death, the wake up call when it hits close to home that life is too short. Death, a chance to renew relationships with those you care about who are still in this world. Death, a lesson I am still learning.

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