Grieving to Death & Coming to Terms With It

I can’t help but contemplate how we pray for a soul that has just passed away after every single call for prayer. That’s at least 5 people dead in ONE city! Sometimes even 3 souls at once, several times a day; from adult men and women to young boys and girls, to babies. Now imagine around the world?

Death steals, every second of one’s days’. With every breath you take (mostly unconsciously and for granted too), someone is breathing his/her last.

Death also does not discriminate. There are no alternative choices that “could have been” done to have saved the soul of someone already written for him/her to be gone.

I remember first losing a very close loved one at the age of 13. Then again at 16. Then a second time, same year. And then at 18.

My first losses were the hardest; grief unfolded in the longest stages.

The first is shock and denial.

Time just stops. You get off the ride of life, isolate yourself, and unconsciously touch the borderlines of death.

You then get angry and feel guilty, and you start bargaining. “If only I/we didn’t…” Forgetting that it is not us that have the control over when our journey in this life ends.

You become overwhelmed with agony and are convinced no one can really understand the depth of your pain…and the truth is, no one can till they lose that same exact person (and that’s presuming you had an equal connection). Even if they say what you need to hear, it won’t exactly help because you’re busy being tortured by your own incomprehensible internal emotions.

You can’t eat or drink, as though your heart and soul are rejecting nourishment if only to give a break to your already emotionally-stunned system.

Depression takes over. You cry so much till your eyes run dry (or at least I hope you do let it out).

You want to hang on tightly to anything tangible that would remind you of the significant other.

And your  body drowns in convulsion of fear of the unknown.

The stages can take as long as you need and allow them. It takes months to grieve, and the most important thing is to let yourself feel every stage fully and at your own pace.

It takes even longer to start fully living again.

Yet, still, one must be determined to get to the light.

As the years pass, and you love and lose over and over, you realize the normalcy and equality in the journey of grief. You begin to accept.

The news of a death doesn’t make you howl and weep as loudly anymore (that doesn’t mean it hurts any less either). By 21, I’d gotten so used to death news that even washing the body of a loved one of my own blood and with my own hands no longer shook me. I did it in strength, with a peaceful smile. As we lowered her body to the grave, silent tears of joy dropped, although my heart was breaking in the meanwhile.

If you’re faithful, determined to live right, and are patient you learn to let go of the reins in peace and gratitude. You surrender to life and death as one.

I am not saying this is easy, it is the hardest journey to embark on. It takes years to internalize the fact life is so temporary. It takes years to find the strength to have faith and hope even when everything is so bleak. It takes years to learn to deal with missing and pain that never goes away fully. To learn to be gentle with yourself when you are consumed with the ugliest of emotions. And to surrender to the question’s you’ll never have answers to.

But if you survive this, you become a warrior. You free yourself from your own fears, allowing yourself to live fully and in alignment with your truth. And you will survive.

There is no tribulation that was sent to you that you cannot handle. You may even come to see the blessings in your biggest of losses one day.

I have found peace in knowing the following:

  • I need not fear death if I live well. And I live well doing good to others for myself, not with heaven in mind. Your deeds will take care of you on their own!
  • In believing that a genuine connection of blood and/or love does not end in this life. Love bonds you eternally. I still have occasional powerful dreams of those I lost on the other end and feel their energy around me. I tell myself, they’re alive, just somewhere better than this earth. People only truly “die” if you choose to kill love and forget them, otherwise, they’ll always be alive within you. Always keep those you love in remembrance, whether they’ve parted this life or not. Feed your faith enough to believe you’ll be united soon again.
  • In realizing that I need not worry too much about those that are now in God’s hands’ for He is Merciful and All-Forgiving beyond measure. Your sins can’t be bigger than He is. He created you after all. It is people that are heedless, ominous and unmerciful to one another.
  • When it comes to the fear of losing family and loved ones, I use it as a reminder to not take their presence for granted and to share the best of my self and my life with them.

Till today, I always wake up with death in mind, it simply makes me live better and love harder. There is no greater way to live than consciously; aware of and focused your today’s and life’s inevitable ending for everyone.

Finally, remember, you are not alone. We’re all in this together.

*Note: this was written on the 28th last month during my visit in Mecca, hence, the first paragraph on prayers. In Saudi, after each call of prayer (5 obligatory one’s for Muslims’) they mention a deceased and pray for that person(s) that has just passed away in the city, be it Mecca or Medina.

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