On an online discussion group a couple of weeks back (the lovely Indiblogeshwaris), the topic of talk turned hovered around dealing with the loss of a loved one: by death, betrayal or a separation. Everyone had a lot to say about coping with break-ups and betrayals, but death was difficult. For a couple of minutes, I sat back and thought of a meaningful reply, but, nothing came to my mind. That's when I realized this wasn't a topic I could reply to with a single lined witticism or an anecdote with a message. It is one that requires a great deal of introspection.
The first thing I asked myself: do you really ever get over the loss of a loved one?
The answer is an obvious and painful no.
There is no technique, no meditation,no counselling and no pill that can purge you of that grief. The void people leave behind is permanent.
I have lost family, I have lost friends. Each death took me by surprise and left me in unsure territory.
After the disbelief subsides, you reluctantly embrace acceptance.
First come the memories. Words, caresses, images... There is just so much that can remind you of a person. A cricket match. A song. The moon. It's all very bittersweet. You want to remember the way things were but it also makes you so sad.
Then comes anger and vexation at the way things turned out to be, a desolation of sorts. The what ifs and if only.
Then, just when you're trying to go on, you see or read something that reminds you of them and you yearn with all of your being to communicate that thought, but you can't... And it hits you. Grief.
In most cultures, there is a mourning period the family of the deceased have to observe. I am a huge supporter of this practice. Don the white, relinquish the color, because that is how you are feeling inside. Death is something you just can't shrug off. You need the time off to grieve. You need to cry, reminisce, think and be with the people going through the same.
But the mourning can't go on forever. At the end of the period, you pick up from where you left off and let life go on. As usual. Things have changed, but, that's how it is. Moving on is always the hardest.
When someone close to you dies, a part of you changes irrevocably. It could signal the end of a belief system: you tend to question theism or you take to it with an increased vehemence. It could alter the way you looked at life, it most certainly makes you more aware of reality. It might also bring along a huge change in lifestyle. In our scheme of things, we don't realize how much a person brings to our life, till we lose them. We take a lot for granted: the support of our loved ones, the constant care of our parents, our health, our luck...
We just take too much for granted. We disregard mortality. And when we suddenly encounter loss, permanent loss, we can't reconcile ourselves with the way things change. Hence, the need for rigorous coping mechanisms.
As time goes on, the ache dulls. You reconcile yourself with reality and get back to routine. The memories will always remain. What changes with time is the way you reminisce. Tears lead to soft smiles and maybe even laughter, when remembering a funny instance or a silly nuance. Yes, there will always be that little glint in your eye when you think of them. That is the real eulogy to the dead.
"It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live"- APWBD
When you realize that death is but a necessity, as real and tangible as life itself, you cease to be terrified of it. You can focus on life better, then. When you know what each day means, you can focus on making it prettier. When you realize how precious happiness and love are, you can focus on spreading more.
Yes, death is terrible, but so is a life not realized.