Mohammad Ali the great boxer passed away last month.
He was a thoughtful man, a man of great strength and courage, both physical and moral; a man who spoke the truth as he saw it, till the end, and we mourn him. For many of us he was an iconic figure, a part of our lives for many years. We rejoiced in his successes, enjoyed his pithy sayings, were saddened by his illnesses and grieved at his death. For many of us, it was almost like we had lost someone close to us.
The death of someone we love or care for is always a shock. We forget that death is as much a part of our lives as life itself, along with birth, sickness, happiness, love, money or success.
So when a loved one dies, we are never prepared for the shock, the grief or the sheer pain that comes with such an intensely personal loss.
We take happiness for granted, as an entitlement. We feel aggrieved if we are not happy, and search for ways to remedy our situation. We change our lives, our partners, our friends, even our locations, and hope that these changes will bring us the joy we seek.
But success, happiness and other forms of pleasure, are a combination of both luck and our own efforts and most importantly, are largely within our control, while fate and death are unforeseeable, random and beyond our control or comprehension.
Some folk live till their late nineties in the best of health, and others die in their twenties for no good reason. Some die in tragic accidents, while others lead normal, healthy, happy lives till some quirk of fate strikes them down.
Apart from the shock and grief of loss the question is "why"? or " how did this happen to us"? To this eternal question, there are no answers. No matter how great the loss, we must resign ourselves, and get on with our lives. The pain eventually fades, as people say, to a dull but constant ache, something to be borne as yet another of the burdens of the imperfect life of this world.
With the passage of time because we are human and resilient, we recover our loved ones in a different form, because they live on, in our memories. It is a comfort for us in spite of our loss because we forget the sad bits and remember only the good things from the past.
When we recall a loved one, the memories that come to mind are the joyful ones. Days of sunshine, the sound of voices and laughter, happiness of shared events with family and friends, and moments alone of quiet contentment.
In the end, death, like birth, is only a transition. According to our beliefs, we should not grieve too much, because our loved ones have gone to a better place, a place where we will join them one day. A beautiful garden where rivers run beneath, where we will be united with those we have lost, and live in eternal peace and happiness.