Death seems to have taken fancy of me. It is a sort of constant companion these days. A colleague lost her husband, the next day I lost my father and as we were arranging for the funeral my mother in law took ill and I had to return the very next day to make arrangements for her funeral. Four days, three deaths and as I gather myself again a very dear friend informs me that her myeloma has not only relapsed but is also untreatable and she needs to maintain herself and live as well as she can. And then she said, “I choose quality life over quantity of life.” And the Official HoB post on Abhay made me realise how raw I still am about his death. Many have asked me how does it feel to let go, how did I cope with the grief and were kind enough to lend me their ear if I needed one. Another cousin too lost her father recently and I have been talking about death and loss with almost everyone at present. At 46, I too feel at times that I did not deserve to see as many deaths as I have seen in these couple of years but then I cannot push it away either. I write today what I felt and how I dealt with it in the hope that it helps those who too have been in this painful situation as me.
The word ‘death’ spells scary even though it is a fact of life like any other. It is as real as it can be and a thing everyone can be certain of, the place and time unrevealed. I remember many of my actions were questioned when Abhay passed away. There were comments like, “We have not seen her cry.” “Is she really strong?” And was also asked if one gets paid for the donation of organs. None of my actions matched that of a grieving widow but I had promised Abhay to be good and had told him to move on if that is how it was meant to be. I took stock of things and started moving one step at a time. The only thing that I had in my favour was the knowledge that Abhay was good, with me and we didn’t have the regret of having missed living any day of our lives.
Today, almost two and a half years later I understand death much better. Death is the next step to life. I remember having read somewhere that Vivekanand wrote to his brother before death that he was unable to hold all the knowledge that he had acquired and had to move on. Likewise, I also read that we all take birth to fulfill a ‘Karma’ and we leave once those are fulfilled. To me it means that we are here to write an examination, write your paper and leave. Some finish it quickly while others take time and then some find the questions easy and others find it difficult.
Being a teacher the analogy of the teacher and student comes to my mind. If I have a student who is everything a teacher would want in her student then am I to hold them back and not let them go to the next class? Won’t it be very mean? A good teacher would want her pupil to go ahead, progress then why not the same with life. I remember my colleague saying that she was very upset as she too has lost her husband at a young age. I could empathize with her and asked her what would she do if her son got admitted to IIT. She said that she will be very happy and ensure that he goes and completes his education. I further questioned if her son would be able to study well and focus if she called every day and lamented about being lonely, sad, upset and wondered why her son had to go to the hostel while others’ children stayed with them and completed their education. Would she question what did she do wrong to have such a fate? Her answer was an emphatic ‘NO!’ And so would be mine and yours too.
Death is undoubtedly the biggest loss, but I wonder who do we mourn when someone passes away, ourselves or the departed? The departed move on to be merged with a bigger force and be in a better place. Religion says that the physical is left behind to merge with the elements while the soul moves on carrying the lessons with it, another vessel, another shape, another purpose.
Yes, we feel sad and bad for ourselves and have every right to do so. We can sit and cry and feel sorry for ourselves. But we should not forget that death is not a culmination, it is a progression. It is not a dead end but a beginning of another chapter, another life somewhere.
So, get up and gather yourself to live yours well because ‘D’ is not just for Death but also for the Dance of Life.
Picture by @sunsetsbyneel on Instagram.