08 November 2015

Death. Grief. Religion. Destiny.

Last few weeks were the toughest of my life and also the most enlightening ones. As they say, tough times are there to make you stronger and wiser.

I lost my father despite a valiant battle with cancer. It's been a couple of weeks and I can finally bring myself to pen something about the tragedy. This post is not about the poignant memories of my father, or how much he will be missed...those are too personal to share. This post is about sharing my learning from the entire experience.

1) Success cannot come through sheer effort... There IS something called Destiny after all.
The family and my dad fought so hard to get him out of the hospital post his surgery. He had been given 100% chances of survival. He had a couple of major setbacks and had to be in the ICU twice to recover. But he came through and actually got a discharge from the hospital after 4 long weeks. We were all so happy, so were he and the grandkids, who met him after an entire month. But he succumbed to a massive cardiac arrest when his nicotine-saturated lungs finally gave up. Fate had intervened - to what end is still up for grabs....but it just wasn't meant to be.

2) Suffering, illness, treatment all are difficult...yet not without hope. But death is so final. The counter stops at that moment. No matter how much you try you cannot rewind the clock. You cannot take back what you last said or wish you had said something else. Hope is no longer your friend....acceptance is. Yet death is the end of physical suffering.

3) You get acquainted most closely with religion when someone close dies. The funeral, the rites of passage for the body and the soul, the poojas, the shantis, the condolence calls & visits, everything proclaims loudly what religion you belong to. I am not bashing it; infact I learned a lot about Hinduism during this time. It is not only about giving moksha to the dead, but setting the living free of some inauspicious vibes too.

4) The first 13 days are relentless for the living relatives. You are bombarded with calls, messages, visits to condole your loss. There is no time to grieve amongst these and the arrangements for the various rituals - perhaps that is the whole idea. The first 13 days are solely to restore the soul to its rightful destination and the relatives can grieve later. The idea is to accept that the departed is well...gone...and you need to let him/her go with dignity. There is no option but to go with the flow mechanically.

5) Class and character of a person is seen in the way he/she remembers the dead or grieves  or consoles. Some are just so shallow and hypocritical.

6) Your physical being is so transient. Your possessions or investments are not the real legacy, the memories and your protegees(children) are the true legacy you give back to this world. Invest more time in nuturing them than running after career, status, beauty, money....

7) God truly works in mysterious ways. There was a huge disappointment and anger initially. But gradually the acceptance and introspection brought only gratitude. There is nothing that my father had not seen. This last year was filled with happiness for him. He got the best care and most devoted attention from all his loved ones in his last days. He was actually in a happy frame of mind when he passed away. That was God's way of stopping his counter.

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