Grieving to Surviving

 

Grieving to surviving

Grief sometimes becomes unwanted guest in our life. it strikes you when you least expect it. Loss and pain spares none. Our life is package policy of some action, inaction, happiness, sorrow, growth, decay and that keeps changing constantly. While we can predict that life expectancy is 70 on an average, it also means there are people who live upto 40 only so that someone else can leave up to 100 which we conveniently forget. When you happen to be in unfortunate 40, it attacks one with such a vehemence that one does not know what hit.  What follows loss be it of failure in exam, not getting that coveted job, promotion, losing a girl friend or boyfriend, or death of loved ones, is utter desolation. N amount knowing from story books, movies, games, poetry, why leave philosophy does not prepare one adequately for the reality. Worst of all is the loss of beloved.

On death of loved ones, what follows is ethereal. First you become numb. Your mind, senses do not cooperate. Your body is constantly fatigued. You tend to rewind all of your life together. You question your every action and see where you went wrong and right, though you could not go back and change any of them. Your relations, friends, people who live with you do not understand what is going on. Acquaintances and others because it does not directly impact them tend to think why the fuss. They expect you to come back to the mainstream and function at your pre loss level at the earliest. This is definitely the case if you are working, studying, or participating in the society in some form.

You tend to question the society. You tend to question the purpose of life. You ask why me. You are on guilt trip. You think of what all you could have done or not done to avoid this from happening. You cry your heart out, of course alone. You understand that individual factors do not matter for every diabetic with that particular number or a heart patient, or a cancer patinet you can find thousands that have been living with that conditions for decades. For every person who has decided to end life following failure in exams you know there are millions who fail to clear the exam, take it up next time or look for alternative and continue to live happily. You come to an understanding that “Death defies Logic”. Any amount of rationalization, thinking, whacking you brain cells to make sense is not going to work.

Then there is withdrawal from society. The music that used to enthrall you now evokes no response. Some time may be anguish.  Here again, the songs, movies, dramas, entertainment full of pathos, to borrow from P. B. Shelley, “our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thought” that you used to enjoy tend to worsen the situation. For they are no more words, lyrics, poetry, music, sound, acoustic but new knowledge, understanding, reality. So they tend to make you grieve more. But ultimately it helps in catharsis. You come to a situation when your tear glands have completely dried and that there are no more tears left. A situation similar to blue sky following a thunder storm.

Slowly you look up. You find that your appetite has been non existing. Your interest in day to day life, mask that we wear by way of our dress, make up, fashion etc has been torn away. It is not possible to go to the earlier role. Or rather futility of it is understood. You see that the world has moved ahead when you were grieving and as the famous adage goes – “Time and tide stops for none”. And that you are a non-entity and your space in this multi-universe is like a speck.

You tend to think of the life you had. You think of the time when your loved ones can not stand your suffering, getting angry or being down. Your think of the time when they were rejoicing with you in your glory, cheering you, consoling you, supporting you through ups and downs, sharing burden with you, loving you, caring for you, protecting you, helping you grow, helping you claim you place in this world, in nutshell being with you forever!!!  You think what they would think if they have been here with you now. You think of other people who are there for you now. You think that they are gone and you are here must have some reason. You come to an understanding that grieving is not going to bring them back. You understand from scriptures that they are there, but nor in the form you know. From manifestation to un-manifestation.

They are moments that slowly change. The song both of you used to like. The rituals you used to carry. The song of cuckoo to which you both used to wake up. The dog that you used to feed. The trees that you have planted and have grown big. The wardrobe you have accumulated over a period and history behind each of the items. Innumerable nonsensical things that are shared memory now. You start to reminiscence. You think of the plans for future you had. You think what your loved one would have wanted you to do if they had been alive. You think what would be their reaction when they see you in current state. Something strikes in you. They would not be happy to see in despair. They would want one to lead life to full fill their duties, dreams, aspirations and take care of their dependents as they did when they were alive.

Each one of us have a karma to fulfill. Some independently some jointly. With the passing away of the loved one be it parents, spouse, children, friends, grandparents, relatives our joint responsibility there off ends. New normal has to be created. Nature abhors vacuum.  So we need to think how we will the vacuum created by the departure of our loved one. The time, energy, space, activity that we shared with them is not going to be available anymore to us. But we have to fill the time that is available to us. It is a clean state available for you to start afresh.

Start small. Establish a routine. Venture out to the familiar areas. If uncomfortable go to a new area, new market new place. Any thing that can bring you out of your sorrow state. Minute by minute. Understand you can spend your time grieving or doing that would make both of you proud. Being stoic helps. Start adding things one by one, be it books, music, movie, friends, events, outing, travel. Look at every aspect of your life. Keep what helps you and be ruthless in saying no to what you think has no place in life any more. Do this in every aspect of life clearing away the clutter and cobwebs both in your physical and mental realm.  Find activity that is beneficial to fill the time. Understand that your life must go on, and so also the relationship with your departed one but with different dimension. You owe your endurance, success, happiness to them and doing that makes you, them and everyone around you proud and happy. It is not going to be easy. It is not going to happen at a snap of your hand. It is not that you are not going to face resistance from the world around you. Yet it must be done. May the power be with you.

***

P.S. I had my own thoughts as to whether I should put it in the blog considering the topic is generally considered off limit. But then even if it can helps one person…….

 

 

Life, Old Age and Renunciation – Perspective from Bhartruhari’s Vairagya Satakam

Bhartruhari’s Vairagya Satakam

The hundred verses of Vairagya satakam are divided into ten groups and deals with criticism of desire, renunciation of sense object, oppression by evil men. Of vanity, indifference to worldly things, principles of time the destroyer, control of mind through wisdom, life of ascetic and self renunciation. His elucidation of life, old age, the problems and issues of it, and how to face it is a lesson in itself.

Men with property, learned, having respected sons, untold wealth, a beloved wife and of youthful age, thinking this world to be permanent, deluded by ignorance run into worldliness. Whereas those who consider the transient nature of the world and renounce it are blessed indeed.(20)

The objects of enjoyment, even after staying with us for the long time are sure to leave us sometime. Then what difference does their privation in this way make to men, that they do not of their own accord discard them. If enjoyment leave us on their own initiative they produce great affliction of the mind but if men voluntarily renounce them they conduce to the eternal bliss of self possession. (12)

31.The downside of every enjoyment in this world is fear. In health and enjoyment, there is the fear of disease. In social position, the fear of falling off. In wealth the fear of hostile kings. In honour the fear of humiliation. In power, the fear of enemy. In beauty the fear of old age. In scriptural erudition, the fear of opponents, in virtue the fear of traducers, in body the fear of death. All things of this world pertaining to man are attended with fear. Renunciation alone stands for fearlessness.

Similarly everything has to end one day. Birth ends in death. Brilliant youth in old age. Contentment is attached by greed. Happiness and self-control by wiles of gay women, virtues by jealousy of men. Forest tracks by beasts of prey. Kings by wicked ministers. Thus, there is nothing stable in the world. (32)

Life is insecure. Desire of youth unsteady. Realizing this, wise men firmly fix their mind in yoga for peace and equanimity. Wise work towards improving the man kind. (33)

Life is changing like a big wave. Beauty, possessions, enjoyments are all transient. Enjoyments are transitory individually and inexhaustible collectively, so we are in never ending wild goose chase which brings in turn stimulation and grief. Desire produces this terrible entanglement and hope keeps it on. So, free your mind of these.

The life of a man as ordained is limited to one hundred years. Half of it is spent in night and out of the other half one half again is passed in childhood and old age. And the rest which has its illness, bereavements and troubles is spent in serving other. What happiness can there be for mortals in a life which is even more uncertain than the ripples on the surface of water?(49)

The earth is but a lump of clay circled by a ring of water. Even the whole of it is but a particle. Hosts of kings, having partitioned it after fighting hundreds of battles, enjoyed it. these very poor insignificant persons may or do give. Nothing is strange for them. But downright shame on those mean fellows who would beg bits of coin from them even! (50)

Why you, my mind, wander about in vain. Be restful. Whatever happens in a particular way happens so by itself and not otherwise. So not thinking over the past, nor resolving about the future, I realize enjoyments that come without engaging my thoughts. (51)

Stay away from the troublesome sense objects. Take the path of highest good which is capable of bringing about in a moment the destruction of endless troubles; get thee to the state of thy atman. Stop agitating. Be calm and now and never again seek transient worldly attachments. (52)

In old age the body becomes shriveled, the gait becomes unsteady, the teeth fall out, the eye sight is lost, deafness increase, the mouth slaver, relatives do not value one’s words, the wife does not nurse and even the son turns hostile. Know the misery of man of worn out age. Seeing the grey hairs on the head of a man, and discomfiture of old age youthful women at once fly away from him. (53)

As long as this body is free from disease and decrepitude, as long as senility is far off, as long as the powers of the senses are unaffected and life is not decaying, so long, wise persons should put forth mighty exertion for the sake of their supreme good, for when the hose is on fire what avails setting about digging a well for water. (75)

Live practicing austerities, or serve our wives, read scriptural literature or poetry. Man having longevity do not know which one to undertake. (76)

The rulers of the world have minds restless like a horse and therefore difficult to please, while we are after gains, age steals away bodily strength and death cuts short this dear life. ah! Friend nothing is good for the wise in this world except the practice of austerities. (77)

When honor has faded, wealth has become ruined, those who sue for favors have departed in disappointment, friends have dwindled away, retainers have left, youth has gradually decayed there remains only one thing proper for the wise. Reside somewhere in the grove, in solitude and on the banks of river. (78)

This freedom to wander about, this food to which no meanness attaches, the company of holy men, the cultivation of vedic wisdom result of which is spiritual peace, the mind restrained in its movements towards external things there is peace, pursue it. (79)

***

Ref: Vairagya Satakam, Swami Madhavananda, Advaita Ashrama, Calcutta.