Just last week, I received with shock the news of the death of a Muslim brother who happened to be a neighbor of my parents. It took some moments for me to overcome the shock and mutter "Inna Ii lahi wa inna ilain rajiun." I wondered what could have gone wrong. According to reports, he had returned from work the previous night hale and hearty, parked his car in front of the house and carried out his nightly routine of securing the car before going in to his family and settling down for the night. Things however took a sad turn when he suddenly took ill in the early hours of the morning. Alas, he was dead before he could get medical help. I learnt that it was all so sudden that his wife did not even realize that he was dead; she thought he merely fainted.
Okay, so I know that no one is above death; all the same, it is always a bitter pill to swallow when a young person dies. By young in this case, I mean a person who is less than sixty years old, I may not really know this brother's age but at least his first child is less than fifteen years- that's a pretty young age to lose one's parents, don't you think? Since he was buried the same day and I could not attend the Janazah. I decided to pay the bereaved family a condolence visit four days after the incident. The first thing I saw as I approached the house was the brother's car; exactly as he left it the night before his death. How would he have felt if he knew that he would never return to it again?
The next heart-rending sight was his grave just inside his compound .It was difficult to miss it since it was the first thing on the left side of the compound. I pondered on the reality of life; a landlord in life was now never again to lie inside his house. He had been given a place outside with no escape from the sun or the rain. My heart broke when I went inside to his family. The children, seeming to be unaware of what had befallen them were busy drawing pictures of football pitches and positioning their favorite players on them. They were having a nice time. His wife was however another story. As she tried to carry on with life, she had a wounded look on her face. She looked like things would never be the same again.
Seeing that look on her face brought some sad memories of my own flooding back.
It was the same look that my mother had when my father died. At the time, it seemed like life had stopped. We all felt we would not be able to cope without him. Being his partner however, my mother was the worst hit. It was difficult for her to accept that she would have to go through each day without him. AIL the plans they had made kept swimming before her eyes and she. I could not believe that she would go through it all alone. At least she was a bit lucky; we were all grown up.
When we lose someone we love to death, the pain we feel can be likened to the pain from a sudden brutal wound. The difference is however that the pain of loss does not make us bleed. Receiving the news of death is like suddenly suffering a wound with blood gushing from it so much that all efforts to stop the bleeding fail. You just can't believe he or she is gone, you can't even see beyond the moment. The burial is just like finally controlling the bleeding and having the wound stitched. Acceptance of the fact that that person is never coming back makes life sorrowful but at least we realize that nothing can change what has happened. It is the beginning of the journey to recovery. Just like the rate of recovery from wounds varies between individuals, so does recovery from loss differ. People react to loss in different ways and so recover differently.
The period of recovery depends on so many things like the level of one’s faith, one's attitude towards life, the environment in which we find ourselves and those who surround us as well as our own acceptance that our suffering the loss is the will of Allaah. No' matter how long it takes us to recover however, the truth is that we will eventually heal. Wounds always do that. Of course in most cases, we end up with scars just like we never forget those who have departed. In truth, the wound of the loss of a loved one never completely heals but it eventually becomes easy to bear. There would initially be the tears whenever we remember them to be replaced by the 'every other time tears'. This would give way to deep sighs and tears on certain occasions. In the end, we are left with a dull ache in the space they occupied in our hearts.
We can laugh when we remember some funny things they said or did. Memories of special moments with them bring warm smiles to our faces and the feeling of nostalgia. We long for them but we know they are never coming back. That is the time when we finally and fully move on. It does not make us love them less but it gives us an opportunity to carry on like they would really have loved us to. This is the time when the livings continue the struggle for their own souls. As I spoke words of comfort to the grieving widow, I drew strength from the fact that she would eventually pull out of her grief and move on with life; my mother and so many before and after her did the same. Death is a harsh reality of life. We would all experience it one day. Before then however, we would suffer the pain that comes with losing loved ones. We would comfort others and be comforted but only those who have a first-hand experience would understand. No matter how painful the loss is, we would eventually heal. Allaah in His mercy has made it so.
Before the healing of the wound however, we must remain steadfast in our faith in Him and continue to pray for the departed. May Allaah forgive all our dead and grant them a place in AI-Jannah.
May He continue to guide us the living aright, strengthen our feet on the path of Islam and grant us the benefits of worshipping Him both in this life and in the hereafter (Amin).
This article was culled from the publications of Deen Communication Limited