A beloved passes away, and the world stops. That moment of excruciating agony when a soul realizes that it has been irrevocably ripped apart, never to be whole again in this world, is, most of us believe, the most painful moment of one’s existence. That is the moment when the bereaved would trade anything for the departed’s life — including his or her own. That is the moment when the prospect of one’s own demise feels like a welcome idea. That is the moment when the world and its material pleasures fade into insignificance. That is the moment when our own dreams, our pursuits, our aspirations, our life’s work, our accomplishments, our cares, our endeavors, our very lives seem futile and meaningless.
That moment passes. We survive.
To refer to a loved one in the past-tense for the first time feels awful. The heart misses a couple of beats and we experience a soul-wrenching pang that flashes down us. The scars open again and our pain manifests itself in the form of tears. We feel helpless. Memories rush by. We relive our last time together. We drink in our final goodbye. We’re inconsolable now. We are spent.
That moment passes, too. We survive it too.
We learn to handle ourselves better with time. We miss the people we lost, of course, and yearn to talk to them, to feel them, to breathe the same air and walk under the same sky as them. All the same, we accept the sordid reality that they’re not coming back. From mere surviving, we slowly graduate into living once again. Gradually, life begins looking good again. Its colors return by degrees, and though a few are a little faded, most are glorious as ever.
Losing someone we love is always painful. We cry ourselves hoarse when eternity claims a dear one. We cry harder when the one we love decides to walk away from us. We are devastated. We feel wrecked. Our life is sabotaged. To know that one, who had for so long been at the center of our universe, has chosen to move on in life without us is crippling. No consolation is solace enough, no counsel sound enough, no duration long enough for a dejected heart to heal. At a level, we can come to terms with a demise knowing that the departed left us in love and with love.The assurance that we mattered to them as much as they mattered to us at the time they drew their terminal breath, is deeply moving. It warms up our hearts even as we are heart-broken. But the sore that forms with the realization that we are not ‘good enough’ to be taken festers within us as long as our hearts beat. The dejection that comes with being insufferable and utterly dispensable hurts more than anything ever can because it tramples upon our egos even as it mauls our hearts. Time might superficially suture the gashes, but deep within the wounds are raw, livid, and throbbing.
Most of us would have come across a person whom we adored and who moved away from us, much to our grief. We might or might not acknowledge it, but we do give some thought to that person whenever we relax our guard.
Somewhere, a broken heart hurts. Somewhere, a soul is shattered. Somewhere, a pair of eyes are welling up. Somewhere, a despondent spirit clamors to be set free from its earthly ordeal. Somewhere, a body labors through just existing, let alone living, tortured at every breath. There are regrets and wishes everywhere. There’s happiness too, if only we look hard enough. Happiness that sprouts from pacifying a broken heart even when your own is crumpled, from lending a helping hand to someone in distress even when your world is falling apart, from wiping away someone’s tears when your own soul is weeping, from being a friend to the friendless, from sharing your table with the hungry, from lending your very existence to salvage another life. This happiness is more profound than any you would have received had you not been bereft of your beloved because it springs from selflessness. True, you will still hurt deep down — because you are human — but you will lead a fulfilled life. Your self-effacing goodness will empower you and though incomplete, you shall be whole. You don’t have to go far in quest of someone in whose world you can make a difference. Look closely. Maybe that seemingly happy neighbor’s will be the first of the many lives your goodness shall touch.