By Muneezah Jawad
O’ My Lord, Allah (Almighty), have mercy on my parents like they have brought me up through my childhood.
– The Holy Quran, Chapter 17, verse 24
I have dreaded writing this article yet have an instinctive need to. So with a box of tissues by my side here is my attempt to put into words what I have learnt in the process of grieving.
My mother passed away two years ago due to complications from Cancer. The greatest gift I received in all this grief, with Allah’s blessing, was time. I had time to be with her during her treatment here in Canada till she passed away in Dubai. I was with her at the end. The circle is complete. I took my first breath with her and she took her last with us and that’s the only saving grace in this story.
When a parent dies, certain facts are concrete.
The Immigrants’ dilemma
Usually immigration means leaving our loved ones behind. Meeting the requirements of citizenship and financial restrictions keep some of us from visiting for years. In that interim parents may fall ill, have emergencies or even pass away.
There is nothing more gut-wrenching than going back for a funeral. It’s a heartbreaking reality but something everyone must be aware off. Don’t let too much time pass in between your visits. We should make every effort to keep in touch with family so that we have the fewest regrets.
You will never get over it
When my mom passed away the universe shifted. Everything changed and a vital person vanished. Nothing can fix it. There is no treatment and no way out. With my mother’s passing went my maternal home, where I could just lay my head in her lap, forget my responsibilities and be a child again.
Other than my father she was the only one who was incessantly praying for me and my brother’s family more than she ever prayed for herself. Time is a great healer I admit, but not for this. While the pain may rear its ugly head less often, the beast is always going to be there.
You will survive it
Humans have a natural tendency to persevere and to survive. While it seems like the world is about to implode, days, weeks and months pass. It is like holding your breath, at some point you will gasp and take a breath. Life will overtake you. Children, spouses family and friends will gradually grab your attention for little moments and then eventually for longer periods of times. Hopefully you will burst into tears a little less and your moods will stabilize.
Only you can pull yourself through it
I have so many wonderful and supportive friends, many with their own losses, but each person’s story is a little different and their way of coping varies. While you may understand one another, you should not expect others to grieve with you for very long. Nor can you do the same for them.
Grieving is a process done alone. Accept what help friends give, whether is a special dinner, extra hugs or a sweet poem, they all mean well with all their hearts. Your grief is yours alone and there is no solution; don’t be angry when they can’t make you feel better.
As life moves on and you meet new people, they will not understand your moods and perhaps your depression. I know that I’ve changed since losing my mother and am quite apt to get melancholy. You cannot expect those who didn’t know you before to be as understanding or tolerant. I suggest you talk to them if you are feeling down, let them know the reason for your behaviour so that they don’t think that you are a basket case.
It’s not all about you
I also have a brother whose pain is equal to mine. Actually when someone dies generations of people are affected. It’s heartbreaking for me to think that my children will soon start to forget the little things about their grandmother or how much she loved them. Of course my grandchildren will know nothing of her. How could someone who meant the world to me mean so little to them?
When you are married to someone for 40 years like my father was to my mother, losing that constant companion is losing a part of yourself. When parents are retired and rely on each other for company it’s especially sad and lonely for the one who remains behind -it’s like a prison sentence.
While parents are alive, we must encourage them to lead lives filled with hobbies, activities and friends. Death is inescapable, eventually one will go before the other and this is when the partner left behind has to live on. They should have some way to enjoy life and pass time in a fulfilling manner. We need to teach them to make their lives anew and give them a reason to carry on with lots of love and support
If you wish your family to inherit your hard earned assets rather than the government, legalize it as soon as possible. We are not immortal. Death does not choose only the elderly. There is nothing more painful than having to deal with paperwork related to someone’s death. I had to take my mother’s death certificate to numerous places. Who knew that one piece of paper could be such a sad and heavy burden. Make sure you discuss your finances with relatives, make your wishes known and have a will. Some paperwork is mandatory but let’s not make this anymore painful than it already is.
Prayer is the only way out
I still wake up every morning mourning for my mom. A particular song or food will jog my memory and make me stop in my tracks and weep profusely. She is gone and she will never be back. The only way to communicate with her is in my mind, in my thoughts.
Three things stay with a person after their death. An ongoing charity, beneficial knowledge left behind or a righteous child who will pray for him. The only thing I can do for her is pray for her to be granted the highest place in Jannah.
I cannot even begin to repay my mother for her infinite mercies and unconditional love but I can be the best person I can be so that people know that the woman who raised me was the finest example of an amazing mother.
O Allah, surely [name the person] is under Your protection, and in the rope of Your security, so save him from the trial of the grave and from the punishment of the Fire. You fulfill promises and grant rights, so forgive him and have mercy on him. Surely You are Most Forgiving, Most Merciful.
Parents are precious, please pray for our parents’ health and recite Fateha for parents who have moved on to meet the Almighty. May He ease their passage towards Jannah and ease our grief, Ameen.