Grief In Our Time: A Look At Capitalism’s Death Rattle

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In our current society we’re facing a lot of grief. From loosing our loved ones, whether they be people or pets, to a veracious virus or to the many man-made factors in our environment that cause cancers and other irreparable diseases. Then there’s accidents, murder, accidental murders, wars, more wars and “accidental” wars. Grief is one of the only emotions that is connected directly to the loss of life. 

Ok sure there’s the other definition of grief, which is just annoy or cause a vast amount of irritation and sadness. Giving someone grief is often seen as one being a hinderance to another. But that just sounds like humans needing to control something they don’t really have control over. Grief over the loss of a life that was tethered to you is not something we control. I suppose one could say the ultimate form of giving grief to someone would be the act of murder. Or sending someone to fight for someone else’s cause which then in turn leads that person or persons loosing their life. Both instances manufacture grief. Regardless of whether its naturally occurring or manufactured, grief is felt when life is lost. 

If it’s not human life, people grieve over things. “Please excuse me for I’m grieving over the loss of my television. How will I see the conclusion of the Bachelor now?! Which hussy will the ignorant meathead with a trust fund pick!?!” Really they’re just kinda sad. Not really sad. But trivially sad. Grieving over things is what people who have faced little to no challenges or loss do to make themselves feel like a victim of something. No one should want to be a victim, especially of untimely death.

People also grieve the loss of a relationship, romantic or otherwise. “Please excuse me for I’m grieving over the loss of love from my heart. And I’m grieving the loss of a large sum of money from my bank account to pay lawyers and fiends.” Ending of relationships tend to hurt even if its only for a little bit.   

You don’t think about grief until you come face to face to death in some capacity. This recent bout of grief is coming from the loss of a good friend of mine. He was one of my best friend’s husband and a dear, loving and caring man. I’m going to keep the details of the death itself private out of respect to the family. In a moment like this, you’re mostly just surrounded by grief. I’ve thought back to my own grief after loosing my best friend, Bobby who was my childhood best friend and basically my little brother. This was the first time in my life I truly experienced grief.  

After he died, which was a little over a decade ago, I still had an inkling that he wasn’t really gone, despite breaking the news to most of my friends. I spent most of the first night checking my phone for a text from him that said “Gotcha fucker! Let’s get some Molten Lava Cake!” That was my denial phase of the grieving process. It lasted one night. When I didn’t get a text by morning I had to resign myself to the fact that I was likely never going to see him again. I say likely, because I don’t have any answers as to what the afterlife entails. Hell it could also not exist. 

In a larger socio-political context I have to wonder if that’s the reason there are so many people who buy into the “Plandemic” idea. Personally I don’t believe in this ideology and I’m at a point now, where I don’t have much patience or tolerance for this argument when its presented to me. But it makes me think whether these people couldn’t handle the large numbers of deaths because of this virus and had to deny the reality of this situation in order to cope with it. Now I’m not saying that I whole hearted trust the government or corporations. I don’t. But I just can’t deny the reality of what this virus is and what it’s capable of doing and the lives it has already taken. 

Even Capitalism itself is going through these 5 stages of grief. Capitalism is making it death rattles, which if you’re wondering, sounds like an old man coughing, sneezing & farting at the time. America, the most Capitalist of nations, is a failed state. Capitalism is in denial that a universal healthcare could’ve saved hundreds of thousands of lives in general let alone during a global pandemic. It’s in denial that a Universal Basic Income would have significantly helped reduce the number of people who transmitted the virus to each other because of a shared office space, warehouse space and so on. Capitalism is struggling to breathe and is denying the fact that it need lungs to do so! Besides it can just make new 3-D printed lungs anyways. 

After a finding out more details about Bobby’s suicide, the only thing I felt was anger. Anger that he didn’t come to his closest friends to talk about what he was struggling with. He bore our burdens but never let us carry his. I was mad at myself that I didn’t see the signs to help him. That anger was locked inside me. I didn’t want to tell anyone about these feelings, so it just grew and boiled even more and eventually became a deep rooted self hatred. That self hatred is why I’m a tortured genius of a comedian. I’m kidding of course. My genius is a natural gift I share with the world. 

Remember kids, bravado is the language of the scared and satire of said bravado is the language of scared who know they’re scared. I actually don’t have that much hubris. But I’m at a point in my life where I feel pretty good about where I’m at and how much I push myself to become better. Hyper masculinity is just fun to poke at because of its ignorant fragility.

This anger left inside can be poison. Because I held this anger in, it’s grown and I’ve spent years managing it. I had to. Ensuring that I never let this poison out on anyone, I used it as a fuel to motivate my creativity and what I believe in. It was the only productive use I could find for it. It’s not the only thing that motivates or fuels me, but it is an integral part of who I am now. But learning how to identify this anger and figure out where this emotion comes from has given a sense of control over it. Anger isn’t necessarily a bad emotion, but it can lead to bad consequences depending on the decisions we make with it. And it takes a long time and discipline to work on this skill. Trust me, I’ve lost control of it over the years and many shattered computer screens and printers can attest to that.  

I see my friend in this phase. Because I didn’t have an outlet to vent and let out what I was feeling over Bobby’s death, I want to make sure she has that in me. So whatever anger she has, she can let that out with me. And I don’t have absorb it. I will due to the fact that I’m an empath and that’s kinda what I do, but I can take most of it and put in a box and set it aside till she’s ready to use it as a fuel source for her own art. If she chooses to use it as a fuel source that is. Unlike what the fossil fuel industry would have you believe, there are other things that fuel us that aren’t dead dinosaurs being burned, slowly killing our planet. 

Capitalism, in its everlasting death rattle, is also in the throws of anger. The way it channels its anger is by the use of propaganda, aka corporate media. Regardless of whether you watch CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, NPR or any of the other talking heads out of asses, they like push back against we the people organizing to fight injustices. Over the past year, the wave of protests calling an end to police brutality and systemically changing the way policing works in America has been chastised by both sides. Fox News obviously called these people rioters and Marxists, a word they’ve substituted for terrorist over the years, especially since Brown People are seen as ok in society now. 

CNN on the other hand said BLM’s call to Defund The Police will increase crime and violence. This is inarguably false. Violence in cities that have seen these protests has been a result of police brutality…you know the thing we’re protest and marching to end. In order to prove the cops aren’t brutal, they act as brutally as possible. This is because the cops learned their debate tactics from a hammer. A literal hammer. If something is a problem, BAM, you beat it and it’s no longer a problem. But it’s not working anymore. We’re realizing we’re not a society of ONLY nails. 

Capitalism is mad at striking workers, environmental activists, healthcare activists and the list goes on and on. The common thread (for those that can’t see it) is that all these people criticize Capitalism for endlessly searching for profits via consumption even if it means supporting racism, misogyny, and the very extinction of the planet of itself. As long as someone has all the wealth and things in the world, its worth it. But the only way to win the game of Capitalism is total annihilation. Capitalism denies that truth and lashes out at anyone that points it out. 

I don’t think I went through the bargaining phase after Bobby’s death. I sometimes talk to Bobby as a point of comfort. Maybe that’s how it manifested. I’m honestly not sure. The closest thing I think I came to is sitting at a park and running a fantasy scenario where I went back in time and saved his life. I wished for time travel to be real. I had to come to terms with the fact that he wasn’t around anymore pretty quickly. That and face the reality humans are very far from harnessing the power of time travel for good. Let’s be honest, we can’t really agree on how evolution works, so a large concept like time is out of grasp. 

Remember kids, just because you have a Rolex doesn’t mean you’ve mastered and own time. Time will always defeat you because it has infinite amounts of itself. Its only let you borrow a minuscule amount. You should probably do something productive with it.  

Capitalism on the other hand doesn’t want to come to terms with its own self assured destruction. We can see that today in the wave after wave of striking workers who are refusing to take the crumbs and pittances the Capitalist overlords, aka Bosses, are willing to give them. The demands of the working class are to be treated as a human being. The bosses come back and say “What if we treated you like a dolphin. Most of the time we think you’re cute and you can flips for us and we give you fish. And then like once a year we hunt you guys down and kill the shit out of you for sport. How’s that sound? Just remember we could always be hunting you for sport, we’re offering we only do it like once…maybe twice a year.” 

The answer is we are human beings that deserve to be treated as one. There’s no bargaining when it comes to that. Look if Capitalism has a problem with that, it should watch the critically acclaimed Marvel cinema “Doctor Strange”. SPOILER ALERT! At the end of the movie the titular character uses time to bargain with an inter-dimensional demon that has no perception of what time is. Meaning Dr. Strange was clever and smart enough to strike a deal with a demon and the all powerful demon had to give in. Capitalism is no inter-dimensional demon and should probably stop pretending it is one.

I’m no stranger to depression and for a long time I was depressed over the loss of Bobby. If I weren’t I’d likely be a sociopath and this would a very different essay. Most of this essay would likely be about why everyone should be dead and probably why I’m God or something. But my depression was rooted in self hatred. The depression amplified the blame I placed over myself for Bobby’s death. It kept reminding me that I chose to go home and workout instead of making sure my friend was ok. And every time I did something good for myself or chose to accept joy it reminded me that I was the reason Bobby couldn’t feel joy anymore. 

This kept me from enjoying the truly good things in my life. Milestones in my career, love life and beyond. A lot of things became meaningless for a while. The question that I had repeatedly ask myself was “Would Bobby want me to live my like this? Would he want me to blame myself for his death?” The answer is a resounding no to both. Bobby was always there to make sure that people felt the least amount pain at all times. That was likely because he was in pain and didn’t want anyone else to feel what he felt. I’m the same way. 

My depression, which cycled into anger which would then cycle back to depression, wrecked my relationships, prevented me from taking risks and almost lead me to quit comedy. That decision would only kept in a depressive state for a long time. It led to me stop caring about myself and only focus my attention on everyone else in my life. This was bad because if you can’t care for yourself, how are going to care for anyone else in your life. 

Capitalism goes through depression every 7-8 years. It’s called an economic crash. Boom and Bust. Basically Capitalism is a manic depressive that has denied all its symptoms and is constant mad at anyone that wants to see it be better because it doesn’t understand what better means. Capitalism believes itself to be a perfect system. Capitalism believes itself to be a God, perfection in action. A delusional sociopath runs our economy and we’re all supposed to be ok with this.   

Acceptance was difficult for me. It wasn’t accepting that Bobby was gone. I resigned to that thought pretty quickly as I mentioned before. But rather it was about accepting that I didn’t have to be angry at myself. I had to accept that I didn’t need to bear the blame of his death. I was 21 and I didn’t really know how to deal with my own mental health let alone someone else’s. He was 19 and could probably say the same thing. 

It took me almost 7 years to accept that I’m not to blame and I don’t have to be constantly angry at myself. It allowed to start liking myself and accept joy & happiness into my life because Bobby would want me to be happy. More importantly I wanted to be happy. But accepting happiness & self worth took another 5 years. Its only in the last few months that I’ve been able to put some of that into practice. His death will always be a part of my life. The grief I feel will always be there, but now I’m better equipped to deal with the grief when it hits me hard. And after 11 years there are still days that it hits me hard. 

It’ll be a song I’ve heard a thousand times or a movie we used to watch or the car he used to drive and its a flood of memories that leads back to the guilt. But now I have reminders to pull me out of the depression and anger. The difference between human grief and the grief Capitalism is going through is that we usually go through each of these stages by themselves or maybe 2 at a time. Capitalism is going through all of it at once, which makes acceptance virtually impossible considering denial is the opposite. 

This acceptance was almost undone by my now ex-wife. We broke up when we were dating because she used my guilt against me by blaming me for his death in the midst of a fight. You just don’t do that to someone you love. That ended our relationship for a while, but it almost undid all the work I had put into myself to be ok with my life and my choices. I began blaming myself again and it wasn’t until a friend reminded me that I wasn’t to blame that I started to come back out of the depressive chasm in my mind. 

The 5 stages of grief can be a template, but the reality with grief we have to accept is that it’s unique to every person, every loss and ever situation. I’ve seen my best friend cry over her loss a lot more than I did over Bobby. I processed my grief and pain very differently than she currently is. My control over my anger led me to be able to control my emotional reactions to things and practice some stoicism. This may seem like I’m cold and unemotional but I’m contemplating and keeping my emotional reaction at bay till I can figure what’s the best response for the situation. It’s about reflecting not reacting. It’s difficult but doable for anyone through discipline, practice and listening to yourself. Neither of these responses are right or wrong over all, rather they are correct for you in the moment. 

There is no standard operating procedure for grief. There never will be. Once you experience it, it’s stays with you. You learn how to cope with it every single day. Capitalism, despite going through 4/5 stages of grief simultaneously, doesn’t really care about our grief. My best friend has to deal with banks, insurance companies, realtors, etc within a week of losing her husband. Does this sound like an understanding system? I’ll answer that question for you. No. 

This is proof that there is NO compassionate Capitalism. If that existed, there would be at least a month where all the bills are covered and we can just grieve for our loss. There’s no time for grief when the economy constantly needs to be fluffed like a porn star between takes. If one person not paying their bills due to unimaginable amounts of grief is enough to bring this economy to its knees (which is how its presented when you bring up the idea of compassion & empathy into Capitalism), then it sounds like you need a better economic system. 

What we need is a system that allows us the time and space to grieve. We need a system where we can process a great loss instead of dealing with paperwork so some billionaire doesn’t loose a minuscule percentage of profit. As long as death exists, grief will too. And if we don’t accept that we need a society that lets us grieve and be there for those grieving all we’ll do is perpetuate a cycle where we go through 4/5 stages and never really learn to accept and cope.