“For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one.” –Khalil Gibran
So, this is how life happens. One moment, it’s flowing all very smoothly. Then. The phone rings. Happy your auntie remembered you on a warm Sunday evening, you greet her cheerfully. But you detect an unusual tone. And a sense of urgency. “My big sister’s been caught in an accident,” she announces. Meaning my mom.
The fourth week of January 2020 marked one year since mom passed away. It was a tough week for me. Just like the previous year when she was fighting for her life, I didn’t sleep much, my mind replaying the events leading to her death in January 2019.
We’ve all experienced it; the sting of death, expressed in the grief it brings. And grieve we do, when we lose a loved one―a grandparent, a parent, a child, a sibling or a friend who has been a constant in our lives. Whether the events leading up to the death are unexpected or we see them coming over a period of time, whether the dear departed is in their prime, or elderly, ill or in perfect health, the loss is always profound.
And we mustn’t shy away from grieving. It brings healing.
Allow yourself to grieve. There isn’t a deadline by which you should now be fine. Don’t buy into any such suggestion. There isn’t a specific quantity of tears. Be kind to yourself, take care of your health, rest and sleep, spend time alone when you need to and with true friends when you need company. Avoid the toxic people in your life when you’re not feeling strong. Be kind to other family members. They too are grieving and need to heal. Give them a call, give them some space when they need it, bring them a surprise gift.
And then it begins to get better. It really does. Slowly but surely, instead of tears when you think of your loved one, a smile might come. A beautiful memory. Gratitude at having known such a wonderful person. We sometimes don’t fully understand the extraordinary qualities of the people that surround us till they’re gone.
First anniversaries can be tender―the first death anniversary, the first Christmas, the first wedding anniversary, the first birthday… without your loved one. It’s good to laugh and cry at the memories with your family and friends. Your loved one somehow seems to come to life in your memories, in your laughter and tears.
But isn’t it beautiful that no person that ever lived can cease to exist? Besides the hope we have for eternal life, they live in our memories, laughter, tears and hearts.
So, if you are in a grieving period, don’t forget to mingle a smile or two with the tears, and to take to heart the lesson they teach us: Memento mori, remember your mortality. Make your life count.
May the river flow gracefully to the sea.