I know it is not the best of topics to discuss, but it is the ultimate truth. Nothing is permanent in this world. Nothing. Even the paper that you throw away will wither away in time if left unattended. Look at things around the house that you haven’t used in a long time. The ink on the paper will evaporate after some years. And that’s why I think this is the ultimate truth.
Until you have truly felt the loss of a loved one, you will never appreciate every breath you take. After the death of a loved one, we tend to soul search for the reason. Our mind back-tracks, goes into flashbacks. Every time you hurt the person comes to your mind and all you can do is ask for forgiveness.
So when do we learn about death? My son, while watching the movie ‘Honey I Shrunk the Kids’ saw the ant being killed by the scorpion and once the ant was dead, he said “he is dead”. I didn’t teach him death, I didn’t tell him about his close relatives dying but he understood death when he was seeing the movie. Now obviously he is too small to understand all the nuances of death but for him that meant that life stopped existing.
We offer condolences for our family’s and friends’ losses. We send RIP messages on social media for celebrities who pass away. But do we realize the magnitude of the person’s loss? I somehow take death very seriously. That is why I only offer my apologies because I am truly sorry the person has to go through the pain. When we attend funerals of our friends’ loved ones, we carry on with our normal day after the funeral. We mourn the loss at the funeral but don’t really feel any change in our routines.
So how do you survive after someone’s death – someone who was extremely close to you? I wish the answer was simple. It takes the support of family and friends to remove the person from a sense of loss. There are helplines which patiently hear someone rant about their loss in case they don’t want to rant to their loved ones. Coping with loss has also to do with the circumstances that led to the demise. If it was sudden and unexpected, then the time taken is much more than in the case of someone who died of terminal illness. In both cases however, nothing prepares you to see the empty chair which was once occupied.
The worst thing about death is not the death itself. It’s the absences felt on birthdays, death anniversaries and celebrations of achievements within the family that makes it worse. You tend to relive the last moments on those days.
But every newborn brings into this world a sense of hope, a life waiting to be explored. So when I feel that all hope is lost, I just have to look around at the children playing and I am thankful. Thankful because even though death teaches you that nothing is permanent, life that is playing in front of you is definitely worth fighting for.
November 9th 2013.