Accepting the Death of my Father
The thought of losing someone you love is probably one of the scariest things you can imagine. It’s the connotations that surround the taboo subject of death I suppose; you just don’t know what it is, what has happened to them and how you are going to survive without them in your life. You don’t know… until it happens to you.
I was 14 years old when my father passed on. The 16th September 2017 was the 14th anniversary of his death – meaning that I have now lived as much of my life without him, as I have lived it with him. But I think it has only been around the last 4 years or so that I feel I have actually been fully at peace with his death. Today let me tell you my story about losing my father and my journey to peace and acceptance thereafter. I really hope that it can help someone out there.
My Father’s Death
I was too young to have ever thought about my parents dying back then – although I was no stranger to death, as my grandfather passed away when I was just 6 years old (we all lived together and I still remember it all so vividly). My biggest worries in 2003 before it happened were my school exams, my crazy curly hair and my friends at school – you know how it is. So, when the news unexpectedly came that my father had passed on during a trip to his homeland of Pakistan, I can honestly tell you that it felt like my whole world had fallen apart. I was broken. I had never known pain like it – it was actual physical pain, as if someone had gutted out my insides and left me hollow. I didn’t talk about it. I became quieter. Confused. I remember feeling so, SO scared and I didn’t know of what. I was even afraid to go to the toilet alone. I began having panic attacks – severe panic attacks, during which I believed I was having a heart attack and was going to die. I couldn’t sleep. The only place I would find some comfort was sleeping with my grandmother in her bed. There would be days where I would go to school and my whole world would be black – and all I would do was cry and cry and be unable to stop. And when asked why I was crying, I could never explain why.
Now I look back, I must thank my school and my teachers there, as they arranged a counsellor who would visit me in school once a week for an hour. Speaking to her really did help and I felt some parts of me returning. But one thing was just not changing – this sharp, unbearable pain that I felt every time I thought about my Dad. I think what made it worse was that he was so far away from all of us when he passed away and with that came so many unanswered questions – questions that to this day, I still don’t have the answers to. That pain stayed with me for a very long time and now I know why – it’s because I didn’t understand death.
Beginning to Understand
When we don’t understand something, we become fearful of it – this is why so many people believe that the worst thing that can happen is death. I completely understand that, as aged 14 and knowing no better, I thought exactly the same thing. For so long, I was a victim – to be felt sorry for because I’d lost my father so young. But as you grow, experience life and see the world, you realise that death really isn’t so bad after all and life becomes that much easier. You release yourself from a place of victimhood and allow yourself to enter a place of peace, and it’s wonderful.
Around the age of 22, just after my close uncle passed away after a long and arduous battle with cancer, I went through a kind of enlightening/awakening experience in which my relationship with God and with myself grew positively and beautifully. Society makes us believe that death is bad; when they sell us anti-ageing creams, when they drill fear into us in order to control us – but suddenly I was seeing the world through new eyes and wasn’t just going to blindly accept everything society was telling me. So I began to research and read – not only into my own religion, but also into all different religions and spiritual practices and writings. And then, everything began to make sense.
What is death?
You would think the opposite of life is death, right? But what if I said to you, the opposite of death is actually birth? And death, just like birth, is one of the most natural parts of life, so I wonder why we celebrate birth and lament death, instead of celebrating both? As you grow, learn and begin to explore both nature and your existence here on earth, you realise that we are so much more than just humans; we are limitless energy (and even science agrees!), and energy does not die – energy transforms. In the same way, I don’t believe that we die and that’s it, game over. Yes the body dies, but the soul does not – the soul transforms and returns to the Universe or to God, however you want to put it. I guess it’s just like being in the womb before we enter this world – you just don’t know what it is coming next. I feel that death is the same kind of thing – it’s a new birth into a whole new world.
Realising that this life is not all there is really helped me to find much more peace with my father’s death. But you’ll be surprised to read that the greatest peace came to me in 2013, when the closest and dearest person in my life, my beloved grandmother and the mother of my father, passed on quite suddenly too. Yes there was pain; pain because of the shock, immense pain of not seeing her anymore, pain of missing her and just wanting to hug her again so tightly – but with the pain came this great and comforting feeling of peace, because I felt like I understood death so much more. This time, I felt peace much quicker because I knew that this wasn’t the end. Peace because I knew that we will meet again. Peace because her soul was free, was surrounding me and was flying free in everything. And honestly, since her passing, I can feel her presence and my father’s presence every so often around me, and it’s beautiful.
I’m not saying that losing someone you love to death isn’t painful. Yes, of course it’s painful and of course it’s difficult – probably one of the most difficult things you will ever go through. But what I want you to know and believe is that death is not the end. Like birth, death is just a brand new beginning. Once you embrace this, life just becomes easier… you know? Of course, this is all what I believe and you in no way have to agree, but believe me, when you begin making that long and difficult journey into yourself and begin to explore your being and your existence, you suddenly see through the illusion that is this world.
So, where do I stand now on the topic of death? Well, in all honesty, I still miss my loved ones dearly who are no longer physically present. But in my deepest heart of hearts, I know that I will soon be with them again. I know that death is not a tragedy; I know that death is not the worst thing that could possibly ever happen. To me, death is now just a normal, natural part of life – not to be feared, but to be embraced. I pray that when the time comes for all of us, we leave this world with joy in our hearts, rather than fear. And I pray for the ones that we leave behind to find peace easily, until we are reunited again.
I’ll leave you with this quote from one of my favourite poets, Khalil Gibran:
“Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing.
And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb.
And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.”