Death: Dealing With It

Many people would say that they are not afraid of death. They feel that death would take them away from the miseries of the world. Some feel that after death they would go to the heaven and that would be the end of miseries of the living world. This leads them to the conclusion that people who are afraid of death are cowards. If that is the case, I am a coward.

To know what is death, one should know what it is be at the threshold of death or has to experience the feeling of loosing a loved one. I have lost not one, but two people who were very close to me, very precious to me, who were the reason of my very existence, my parents!

Death of a loved one is a huge loss. Grief, they say is the natural response to loss. Along with the loss and grief comes an overwhelming wash of negative emotions which makes you feel depressed, despondent, empty, alone, despairing!  You feel the crushing weight that seems to bring your life to a grinding halt. You know your life will never be the same again without the existence of the person whom you love so much, may it be you mother, father, brother, sister, husband, wife, son or daughter to name a few. You might understand these emotions if you have ever faced a major loss in your life. You sway in the waves of denial, anger, bargaining, and depression. You become angry with God for having done this to you.

Once past the initial phase, grief works to help you process the loss, hopefully moving you toward acceptance. The grief phase is agonizing, often resurrecting painful emotions like fear, denial, regret, anger, sadness, rejection, abandonment and withdrawal. Yet in the midst of this terrible time, grief has the power to change you. It can help you transition into life without your loved one. During this phase you wonder how you can break this mental block, accept the loss, and allow the grieving process to heal. Do you feel you will recover from this loss? Will you have mental peace ever? Do you see some mental respite anywhere on the horizon?

I have seen death very closely, when my mother passed away (at 10.15 pm, on 29th Aug 1998). I felt that death had snatched her through the mesh we had woven to keep her alive, keep her with us. The doctors could not detected whats wrong with my mom. She was ill for a week, hospitalized for a few days, and she just left us.  Even as I looked at the still body, I kept reassuring myself that she is alive, that she would get up and talk to me. It was a difficult time for me. I had to tell myself a hundred times that she is no more…that my mom is not alive any more. Shortly after she died my dad went right downhill. He wept the night she passed away and then he was composed, probably to be the pillar of strength for his daughters. In just a few months, he became very weak, lost weight, and looked much older than he did. He did not say anything nor did he show his emotions, but I could sense that he missed his wife more than I missed my mother.

But, death is one of the hardest parts of living. It is something you never get over, you just learn to deal with it the best that you can. Everyone deals with death and dying differently and there is no one right way to deal with it or I mean whatever way you deal with it is just fine for you. I am close to both my parents, but mom was always there for me (so was dad), but my sister was daddy’s girl. My equation with both of them was the same, but mom was also a dear friend in whom I had confided every minute of my life.

I was slowly coming to in the terms of loosing my mom when my dad passed away on July 18th 2005. They were not old enough to die. My mom was 52 and my dad was 69 at the time of their death. Their deaths were very different.  My dad was a shattered man after my mom passed away. He felt that fate played a cruel game with him and cheated him. He had three heart attacks and was still alive where as mom who had no medical history just went away.

He felt that he had nothing to live for and he stopped taking care of himself. He stopped taking medicines and never went for yearly check up for 7 years. It is a miracle that he lived this long without many problems. My dad just died in a matter of few seconds! His death was unexpected and a total shock to me. I knew that his heart wasn’t in the greatest condition. But he was able to work, walk around and do physical work. I never really knew how much stress he was in. He held the weight of the world on his shoulders.

This was especially hard since both the deaths were so sudden and unexpected. Not a day goes by where I don’t think of them. I miss my mom and dad so much but knowing they are now together once again helps makes thing easier. It does really hurt knowing I no longer have parents but I do believe they are now angels taking care of me and my family. I’m still coping up with the situation taking one day at a time. It is difficult to forget the wonderful years I had spent with them, but I think we should learn to manage our overwhelming feelings of grief, confusion and anger. Else it becomes difficult to move on.

 I did not want to hear from friends and relatives on how sorry they are! I know that explanations on the ways of life seldom console. I don’t do it myself. But there was a time when I just wanted to talk. I wanted someone to listen to me and understand what I was going through and importantly why! I wanted to come out of the depression, the feeling of anger, sadness, grief and more emotions I had no control on. I was extremely angry because I had lost both my parents. I was sad because I loved them. I was depressed because I felt lonely in this world that’s full of people! I regretted what happened because I could not spend much time with either of them.

 I though I could deal with my sorrow by talking about my feeling. I wanted to vent out my thoughts, my sorrow, my anger, my grief—but with whom? My husband did all the duties a son would do and I appreciate and value that a lot. But I was all alone with my pain, my emotions, and my agony! I did not want to talk about my feeling with people who dis not understand. NEVER! I think I can discuss it with a stranger who understands what I feel, but not with a known person who did not even turn back to ask how I felt after the death of my parents.

After the funeral, we returned home (from Trivandrum to Pune), I got into the loop of helping my daughter Soumya in completing her schoolwork, studies, and homework that she missed for the week. Later the rains and the flood related adventures in Pune kept my mind preoccupied over for about a week! I realized that as long as I am busy with work or some task, my mind is under control as it has something else to think about when all that is done, at the end of the day I have time–that is when I get the scenes of time spent with dad running in front of my eyes like a movie and I go into the depression mode. I feel a total emotional loss, which I know can’t be covered.

I decided to take care of my life by burning out, by not allowing thoughts to enter my mind. It was stressful, but better than being depressed! I involved myself in all possible activities that would keep me on my toes—teaching my daughter, cleaning up the house, washing, rearranging, taking work home from office, exercising, reading an interesting book, etc. I did all possible task to keep my mind occupied and went to sleep only when I was tired and felt too sleepy to keep my eyes open. I took care of my emotions and did my mourning all alone. It did help me to keep my balance, but it did not help me to heal. It just made me feel much more lonelier and realize that I am on my own to handle my feeling and my grief.

Ironical as it sounds, I was glad about the floods in Pune because it kept my mind occupied and concerned about it for a week. Infact it kept me worried so much that I could not think of anything else. Then I got busy with Soumya’s exams and her studies for exams. Thus I was busy with not much time left for my mind to wander around and reach my parents. Now, thinking back, I feel that my parents did it for me because they know how I am, how emotional I am, and how touchy I am. For me, all these have been a blessing in disguise. But whatever I feel, I feel lost, yes even at this age, I feel lost!

I was not really able to talk to anyone about what I was dealing with.  I don’t think any one will understand what I felt, how I felt and why I felt the emotions, that built up in me and how I felt about the whole situation. People might have found it strange to see me composed. I did not want anyone else to know what I felt as my emotions were my own. I cried and wept only when I was all alone with just my thoughts for company.

This incident has made me realize the importance of reliable relationships. It is either there or not there—nothing in the middle. You have a company in life just or you have none even if you are always surrounded by people. I feel the despair and loneliness over the loss, but I also know that withdrawing and wallowing in that despair can affect the physical well-being, relationships, spiritual life, and overall ability to deal with living.

Being stuck in despair is like water collecting and stagnating in a pool. It’s a breeding ground for negative, unhealthy reactions to loss—like depression and negative thoughts. I wanted to come out of it…. But it was a part of my life. The more I tried to throw the depression out of my system, the more it became a part of my existence taking a toll on my physical and mental strength.

This incident also has made me realize how important life is and how lightly we take it. Celebrate your existence. Celebrate, for there are people who loved you and still love you very much. Ever since, I have made a decision to enjoy life to it’s fullest. I realized what it is like to be alive, to have the feeling that you are alive when hundreds of people are dying. I could have been the one chosen by death. The actual event of dying is something I would rather not have to endure.

How you deal with a situation and heal, entirely depends on you. Like waves of the ocean that vary in size, strength and consistency, grief keeps your emotions flowing and moving toward healing. Within that wash of grief, you may at times feel a sense of despair. This is not abnormal or unhealthy in itself, but when despair and despondency overpower you, taking control of your emotions, the natural process of grief can be stunted. Probably that’s what happened with me.

I decided to channalize my grief, my negative thoughts, and my negative energies. I began to write the book that dreamt of writing. Within 2 years, I wrote 7 books and had them published too. This was the positive outcome of channelizing my negative energies in a positive manner.

When people are trapped in despair, they may feel like life is no longer worth living. No… If there is life, there is death. We have no control over this. But we definitely have control over our thoughts, how we handle situations and our lives. If you find yourself mired in despondency, and you think you are constantly moving in the waves of grief and are engulfed in stagnant pool of despair, try to come off it. If it is not possible, it may be time to seek outside help.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: