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Mistakes can lead to death, but death is not a mistake

June 2, 2010

Death is very much on my mind, following the passing away of my father in April. He was one of my earliest teachers, and is teaching me even now.

One of the hardest lessons I’m learning is, that mistakes can lead to death, but death is not a mistake.

It’s hard, because I find that however spiritually aware I may be, there is the human aspect that would like the loved one not to be physically dead. That defies all understanding and awareness, and obstinately wishes for the loved one to be alive. Actually, grieving too, I realize, is as spiritually important as serenity.

Many things went ‘wrong’ just before my father passed away. He had the healthiest lifestyle of anyone I know, yet felt and looked ill for the last two years of his life; doctors did not find the source of his illness and could not treat it; the air-conditioner on that last fateful night did not cool his heated body; the phone did not work; the ambulance took time to come; he seemed to stabilize and then suddenly, it was all over.

Many things also went ‘right’. My sister called just in time to be able to alert the relatives nearby to organize the ambulance; my husband was able to speak to the head doctor whom we know, in the hospital that my father was taken to, ensuring the best possible care; he was surrounded by loved ones who took care of him and my mother.

Yet, when I heard he had passed away, I did not want to hear it. There was a sense of – No, I can’t believe it. Yes, denial is called the first stage of grief, and it is very real. What I did not expect is that it went side-by-side with seeing his essence, his spirit, his soul. Both my sister, who usually does not see visions; and I, saw a similar vision of him. Felt his presence. Heard his words. We could sense his transition and yet at the human level, felt devastated, bereft, upset. Not wanting to accept what had happened. Wishing there was something to be done to stop it.

But when we begin to talk about it, the feelings vanish like mist. They have no foundation. The thought screams in my head: “Death is not a mistake. When someone dies, it is not because something happened that was wrong. It is because he had finished his work on earth.”

Everything my father did in his last few months, shows the truth of that. The way he organized his papers, even better than he already had, his messages to some of those around him; his gradual detachment and withdrawal from those around him, and also his lightness of spirit.

“I have never seen any patient leave as peacefully as your father did,” the doctor told us. And we feel at peace, knowing that even two days before he passed away, though he was frail, he stood on his own two feet. He never needed to physically depend on anyone; something he would not have accepted.

It would be dishonoring his efforts and his memory, to feel that leaving in this way, was a result of a mistake. Yet, without those mistakes, if he had been perfectly healthy till the moment of death, we would not have accepted his death. A reason is sought by the brain, and it is provided to help us to accept.

So, as I allow myself to feel through the different stages of grieving, I sense that my father is taking me on a journey very different from the trip he took with us to the mountains when we were children. Then, we saw the sights and wonders of Kashmir, or the Kulu Valley.

Now, I’m experiencing the uncharted territory of a mountain, the climbing of which requires everything that I am and have been. I find myself experiencing several of the stages of grief concurrently. How important it is to go every step of the way! Not to fly over any stage, but to experience it. To walk each step up that mountain.

The view is wonderful, but so is the journey. And my father has not left. He walks with us, as he is walking his own journey in that non-physical world that is even more real than this one.

Om shanti, shanti, shantihi

One Comment leave one →
  1. Barbara permalink
    June 2, 2010 11:51 am

    This was beautiful! Thank you so much, Meenakshi, for sharing your grief and your insight. Never thought of it that way before, but I agree that death is not a mistake, even if it takes us a long time to accept it and start the new journey now open to us. Losing a parent is so hard, it can make us feel orphaned no matter how old we are… And we are orphaned physically, but spiritually, as you point out, our parents are still there for us, and still guiding us.

    Those stages of grief do overlap and come out of order – I do remember that well from when my mother died. But my sister and I learned to recognize her spirit, especially in messages from the birds she so loved, and for me, from mourning doves in particular. You’re fortunate to have your sister to share this with, too. Peace and light be with you, my friend….


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