If I had to choose between dying active vs dying in my sleep, I think it will be former. Although, it really doesn’t matter since I will be dead. At least I know that I was active which is not a bad thing. Downside is that I probably died young.
Would my entire life flash through my eyes like they say? Even if it does, I wonder how will it work practically. I don’t observe things when they are sitting in front of my eyes. Making sense of events passing in a flash will be a challenge. But maybe its the significant events. Luckily, I will not have time to share what I saw with anyone to not to upset anybody if they didn’t appear in that flash movie. But time will tell.
On a serious note, the idea of death does make me a little nervous. If I die today, I will die with some unfinished business (I am not talking about work!!!). It’s usual things like not being able to see my daughter grow up, see my dog start behaving on walks, have the entire day under my control, hopefully and a few other business that I can’t mention here. Also, many who love me will be disheartened including my dog.
I don’t think I will die with any regrets. I shouldn’t. I have been lucky and if there is god, he/she has been very kind to shower me with love and affection, some degree of contentment, experience different aspects of life and gave me everything that makes me me, which I don’t mind.
Death to me means — end of a (or maybe ‘the’) journey. Which we all know is inevitable but most of us don’t know when. Those who know ‘when’, it is very difficult for me to contemplate what they go through. Probably depends on what kind of life they have led so far and what are they leaving behind. And maybe it wont be wrong to say that they wouldn’t be happy that it is coming to an end. Even the ones who are suffering with pain, medication or even incapacitation. Maybe life becomes more valuable and precious when you can see it ending. Of course there are exception where people take their own lives. I wonder what goes in their mind. I can understand mental illness which can takeover the control from us but sometimes it is not even that. And some people are still determined to end it. Even when they know that there is no turning back. They just give away what is the only thing that holds value. They end their journey too soon. They could have seen and experienced so much more. Whether painful or joyful but still a lot more.
For the rest of us, I think it never gets us bored of life irrespective of how boring our life is. Unfortunately we only learn this later rather than sooner, We spend a lot of time, firstly aimlessly (which I think is not a bad thing as gives us more perspective) and then to find a purpose, a why, a spiritual meaning. It may not be all of us but some of us do. I do not know whether it is time and/or life well spent. Many wise people say we are born with a purpose. Maybe they are right but I have never got a very convincing response when I have asked for details such as what, why, how, where etc. etc.
Yes of course we can create a purpose for ourselves and follow it. Maybe it gives some sense of direction and we do not feel lost, at least for sometime. We also have the option to change that purpose when we are bored of the first one. But I really doubt that someone has sent us with a purpose. Even if the higher being has sent us with a purpose, it will be to serve the higher being’s overall purpose and not ours. And if there is such a thing as a higher being controlling all of us and making sure we serve the purpose of the higher being (not for us), there is no need for us to find it. Higher being will make sure that we find it. It will play with our body and mind to drive us in that direction even if you want to sleep all day long. Just like when you are the ‘higher being’ while driving, the car doesn’t have to find the way. You find the way and drive the car in that direction. Having said that, if a purpose makes us feel useful and content then we must create one.
Back to the topic. I have tried but it is very difficult for me to imagine what I would feel when I am dying. Whatever I will imagine now will surely be very different from when it happens, even if it is tomorrow. I guess it will be a bigtime amalgamation of various hormones being released at the same time. Hormones to manage the sense of urgency, sadness, certainty, stress, pain, relief and so many more emotions. All at the same time. A little trippy I suppose. This is assuming I am in senses and not unconscious.
Anyways, a combination of this will be a strange mix meaning strange mental activity. When I hear of someone’s death, I mean someone I know well, I go numb for a few minutes. I am unable to talk or react. My throat dries up. Its not a feeling of sorrow. It is just a shock. Not a shock that it happened but a shock that it happened either too soon or sooner than expected. My next reaction is to think of what I am supposed to do e.g. would their family need any immediate help or in long term. Anything that I could do. Do I need to go there. Things like those. Suddenly my practical mode is on!
I have lost 3 of my closest friends from different phases of my life. They were all my age and died when they were 20, 25 and 35 years of age. Very very young and unexpected. I wasn’t in touch with them for a long time when it happened but it was still a shock. I used to spend majority of my day time with each of them when we were close. I don’t feel sad for them. I feel sad for their families. My friends are in peace. But I do feel bad for them that they missed out on some things that life had to offer which they may have loved and cherished. But we don’t know what happens after death. I don’t think we will ever know. At least in my lifetime. Maybe they are in a better place. If so, I will join them sooner or later. But it will be a crowded place. I think there have been around 40 billion people who have lived on the planet so far. 5 times the current population. It will be difficult to find them.
When my father died in an accident, I was 34 years old, supposedly a mature man. I didn’t cry when I got the news. I was in shock. Followed by logistics to get to India from Singapore in the shortest time and thinking about what all I need to do. Then for the 5 hours I was on flight when I couldn’t do much, I was just sitting there. Numb. Couldn’t think much, couldn’t make much sense of anything. Just wanted to get home so that I could know what I was supposed to do next. I knew as soon as I got home to people crying including my mother and sisters. My father wasn’t there. I was supposed to get him from the hospital. I got there and saw him lying on the floor. Didn’t look very different from how I saw him a few months ago. But at peace. Then had to take him for postmortem. That’s a place where you would never want to go if you don’t like dead bodies. It is a like a butcher house. When someone decides to jump in font of the train. Their dismembered body is brought there to figure out the cause of death. And it is not done very privately. I don’t need to say more.
My father died doing what he loved doing. He was out on his evening walk. He loved those since forever. He was 69 when he died. Longest anyone has lived in my father’s family so far. He was pretty fit and had many more years left in him and he was enjoying life a lot more than he did since I could remember. He was a devoted Sikh and his funeral was at the Gurudwara. Hundreds of people came to pay tributes. Many travelled from other cities. Obviously most had great things to say about him but some told stories that I wasn’t privy to. He had gone out of his way to help many people in his life. He never told us. I do remember he once took me to a slum along with a doctor friend of his to help the slumdwellers get medication and treatment, at my fathers dime. He didn’t have much money. He was using the money that my sister received as gift during her wedding.
Father was born in a well to do family. But lost all of it when his father died at a young age and it was difficult for my father and siblings to manage a difficult liquor business. But I never saw my father running after money. If and when he got some extra unexpected money, he would spend on us, his kids. We had everything including things we couldn’t afford. Luckily there were no credit cards or personal loans easily accessible else I would still be paying off his loans. Because he would have spent on us everything he could get.
Back to the story, my uncle, my brother and my nephew took an overnight train to a holy town to scatter his ashes in the river. We finished early in the morning. Our return was later in the evening. Uncle left before us and then my brother, nephew and I decided to go for river rafting in the same river. This is not how I had ever imagined dealing with my father’s death. I thought I would be in mourning for days. But there was no need to. And if I knew him, he would do exactly the same thing. Well both his sons and his grandson must have gotten it from somewhere.
I think of my father everyday, without exception. But in a happy way. I remember him smiling. My daughter’s one of the smile is very similar to his. And when I get to see that I tell her that. And then she smiles again. Ah I keep digressing. My point is that death only creates distance and takes away the possibility of being able to touch, see, hear the person and that’s what the ones who are left behind miss the most. But the good that death of a near one does is that it absolves all of bad or negative memories related to that person and turns all negativity into positivity. And it works like magic.
It is difficult to accept the only truth in life i.e. we will die. If we think about the memories that we create everyday, we must remember that it will be remembered by our loved ones. And again, maybe we should not worry about things that we do wrong at times. It will be kindly forgotten and forgiven by our loved ones. We make mistakes and no one will remember them after we are gone. They will remember how we made them feel — in a good way. So there is lots to live for with whatever time we have left.
I can keep writing, in case you are still reading but its already too much. Will continue it some other time. Death is a beautiful topic. That is one thing that is common amongst all of us including the animals. So much to learn from it…