Written on: 9/Nov./2018
Two years ago, we lost our family pet, Rowdy. An extremely loving Labrador Retriever, Rowdy was like my shadow. When she died, it was the first time we experienced the death of someone within the family. I was there when her spirit left her body. Her death brought the family closer as a unit and taught us what it meant to keep a promise.
About a month ago, I lost my dad. By the time I arrived at the hospital, the medical equipment was picking up no signal of life. His spirit had left the body but not the planet. What happened just before his death and until a few days after, taught me things that I will never forget and some of them may be hard to implement in my life.
- Seek forgiveness from God. On his last day, his prayers were unusual. He was asking for forgiveness. I didn’t understand it then, but now, it looks like he knew his time had come. He truly is resting in peace.
- Make peace with immediate family. Three days prior to his death, he cleared a misunderstanding with me. And two days prior, he tried to help his brother from financial trouble. From a troublemaker, he was becoming a peacemaker.
- Bless the people around you and even the ones that worked for you. He prayed to bless the staff in our companies.
- Your left hand need not know what charity the right hand does. At the funeral,there were so many unknown faces that thanked him for his contributions like paying hospital bills, education fees and so on. He changed the lives of so many families. Decades ago, one young girl had joined our factory to work as a daily labourer and my dad “fired” her only to educate her. Today, she is an Assistant Professor in an Arts & Science College.
- Legacy is important.He donated his body to the government hospital because not all students have access to bodies during their practical classes. This inspired some of our friends to think about doing the same. He leaves no grave but he would have helped many students to become better doctors.
- You will always have insensitive people coming to the funeral.From a guy taking a selfie with the coffin, to people attending the funeral for the sake of social/cultural obligation (business partner’s friend, that you don’t know and is there more for his friend than you), newspaper agents who hound you for “advertisement”, some for bragging rights and so on, I saw them all.
- Ensure that all legal paper work is updated before your time. Banks don’t tell you simple things when you open a bank account, greedy family members do not provide you certain information to write your will (in case of shared properties) and so on. To all the departments, you need to prove that you are the legal heir. But, because my dad had legally documented his wish to donate his eyes to the eye hospital and body to the medical college, we didn’t have to wait at the Police station or at the college for all the legal formalities. It got done quickly and smoothly. Paper work matters.
- Ensure that you fulfil the wishes of the spouse/child. As we executed the final journey as per my mom’s wishes, some insensitive “experts” on funeral service were trying to push their agenda in the name of culture or tradition. I am glad I could be firm and ensured that the final journey was as per the wishes of the loved ones.
- Proactively discuss death. Within our immediate family, we have discussed life after the death. This enabled us to know each other’s wishes. And during the last few hours, we didn’t have to second-guess any decisions. We ensured that dad’s wishes were all fulfilled.
- Unknown angels will appear.People that we know will help because they care or they are obligated to the family. But then, sometimes, unknown angels will appear, too. The restaurant next to our house was kind enough to offer refreshments and food without asking for any money. Only on the 4thday, after all the ceremonies, we settled their accounts. Thank you.
- Everyone mourns the loss differently.Some break down, some are quiet, some show anger, and some binge eat/drink. A few keep themselves occupied. There is no right or wrong way to grieve. Give everyone his or her space.
- Ignore the speakers.During the semi-formal ceremonies, some characters will speak as soon as a microphone is provided to them. Let them speak but you know how they treated the family when he was alive. We don’t need a microphone. He can hear what is truly in our hearts.
By God’s grace, my father has not left us with any debt. No banker or moneylender will knock our door for dues. Some paperwork would have been simplified if the various stakeholders were diligent or caring. As we write a new chapter in our lives, I wanted you to know that death is not kind to the ones that are left behind. The least we can do is, ensure that we don’t stand in their way. The last thing that you want to do is, stand in a government office, not knowing what’s more important – the legality of the documents or time to mourn the loss.