This originally appeared (in slightly different form) as
my comment on a post at one of my favorite blogs,
One of the things that has struck me most strongly about moving from the rural mountain West to New York City: People are insulated from death. I assume that’s true of urbanites, suburbanites and townsfolk everywhere in the developed world.
Most people in the developed world will go through their life never seeing a person die young or violently or suddenly. They might hear of it. They probably have seen a body in a casket. But if they have seen someone die, it will be someone old or frail, in antiseptic conditions.
I’ve never lived in a city before. I’ve only been here a few months. But my Love warned me about this before I came here. I’ve seen it already. People do not understand death, other than death from old age or cancer. They are not equipped to deal with it. They – we – have cultural and social amnesia. If people aren’t exposed to it, it doesn’t happen.
Oddly, they’re the ones who seem to need trigger warnings. Tell someone that your child cousin was killed before your childhood eyes in a horrible accident. You will be met with disbelief, an inability to comprehend. It’s seems to be a sort of PTSD, except that they’ve not had a traumatic stress. It induces cognitive dissonance, in some, a rampart of willful obtuseness.
My Love and I grew up in a different place, the rural mountain West. Young people – even children – die suddenly and violently. I started kindergarten with 30 children, all the 5-year-olds from half a county the size of Rhode Island. Four of those kids were dead in horrible accidents before I left for university. My Love and I have both witnessed sudden, horrible, violent deaths. Deaths of children and family members.
I grew up in town – a very small town, far from any city, but town. We were somewhat insulated from death. My Love grew up on a ranch, where sudden and violent injury, maiming and death are commonplace, a yearly occurrence.
We don’t have shrinks out there. You go to your minister, he tells you your loved one is in a better place and you’d better get back to work or your kids will starve. It’s a harsh world. Leave the dead to bury to their dead.
Slightly edited from the comment.