On Celebrating Life and Death

There are always things that creep up on us. For me, I think death is one of them. I think the problem with death, which may even seem childish to admit, is that no amount of preparation can be done ahead of it. Especially death that’s not our own. Sure, we try to be strong. We try to put on a brave face. We know that it’s part of the natural progression of life, and death is, after all, inevitable. It’s perhaps the only thing in life that is certain. Yet, when death robs us of those whom we care about the most, we are left speechless, in tears and with inexplicable sadness that’s difficult to describe.

Once someone passes, we tell ourselves that we should celebrate the life they’ve led. An exemplary life, one like no other and no, I’m not arguing with you. But how do we continue to celebrate, especially if we know that there is this deep void within us that will never be filled once more?

At the same time, death also throws in perspective. It humbles us. Fills us with deep gratitude to care for and hold as close as possible those whom we find so very dear. We do this for a short while. Life gets busy, and it’s back to business as usual. Some days are harder than others. Some days we can hustle like Wall Street finance bros, and the next day, we are crying while taking the laundry out of the washing machine. This is what death does to us. Or that’s also what depression does to us. Both seem to take place so frequently and so very often during the last few years that now it’s difficult to differentiate. But we soon forget about gratitude. We try to catch a sunset, but it’s not intentional. We do so because we are stuck in traffic with nowhere to go. Invariably this leads us to slow down. But it passes just as the colour light turns green. We keep going and going and going until someone else passes.

And the cycle begins once more. This time you are left with a bigger void than before. I speak of grief often because it’s something that has contributed a lot towards shaping who I am today. But we take on this grief. We make it our own as we continue. This time with longer strides and heavier shoulders.

We find it difficult to love, difficult to celebrate because we know that death will be back. This time it comes early – informing you that it’s taking away someone you care deeply about. But you don’t want to let go because perhaps it’s only a bad dream, and we will wake up from it.

You try to respect the dead and the dying. You try to respect their wishes of not wanting to further grieve you, but we have passed that stage, haven’t we?

So you take ownership of a little more grief. A little more weight on those shoulders. But you continue to keep your head held up high. You are grateful for the life you’ve lived so far with the presence of those who are no longer with you. Oh, how better our lives have become because of those who are no longer with us.

But you know it’s time to say goodbye. No, not because of closure, because, let’s admit it, no one finds closure at the death of loved ones. But you need to admit it, acknowledge and hopefully await your turn. Until then, all you have are your words. Even for those of us who might not be prolific writers and are unable to describe the life of our favourite people with colour, vigour and enthusiasm, words are all we have.

You will always hold a special place in my heart. Rest now. Rest easy. Know that you are always loved.


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