I started writing this on 11 November, the day the Armistice was signed which brought the end to the First World War. After millions of human beings, note the term, human beings, were killed, maimed, disfigured and mentally scarred. For what? A home fit for heroes? Most went back to the same poverty they’d left when they’d joined up to protect their country from the enemies they’d been told they had.
However, this isn’t about politics, this is about mixed feelings felt by the individual.
The mixed feelings people have when they remember those who have died in war. The First World War, the Second World War, Vietnam, Iraq, Israel, Egypt, Yemen, the list could go on. And on. And on. The mixed feelings people have when they think about why people went to war and died. The relief that people feel when they heard the loved one had died quickly. The regret. The anger at the waste. The loss of someone you loved, knew, cared about. All of that. The relief when that person comes back apparently unharmed. It needs to be remembered that the wounds might be hidden, sometimes for years. We call it PTSD…
Then you have people having mixed feelings at a personal level. When their Mum dies, or their Dad dies. Or a friend you cared about lost a battle against an unwelcome ‘guest’ – liver cancer <here> (Semper Fidelis, Bill.) I find it with everyone I know, the mixed feelings they have when someone they love, or have known for what might be decades, is dying or suffering a lingering illness. They love, care, respect them to the extent that they don’t want them to suffer. They love, care, respect them to the extent that they want them to stay. To remain and make them laugh. To allow them to care. To remain and continue to make them whole. To complete, maintain the balance of their world.
Then the person dies.
It leaves those left behind feeling guilty that they wanted them to go and go quickly, with no pain, because although the body was there, the soul, the essence as it were, is no longer present. And that’s where the mixed feelings come in. Relief that the suffering is over; anger at the person dying before you were ready to let them go; guilt at wanting them to go because them staying was causing them physical and mental pain.
Mixed feelings, eh? Such a pain. Such a load of confusion. Such a maelstrom of emotions. Good. Bad. Never indifferent.
So very human.
J J Mitchell
‘Never leave anyone behind’