Warning: This post is pretty morbid. I don’t know how others contemplate death but, on reflection, I’m not sure others have thought about it the way I have in the last week. If you are uncomfortable with thoughts of death and what happens to us when we die, please do not read on.
My beloved Grandmother, Amne, my Tayta, passed away one week ago.
Tayta was an incredible person. I know people always say that about people who pass away but she really, truly was a wonderful woman. She loved her family and her community so fiercely. She worked hard to raise her children through hardship and civil war. She was confident and charming. She was so, so blunt and so hilarious. She had an all encompassing warmth that just filled our hearts with love, despite the fact that she lived so far away in Lebanon.
And now she’s gone. All of that vanishes, leaving nothing by a memory. I am eternally grateful that I went to Lebanon to see her last year. That I got to sit with her and hold her. To laugh with her and talk about life and love with her. I wish we had more time. I wish we weren’t separated by so much distance.
This was the first loss of a family member that I have dealt with and it has truly rocked me to the core of my being. Over the last week I have dealt with so many thoughts and feelings.
At first I couldn’t believe it was true. Even though she had been unwell and we had braced for this possibility, I don’t think I had truly prepared for her loss. How could she be gone?
That feeling was very quickly replaced with a deep sense of loss, like my heart had fallen through to the ground. I quickly realised that was it, I’d never be able to see her or speak to her again. She was gone from the world.
And then I thought about what it means to be gone. For her lungs to stop inhaling and exhaling. For her blood to stop coursing through her veins. For her mind to stop processing her existence, stop feeling.
I thought about my grandpa who had been married to her for over 60 years and loved her more than anyone has loved someone else. His soulmate was gone and he was left behind, struggling to deal with her loss through his own senility, begging his children to go back and remove her from her grave because she’s scared of the dark.
I have found myself distraught at the thought of her small, cold body laying in a deep, dark grave. I can’t shake the thought of her body decomposing in the ground, so far from the rest of us. Even now, as I write this post, I’m overwhelmed with grief, with tears, with a sense of loss and despair. But I write this post because right now, I cannot believe what a profound impact her loss is having on me.
I have never been good at goodbyes. I cry at airports when I say goodbye to my loved ones. I cry watching others say goodbye to loved ones. I am struggling to say goodbye to her soul as it goes on its journey.
I’m struggling with the burden of being the child of migrants who moved away from home, from their family, from their core. It suddenly feels like we have all been torn from each other’s lives due to circumstance and it’s devastating.
I have found myself questioning our existence, the purpose of life when we all go at different times, getting hurt and hurting others by the loss.
I have always found comfort in the last few verses of a particular chapter of the Quran, 89:27-30. The verses state:
يٰۤاَيَّتُهَا النَّفۡسُ الۡمُطۡمَـئِنَّةُ
ارۡجِعِىۡۤ اِلٰى رَبِّكِ رَاضِيَةً مَّرۡضِيَّةً
فَادۡخُلِىۡ فِىۡ عِبٰدِىۙ
This translates to:
Oh peaceful and fully satisfied soul
Return to your lord well-pleased (with your blissful destination) and well-pleasing to your Lord
Enter among my righteous servants
And enter My paradise
I love these verses because to me, they were a song of existence and of purpose. They told me to live life in the best way that I can and to make the most of what I have before I have to go. But right now, even these verses don’t feel enough. I know things will feel better in time.
I’ve never really been good at knowing what to say to comfort others who have lost a loved one, but I have been eternally grateful for the people who have reached out with their condolences. It has made me appreciate that passing on condolences isn’t just about what is said, but reminding the person that you’re there for them.
I hope that my grandma is happy and at peace where she is, and that those of you who have lost a loved one have the patience and strength to process it.
إِنَّا لِلّهِ وَإِنَّـا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعُونَ