I have come to realise that most people treat living and dying like some sort of parody. The drama that they put on for a show at the funeral rarely matches their attitude towards the recently departed in real life.
Someone close to me used to hoard things that belonged to her mother, for she had the misconception that her hoarding was akin to a declaration of love (in which she feels by doing so shows that love still exists for her mother). Yet, when the person is still alive, they rarely pay attention to them. When her mother was alive, they were often at odds with each other. She rarely visited her mother except on moments that she needed some sort of assistance from her parents.
Kids often think that their parents are a nuisance to them. Granted, not all kids think of it in such a way but even those that apparently play the role of a filial son were actually doing so for the sake of the property that they were confident would be passed down to them. It’s not that I’m saying doing so is entirely wrong, however, the intention here seems to be for the sake of getting a windfall rather than taking care of your ailing parents. More often than not, after paying for the funeral and other additional costs, the remaining money that they have will be lesser than expected.
Sometimes, when I followed my dad to the hospital for his check-ups, I’d see a lot of old folks sitting in the waiting area; their faces dropping with exhaustion and mirroring one another in a kind of sadness that you can’t seem to understand but can feel so much of. Noticing both my dad and me, the way we would banter and joke around, their faces would sometimes fill with envy, with want, with a kind of pain that I could only describe as longing.
“Why can’t my kids be here with me too, just like his?”
I haven’t seen my father in six months. (To be honest, I don’t really remember how he looks like much now, which is weird seeing as I remember the face of someone else who is important to me despite not seeing them for almost a year.) And while he often calls us to inquire about our days and vice versa, there’s of course a kind of fear within me that he’ll someday pass away while being a thousand miles away from me, therefore rendering me unable to visit/attend his funeral. Having gone through with him through all those excruciating steps before this, to not be able to have that one last look, fills me with so much of pain.
Again, I’m not afraid that he’ll die; I’m afraid of not being able to say goodbye – ultimately, I would want to have a proper farewell for a man who had given me so much when he did not have the luxury to do so. He accepted me for whom I was, despite my being was not in accordance to what he believed in or wanted me to be as. Moreover, he’s in a part of the world in which proper care is hard to be obtained and getting one is difficult without having to impose on other people for help.
And that’s the problem with living and dying in this world. Everyone is so busy chasing time, chasing materialistic items, chasing possessions, fame and fortune that the decay around them goes unnoticed until it’s too late. They seem oblivious to their shortening lifespan and are more often taken aback upon hearing the news of someone’s demise, apparently oblivious to the fact that someday, the same fate would befall them as well. No matter how we lead our life, our finishing line is all the same.
Humans are afraid to talk about death; they become superstitious; afraid that the mere talk of it would invite the Grim Reaper to their doorstep. If it was that easy, then why am I still alive despite wanting, asking, praying, contemplating and even weakly attempting to end my life? Does it really work that way – does the Reaper just hangs around, waiting for someone to invite him over?
We often have no idea on how to grief – grieving is seen as a weakness and an emotional outpour that we should do our best in stifling. However, it is only healthy and natural to grieve for the death of someone or something important to us – death comes in various forms and not restricted to only human beings. We should stop seeing it as a weakness, and instead understand that grieving is a necessary step that needs to be taken in order to move on.
Rather than treating death as an enemy, fearing its arrival and putting on a show when it comes for another rather than you, maybe greeting it as an equal, facing it with the belief that you have done and achieve all that you can without any regrets, would ease the tension surrounding the whole business of dying.
And cut it with all the ‘act’ and the ‘show’ you put on during the funeral, will ya?