Life and death

American author Joan Didion, writing on the death of her loved ones, speaks of the grief enveloping her ‘when a single person is missing for you and the whole world is empty’. Every one of us has experiences ‘of a missing one’. We grieve; we soon forget – even the inevitability of death. Which is one reason why scriptures recommend that we help in cremations and burials.

We are again starkly reminded of death when people who are in the prime of their lives meet their end. It would, in the haunting words of Emily Dickenson, appear that ‘Because I could not stop for Death, He kindly stopped for me’.

But as Byron has said, ‘Sorrow is knowledge.’ We are grateful for being alive and become aware of the small things – the flowers outside, the twittering of the birds, of family and friends, of our own existence. We accept what is happening as part of the greater scheme of things, that life is transient.

Just as we celebrate the arrival of a new born, we should learn to accept and celebrate deaths. And the life of the dead. With the fear of death reducing, we can lead a better life. We learn to get rid of the baggage – both material and mental. We can give to society that much more. We are truly liberated and step into the unknown with confidence.


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