Strangely, I’ve observed that there is this thing about dying and death in my space recently. It is either about a friend passing away, or a friend’s friend, or a friend’s relative, or a friend’s mom. Even in newspaper or one of my preferred blogs, there too was mention of death.
When I heard of a new friend’s mom who passed away a few weeks ago, and her next move to head back to hometown to support her dad, I pondered a little deeper about it. The mind is always like that, if the incident is not related to it, it would not care; but when the incident strikes someone whom it is quite fond of (and I am rather fond of this new friend); it would start its engine to inquire.
I wondered about the funeral – the rituals, the prayers – who is it for? I used to have the impression that these stuffs were for the dead, to assist their journey to a better rebirth or realm and it is up to the children and grandchildren to pray, pray and pray for don’t-know how many days to ensure that the ‘soul’ do not get lost, and that it is ‘guided’. Although I cannot say there is no truth in it, but I also wondered if the whole ritual is more for the living – their perception of giving the dead a last ‘gift’, or accompanying the dead for their last walk on earth. In my perception, the whole process seems to serve more as a completion for the minds of the living.
And I wondered about the moaning, the grief – who is it for? Am I really crying because the person is dead, grieving for the dead person; or am I crying for myself, ill in the heart that I may never see, speak or touch this person again, or perhaps filled with regret that I’ve not done or said enough?
The truth is, what has this dead person got to do with me? If he is not dead, good for him; and if he is dead, good for him too! Unless, there is something in for me, then him being dead or alive would very much effect my being, isn’t it? I remember when my grandfather passed away, I felt nothing. I was not very close to my grandfather at all but when we, as grandchildren held on to the car which the coffin was in that drove to the end of the road, symbolic of sending grandfather off to his journey, I cried heartily. My young cousin surprised, asked me, “Are you crying because you are really sad? Or are you crying because the others are crying?” I loved her honest questions and answered her too, in honesty, that I was crying because I was feeling sad; you see, I suddenly remembered as I saw his picture that I had never experienced a grandfather’s love before, and he was my only grandfather who was then alive, and now dead. I grieved, not for his passing, but for the moments that I never had which in my perception; only he could give to me. Is that true?
Just about a year or so ago, a friend’s brother also passed away, due to an accident. Her mother took it the hardest. When I took the opportunity to drop by before the funeral just to have some quiet time with the family, her father asked me, “How now, G? How now? He is gone! And he is so young. Why couldn’t he have waited?” I cannot know the grievance of a parent or a sister over the death of a child and a brother, though I can somewhat imagine it – and I am sure, it would have been overwhelming.
The thing is, if we are totally present to reality – the death, which is a fact – where is the need to cry or to grieve? If I start thinking of you, of the memories that we had, by going back to the past, I will surely start to miss you because I would have gone into the future too, and imagine moments where you are not there. I will start to feel sick in the stomach and start to cry because I am imagining a future where there is no you. And I would start questioning if I have done enough? If I had said enough? If you have said enough? If you have done enough? And the story goes on and on… and the fact is, it is with 100% certainty, that there is nothing I can do about it. Now, this is brutal truth.
Coming back to the now, have we not experienced moments where the dead is not with us? And weren’t we fine? And BANG! Comes the guilt of not grieving, or enjoying ourselves without the presence of this person who is dead – the should haves, should nots, could haves, what ifs…. Ahh… all violent, violent words…
Having said that, I am not implying that we do not grieve or cry; for there are some many who choose to put aside their own time to grieve because they have to ‘there’ for someone or others to support them. It is important to grieve, if there is grief; to cry, if there are tears; rather than burying these pent up feelings. At the end of the day, it is still back to staying present to one’s own state of mind. To be ‘there’ for another is indeed a noble gesture, but if we are unable to be available to ourselves, who are we kidding to be available for others?
In death, we grieve. We feel that we are crying because the person whom we love has left us. Never mind the guilt which maps out more and more illusionary stories and dramas; but death, is symbolic of something which we had all forgotten. It is the mere separation that we feel most painful about. It is an ugly feeling; ugly because we prefer the opposite of it; but yet, when we truly know that it is the essence of the person, and not the form as in body, that we have recognized and loved, and that very quality is in us; this person lives in our hearts, and has never gone anywhere. You see, everything is symbolic in a conscious state. Where is then the separation?
Most times, we are attached to the form but yet we know that it is the not really the form that we are attracted to, or have deep connection with. It is beyond the form, and we must know that if it is beyond the form – its essence, which cannot be seen or touched – is always felt and savored in quietness and stillness.
If we knew that in death, is simply the death of the vessel, of a shell; that a loved one is once again free, liberated and returning to Source, would we still grief with pain, or celebrate with joy?