Grieving Spocky—coming to terms with non-reactions from friends and family
Our (me and my wife's) world came crashing down three weeks ago when we lost our dog Spock/Spocky Singh. He was our baby, who had turned 13 a day earlier.
This death has been our second loss this year—my wife lost her mom in March. We got a fair share of casual-cruel reactions on her passing. These types of reactions come when offering words of warmth aren't easy or when people are going through the motions. The casual becomes cruel when they are inflicted by friends/family versus acquaintances. Some instances that we saw with my mother-in-laws death were:
- Trivialize the death "it happens with everyone" and then pretend it never happened
- Write up a "RIP" on a Facebook and pretend that this casual interaction replaces offering any genuine words of warmth
- Text "I am there for you" but disappear from there on
- Give space. Giving space is a code for "I'd rather do anything else than interact with you"
- Show up and say how sorry they are. This, before heading to the party in the evening—streamed on Facebook and Instagram live
Thankfully, this set of "emotionally tone-deaf" people is relatively small because people have some sort of template on how to react to a human death.
Our close friends showed in day in and out, weeks and months later—we are truly thankful for it.
With Spock, apart from these very small set of people, reactions have been on the casual-cruel and the "emotionally tone-deaf" spectrum.
Most people have pretended as though Spock's death didn't matter to us. Another variant has been to text and say that "they are there for us". As I mentioned earlier, "I am there for you" is just a code to say "I'd rather do anything else than interact with you". Someone's first conversation with me was that they want to try a psychedelic and need to figure out where to procure it. Not the kind of reaction I would expect.
I get that for most people Spock was just a dog—I get it. The question of "how do you react to a pets death" isn't easy to answer because unlike a human death there are no templates. To be clear—I am hurt not because of lack of empathy from acquaintances but friends & family.
If you have been coming to my place for the thirteen years that Spock was alive, you knew that Spock was our kid. If you walked away with "he is just a dog" then you genuinely missed a key connection with us. This fundamental mismatch really makes me question our friendship/relationship.
The question is how do I react.
Venting on this blog is one way for me to deal with the disappointing non-reactions. Insulating myself from this self-centeredness is another. Accepting this behavior is another reaction because people's reactions are not under my control. Re-drawing boundaries is in my hand. I am likely going to use a mix of these.
As I have aged, humanity continues to disappoint me with the lack of empathy, compassion, kindness and love. The non-reaction to Spock's passing is just another data point towards the story of a selfish, self-centered humankind.
I guess, I demand a better world as shown to me by Spock.
This "emotionally tone-deaf behavior is a direct opposite of how Spock lived. His life was all about unconditional love, kindness and empathy. Rather than mope more about this topic, I will write a series of lessons that I learned from Spock and his incredibly rich life. That is the least I can do to celebrate him.