Death is certain for one who has been born, and rebirth is inevitable for one who has died. Therefore, you should not lament over the inevitable.
~ (Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 2, Verse 27)
I begin this piece with a quote from the 700-verse Hindu scripture, Bhagavad Gita, which is part of the epic Mahabharata.
As my title suggests, I will discuss how death has changed me. Mrtyu is the Sanskrit word for “death”. As I write, I am awaiting a dreaded phone call from my aunt to inform me about the passing of my mama (mother’s younger brother). He is on his deathbed, awaiting God’s call to return to His side, having battled Prostate Cancer.
In January 2020, my dearest Papa left us forever. Following that, we lost Papa’s elder sister in September 2021, Papa’s younger brother in December 2021, and one of my three mamas in October 2022.
My life has changed drastically over the years. As I lost one loved one after another, I learned many life lessons that have strengthened me and propelled me towards success. If you ask if I am not sad over the losses, my answer is, YES, I am devastated and heartbroken.
Nevertheless, as a departed soul ascends towards the afterlife, those living must move on. Their time on Earth may be over, but we still have time to right our wrongs and live life to its fullest. After all, nothing is permanent! We were placed on Earth to fulfil our destiny and when our time runs out, He calls us home. It is part and parcel of life!
I remember the moments when Papa passed away. I was by his side as he breathed his last. Many things were left unsaid. It took me months to heal. I went through the Five Stages of Grief: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance, before coming to terms with reality.
Papa’s death made me mentally stronger, as I recovered faster following the three subsequent deaths of my loved ones. I learned not to lament over their deaths. Instead, I celebrate their achievements and pray for their souls to rest in peace. I never speak ill about the dead.
As per Hindu customs, we perform the ‘Anthiyeshti’ or ‘Karumathi’ ritual on the 16th day of their death. It is believed to help alleviate the sins of omission the soul might have committed during its lifetime.
We chant the Om Shanti Mantra, which is said to bring peace and calmness to the mind and to pay tribute to the departed soul. Reciting this mantra helps to purify the body and soul from several toxic thoughts and feelings and helps to develop peace.
Om Shanti … Shanti … Shanti … Om
Two final lessons I learned were to reconnect with my roots and religion as towards the end, we are expected to give up our love for material and Earthly things and embrace a more spiritual path. This is a work in progress as I intend to follow the Golden path once I finish up my unfinished business here.
The final lesson, of course, is to reconnect with loved ones. There are too many thoughts running through my mind and I have many things to say to many of my family members. I do not know when I will be able to do it, as I grow older each year and with the God of Death just waiting around the corner for my time to end.
Like Papa used to say, family is family. Blood is thicker than water. I cannot live without them. This is a quest I am embarking on this year, as I welcome 2024 with open arms. Never leave things unsaid as I do not want to regret not saying anything. May the spirits be with me. Om Namashivaya!
Thank you for reading!
Cover image by Supriya S / Unsplash. This essay is a personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the position of Eksentrika.