TW – Death
“But she was a good person. Why do bad things happen to good people”?
This question has bothered me ever since I first experienced death. I was in grade 4 and a student from my school had passed away in a road accident. I didn’t know her and had never spoken to her. But, I always saw her with her sister, riding together to a coaching institute. One day, I saw the two sisters coming to that institute. It was like any other day but I felt stuck with grief looking at them. I couldn’t understand why but I remember going back home and feeling low throughout the day. The next morning, I heard about her demise. They had been in an accident. While the younger sister survived, the elder sister couldn’t make it. As soon as I heard the news, I went to my classroom and set there by myself, crying. It didn’t make sense to me how I knew but most importantly, it didn’t make sense to me why I was crying for someone I didn’t know.
Years later, I still don’t have the answer to how I knew something was about to happen but I know why I was crying – I was grieving. I was grieving for the sister who passed away and for the sister who stayed. I was grieving for the family who lost their daughter and I was grieving for her friends. I didn’t have to know her to know what the passing away of someone can do to a family and close ones.
The meaning of death has always eluded me. Sometimes I have been left emotionless and sometimes scared. When my maternal grandfather passed away, I was surprised by how numb I felt. I took the role of the supporter and tried to support my mother in her grief. The only time I could cry was when I saw the pain in my mother’s eyes. Years later when my paternal grandfather passed away, I became a pillar of support for my entire family. This time, my dad’s and sister’s tears did not make me cry so I just hugged them silently. The only thing that could eventually make me cry was wondering why I could not cry.
Grief strikes everyone in different ways. For some, the reaction is immediate. For some, it takes a while and for some, it takes years. It comes and goes in waves. There is no right way to grieve and there is no right time to grieve. It’s okay to not have a reaction and it’s also okay to break down. It’s okay to let it come in waves and it’s also okay to not know how to grieve. I grieved for my maternal grandfather through a series of dreams. For my paternal grandfather, it took years for grief to strike and months to understand what I was grieving.
Last night, I heard the news of a colleague passing away and I again felt the same distant yet familiar feeling strike me. I was shocked and sent my blessings to his family, friends, and loved ones. Today at the office, we had multiple meetings and interactions where people shared how they were feeling. While some knew exactly what they felt, some were silent. Some were trying to support the others and some were trying their best not to break. Here again, I took the role of a listener to give people space to grieve, sending them my love and blessings along the way.
During one such conversation, someone asked the same question that has always haunted me, “But he was such a good man. Healthy and full of life. Why?” The question made me wonder and I heard an answer – “Because his soul had served its purpose for this lifetime”. The answer gave me goosebumps and it started to make a little more sense.
We think of people’s purpose in a physical sense – relationships, finances, properties, etc. But most of the time, we don’t know what their soul’s purpose was. We don’t know why their soul chose to take birth, why it made connections with whom they met, why they made choices that they made or why they left the way they did. We don’t know what their soul had to learn or teach, how they chose to influence this world – in a good way or bad, or even where they will go next. But they were here for something and whatever it was – they achieved. So they left – maybe to come back for another lesson or to transcend.
I had the same thought when Paul Walker passed away. I used to ask why is it that good people die but bad people stay? A part of me had whispered an answer back then – “Because their role is complete while the others are still serving their role”. I had ignored the answers back then and instead blamed God for being unfair. Today, that answer made a little more sense. “His role was complete while others were still playing their role.”
So grieve for those who have left. Grieve for yourself and for others suffering the loss. And bless and celebrate the soul that has passed – for it accomplished what it was here for.