It’s the thing we fear the most – death. As seniors, by now we have all experienced the death of someone dear to us. But have you really allowed yourself to grieve? Nobody can give you a tried and tested toolkit to heal from a loved one’s death, but you can draw on the resources around you to heal from your loss.
This admittedly is not an easy piece to write. Most of us like to avoid discussing death and its impact on the people involved.
Whether it’s sudden and traumatic or long expected and peaceful, the “dropping of our outer form” is the destiny of every living being who has chosen to reside here.
Let’s start at our birth. It is widely believed in spirituality, that you can never change two things – the time of your birth and death. As mortal living beings we all know that the ones we hold dear (and not so dear) to us, will one day leave us forever.
One of the lessons that Covid-19 has taught us is that there is no escaping the face of death.
Covid- 19 said, “Death is a no-brainer.”
No one wants to die and as Steve Jobs said it so wonderfully: “Even people who want to go to heaven, don’t want to die to get there.”
Chew on this thought for a moment. We experience so much pain in this life when we lose a material thing of value. Losing even little things such as a watch or a phone can cause pain and disturbance to our lives.
What to speak of losing a loved one which can leave us despairing for years?
Death is that moment that rips us away from everything that we hold dear, all at once! It’s quite difficult to imagine how painful that must be for each person.
Whether it’s your partner of 50 years who has suddenly left an unfillable void, a soul mate sibling, a precious child, beloved parents, grandparents, your faithful pet and best friend forever – we feel like a part of us has died too, and that that chasm can never be filled again.
This is true.
Here are some ways that I have coped with the tragic and traumatic and untimely loss of loved ones, I hope it helps you:
Accept your loss– By accepting the reality that the body form has passed on, you are doing yourself a big favour. However painful it is, gracefully let the soul depart.
Don’t cling – Letting go can be slow, torturous and hell. But you have to let go. By this I mean: Don’t keep feeding yourself with the questions we all ask ourselves – Why? How? What could I have done better? It’s my fault. Maybe I was negligent – self-sabotage is relentless and mean. These self –destructive, guilt- ridden thoughts will gnaw at any thread of happiness you still possess, so STOP.
The soul or eternal self which has passed, needs you to release it with love and peace. That’s why we say RIP- Rest In Peace. Let your loved one go by emanating good vibes, prayers, unconditional love, forgiveness and peace – they NEED this from you to continue their journey happily.
Grieve – I found this the hardest. We want to show everyone around us how strong we are. We don’t want to cry lest it shows our vulnerable side. We want to appear stoic and calm. As we are all made up of a variety of emotional and mental constructs, each one of us is unique in the way that we express our grief.
It’s best to honour your true feelings. When you feel a surge of grief, have a good cry. Or whatever it is that helps you grieve— do that. Be honest with what you are feeling, and you will find that you can process death in a more healthy and natural way.
Celebrate – The best commemoration you can give your loved ones is to celebrate their life through the things that they loved. Whether a favourite dish or habit – reenact it, enjoy and celebrate their favourite moments. This I’m sure gives the departed soul so much joy and it helps you in leaps and bounds to process their passing.
Reach out – Friends and family rally around giving you their love and support. If you feel that their presence helps your healing, accept their company and spend time with them. Again, there are some of us who would rather be left alone to process our grief. Do what works best for you. Don’t be alone and sad. Don’t do that to yourself- there are so many people who will be your source of comfort if you only reach out to them.
Time- I will never forget that many people told me I would feel better with time. It turns out that time does not always heal everything. It doesn’t mean you haven’t let go or grieved or accepted your loved ones passing. It means that some souls are soul mates. They are a part of your life for as long as you live, so take them along your journey without expecting time to miraculously wave a magic healing wand. My sister passed at 28, which was 28 years ago – I still feel her loss like it was yesterday. And that’s okay. Time cannot erase soul ties, relationships or life’s experiences.
Be present – Yes its back again! Being present as in living every day and each moment without always clinging to your past is the best gift that you can give yourself. Live. Laugh. Give. Let life flow.
Seek help – If you find that it’s impossible to cope, and you are sinking into a depression, reach out to friends, organisations and groups who can help you.
Join a group – Meditation, volunteering to those who need your skills, prayers, satsangs are ways to raise your consciousness to go deeper into the understanding of life… and death.
Often the death of a loved one awakens us to a higher awareness of being, and propels our journey of self –realisation. This is one of life’s most treasured gifts.
We’ve come here to pass on from this 3D material world and evolve on.
Where to? Where do we go after we leave our earthly body?
Scriptures on Death
All holy books and all prophets speak on death. Pick up what appeals to you to understand more about death. It’s not as scary as we perceive it to be.
Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he dies, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.”
Krishna dedicates the entire first section of chapter two of the Bhagavad Gita to explaining this concept to Arjuna. The basic point that Krishna wants to drive home is that we have been identifying ourselves with something that we’re not. That we’ve been identifying with something temporary and material as opposed to something spiritual and eternal. It’s a classic case of mistaken identity.
The Gita tells us that when we’re looking into a mirror, we’re not seeing the real person. We’re only seeing the exterior covering. The real person is sitting within the body. The body is often times described as a vehicle and the soul as the driver. A vehicle can’t function without the driver. The soul is seated in a vehicle made not of metal, but of flesh and bones – our mortal bodies.
It’s explained within the Upanishads that the soul is one ten-thousandth the size of a tip of hair. The Bhagavad Gita describes the soul as, “invisible and inconceivable…unbreakable, insoluble, and can be neither burned nor dried.”
Bhagavad Gita 2.27 –
jatasya hi dhruvo mrityur dhruvam janma mritasya cha
tasmad apariharye ’rthe na tvam shochitum arhasi
Death is certain for one who has been born, and rebirth is inevitable for one who has died. Therefore, you should not lament over the inevitable.
Qur’an, Surah Bakarah Ayat 156
Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji ‘ un.
Verily, from Allah we came and to him we return.
The Holy Bible, 2 Corinthians 4:17-18
For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
“One clings to life although there is nothing to be called life; another clings to death although there is nothing to be called death. In reality, there is nothing to be born; consequently, there is nothing to perish.”
There are many more beautiful verses from various teachings so if you feel bereft, I urge you to look them up. They truly lift your spirits and transport you to a serene space.
Our theories may differ, our beliefs varied, but one thing is for certain, we are all part of a supreme energy – the cradle from which we take form here on earth. Till we travel back… to our source – of light and eternity.