Death is inevitable for every living being. The cycle is known, established, completely predictable, yet it leaves a gaping hole with varying levels of grief. The effect it has on people varies. Grief may be fleeting or intermittent or could last for months and years. It has the effects of stress on the body altering sleep and food routines and inducing sadness. No other inevitable things does what death does and I fail to understand why. The mind thinks of all the happy memories, overlooks any sad ones, criticises oneself for being harsh or unfair at any moment throughout the dead person’s life – the mind in fact exaggerates our wrongs and reactions once the person is gone forever. It , more often than not, finds all the occasions where one could have been kinder to the soul- again diminishing the persons flaws and ballooning up our reaction. This could be because death is a point of no return. Death is the one permanent thing in the ever-changing life. Nothing else is same or permanent for everyone. One might die young or old but the permanency is absolutely impartial. The more time you have known the person and the more time you have shared or the more impact they have had on you, the mourning and grief is more. I’m just repeating an obvious fact. But my quest is to answer why so much grief when the inevitable happens. One cannot go back in time and relive even if the person were to be alive. One might not be able to visit the person for many years, or ever at all, even if the person were to be alive. Yet it affects you. Yes, there might be unfinished business, there might be unsolved quarrels, it might be a sudden accident, it might be the result of a prolonged illness- but life on earth comes with this disclaimer. Absolutely anything can happen any moment. Universal truth. Every being understands this. Yet every being isn’t capable of processing death. It is extremely hard on some, easy on others but rarely does it not leave at least a tiny effect.
Sympathy is much easily explained in most cases – the family lost a resource : be it as form of support, companionship, income, happiness or even for boredom or loneliness. Sympathy exists even in cases where the person was a burden or had been suffering. Which again my mind doesn’t consume easily. If people , even if they die young , have gone through extreme suffering and trauma and in many cases with no chance of recovery, is not better for themselves and all around them that their suffering ends? In those situations shouldn’t sympathy be replaced by relief? Why do we go to any extent possible to keep such people alive? I’m not talking about people who have even a slightest chance of recovery, I am only speaking of those who, for the lack of a better phrase, would remain in a vegetative state. Why does a majority of humankind strive to keep that heart beating?
Which brings me back to the initial question of why is it so hard to let go and accept the basic rule of life? Life and death work similar to Newton’s law of every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Yes , advancement in medicines, safety protocols, tools, and equipment, do keep prolonging lives but nothing achieves immortality. I fear for the earth if and when humanity achieves immortality. In fact that could very well be the end of humanity as immortal beings might not have enough planets to thrive on, so destroying a planet is destroying the life on it. But until then, the law works, every birth eventually needs a death. People who wrote mythology did not assign temples for Brahma, the Creator, the Hindu god who creates life. But they assigned numerous temples for Shiva, the Destroyer, the Hindu god of death. They asked us to celebrate death, feed kith and kin, donate goods and money (in its simplistic essence, without delving into how it has evolved and morphed or gotten worse). They ask us to let go by cremating and dispersing the ashes or burying and letting the earth consume. Each group of humankind has some sort of ritual to not just dispose of the body physically but to bring peace to all those who continue to live. They gave us a process. But human mind transcends the template. Some follow rules without knowing or caring why, some are half baked (either they know portions or they think that they know it all or the process has evolved into being more outwardly than soul-searching) , some abide by it diligently. Does it help in overcoming grief? Probably not. Does it help to mourn properly and bring a symbolic closure to the mourning? To an extent but rarely to the level the elaborate procedures aim to.
Which yet again takes me back to why do we grieve? You grieve when you miss the person, when you think you will miss the person, when you recollect memories. You grieve because you loved. This isn’t based on the predictability of death but based on the quality , or the lack of, of life.
Grief becomes understandable when associated with Life & Love, and not Death. And grief diminishes when life is filled with no regrets.
Does such a basic emotion warrant so many obvious questions? Maybe not.
Did it help me associate grief the right way during a solemn and solitude period of losing a parent? Yes.
Was my dad the best one could ask for? High chances.
Was his family the centre and meaning of his life? Absolutely.
Did he have any family at all other than the 3 women- wife and 2 daughters? Nope.
Still could he annoy the sh*t out of his family? Easy.
Was he well-liked by every single individual who has ever met him? No doubt.
Was he reckless and careless? Always, other than at work.
Was he a major Sivaji Ganesan fan? MGR all the way to the level of a demigod.
Was he someone who never thought ill of anyone and accepted life’s challenges as if it was how it was meant to be? Totally.
Was he someone who always had a ‘Why me?’ when problems arose? Never ever.
Did he ever quit working even when life became easy? No.
Did he know things like greed, envy, hatred? His brain wasn’t wired in that way.
Did he educate his daughters and run his family on a meagre income of waiting tables? Unbelievable.
Did he ever take a sick day off from work? Never.
Was there one place he totally detested and never stepped into? Hospital.
Did he think he was invincible? 100 percent.
Did he die thinking he was invincible? To a large extent.
What was his favourite nut? ‘Pista’chio.
Did he have unfinished business? He lived by the day; with no desires and expectations come no unfinished business.
Did he crave for fancy food or comfort or materialism? Not once – always was simple in thoughts and simple in living.
Did he have an empty mind? Mostly.
Did he have any possessions? None, other than 1 bank account. True Karma Yogi.
Did he live a sustainable life? Most eco-friendly life I have known.
Did he suffer through ill health? For 3 weeks. The only time he was in a hospital.
Did he die peacefully? Enviably peaceful.
Do I wish it was any different? Not at all.
Do I miss him? …