Monday, January 25, 2010

The Things They Carried

The chapter in the book that engaged me the most was the chapter titled Stockings in the novel The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien. Coming from a huge Irish Catholic family, and not feeling like religion is a huge part of my life, I can completely relate to Henry Dobbins in the chapter. When you have a Deacon for a grandfather, faith is shoveled down your throat at every family gathering, most of the time you run the opposite way. Henry Dobbins tells Kiowa he wants to join the monks they are staying with, and Kiowa questions if he is religious, and Dobbins says he is not, but likes dealing with others and being nice to them. He later says the phrase I loved, "Wear a robe and be nice to people." That's all it needs to be for me, minus the robe part. Just being nice to others.

The book makes me think of tragic loss almost the same way as I had before, but it added to my understanding. Tragic loss affects everyone, and everyone has their own way of dealing/coping, and finding ways to get through the day. I think people struggle so much to "get over" the loss of close family members or friends, because when someone dies, that's it. You no longer get to have any sort of contact with them, verbal, physical, or even emotional. When someone dies, it comes as a shock, and depending on how close you were to the individual, it can take years to overcome. From my experience, the way that works best for me (though it might not for someone else) is to grieve however you see fit (don't bottle those feelings up!), and then focus on moving forward. I keep a ring from my grandmother, that was given to her by my grandfather, with me everywhere, and whenever I look at it, it fills me with a sort of peace. It has taken me a few years to come to terms with their death. They were a huge part of my life, even to a daily extent, and it was a shock to not have them at my graduation, so I wore the necklace to carry them with me. For me, having good memories, plenty of photos, and a family to tell stories with, makes the grieving process a lot easier to endure as well.

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