“Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise”, says Victor Hugo in Les Miserables’. I have seen the most optimistic people around me losing hope. The fear created by this invisible enemy originating from China seems unending. Vaccines, medicines, Oxygen supply, hospital beds are our main weapons to fight this virus and are falling short due to our population and other logistical nightmares. But can we afford to lose Hope? Hope is our most important tool to survive. Words have given strength to those
who survive to carry on the fight.
Let’s first start with a simple historical fact that can instill hope. The deadliest virus in 1918 saw three waves that could last only for two years till 1920. At that time we did not have the technology and know-how derived from science like we have today. Now we have vaccines and advanced care to support us. Other parts of the world have the luxury of less population density but we Indians will have to endure a bit more. Maybe we will reach herd immunity faster? Or maybe we can better logistics thanks to our innovative mindset or our inherited resilience to survive external threats historically.
Even if we discount that two years of suffering is a very small price in a larger context, tell this to someone who has lost a near one. They will disagree. Pain is the only emotion that they can feel. So how can those who around help these friends to recover? Mental health during a pandemic for those locked down has been discussed. But more important than that is the healing of the minds of friends who have lost someone close. Though experts or counselors can help them if required medically, for those who are stronger to find self-help or for those around, our books can be our main source of wisdom described in some words by the masters of the literature.
Words mean just plain bytes occupying digital memory when written or they can be some momentary sound created in space when said, but when heard or read with open mind space, they can fill in the voids created by losses caused by death. Tell this to someone anguished and maybe he will answer: “Time doesn’t heal all wounds. We know that’s bullshit: it comes from people who have nothing comforting or original to say” as said by Adam Silvera.
So how to make them ease out their pain using words?
You will have to convince them about the inevitability of death. Shakespeare has said, “All that live must die passing through nature to eternity.” Humans through their ancient scriptures and documentation have accepted that death is the most peaceful thing for those who face it. But those who are left behind need to be pointed to this collective wisdom through these quotes. As Isaac Asimov had said, “Life is pleasant. Death is peaceful. It’s the transition that’s troublesome.” “Dying is a troublesome business:
there is a pain to be suffered, and it wrings one’s heart, but death is a splendid thing – a warfare accomplished, a beginning all over again, a triumph. You can always see that in their faces”, said G B
That’s where spirituality helps us to console the bereaved by making them believe that death is a transient part of the journey and a new beginning. Our ancient scriptures have told that across various religions. Ravindranath Tagore has said;” In the dualism of death and life, there is a harmony. We know that the life of a soul, which is finite in its expression and infinite in its principle, must go through the portals of death in its journey to realize the infinite”. “What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly “says Richard Bach. Paul Coelho has said “When someone leaves, it’s because someone else is about to arrive”
The correlation between life and death is expressed by Yann Martel in The Life of Pi as “The reason death sticks so closely to life isn’t biological necessity — it’s envy. Life is so beautiful that death has fallen in love with it, a jealous, possessive love that grabs at what it can. But life leaps over oblivion lightly, losing only a thing or two of no importance, and gloom is but the passing shadow of a cloud
The most powerful protection mechanism we have to shield us from the sadness and emptiness created from death is memories of the love we shared with the departed. There is an unknown proverb: “When someone you love becomes a memory, the memory becomes a treasure.” There is another anonymous saying: “Those we love don’t go away, they walk beside us every day unseen, unheard, but always near; still loved, still missed and very dear.” J K Rowling has said, “To have been loved so deeply, even though the person who loved us is gone, will give us some protection forever.” “What we once enjoyed and deeply loved we can never lose, for all that we love deeply becomes part of us.” says Helen Keller. George Elliot says “Our dead are never dead to us until we have forgotten them”
Then there are gems from the most practical of human beings teaching us not to be afraid of death and pandemic. “I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it”, said Mark Twain. Paramhansa Yogananda said: “Fear of death is ridiculous because as long as you are not dead you are alive, and when you are dead there is nothing more to worry about!” Shakespeare himself has said, “Cowards die many times before
their deaths; the valiant never taste of death but once.”
The final quote here to all those who have lost near ones and feeling pain is written by CS Lewis: “The pain I feel now is the happiness I had before. That’s the deal.”
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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