India has witnessed deaths of two much loved and eminent celebrities in the last two days – Irrfan Khan, on April 29th, 2020 and Rishi Kapoor on April 30th.
And it is affecting people emotionally – normal, celebrities, influencers all alike.
In these days of Covid19, when all are locked down with nowhere to go, nothing to do, no one to meet – screens take precedence – work laptops, mobile, tablets, TVs et al. Even minor news items are hard to ignore and become hot topics for discussion to fulfil our innate need to socialise, express ourselves and converse with other human beings. Our screens are filled with news items as well as personal sentiments about current situations – such shocking deaths are all, one talks about, reads and hears about. So there is no escaping getting affected by these deaths.
There was a very interesting HBR article that I read on anticipated grief recently – you can read it here (https://hbr.org/2020/03/that-discomfort-youre-feeling-is-grief). The storm of emotions inside us all these days, combined with focused news about death and permanent loss of larger than life figures brings about a heightened sense of grief. Simply put, we see the news of them dying, we go to social media to express that sadness or shock on our FB,twitter,insta which is already filled with our people expressing their distress. So there is no escape or outlet in real from the starkness of the reality of these deaths and what it does to our already subconsciously fearful minds. It reminds us of our own impermanence, our own imminent ends and those of our loved ones. 🙂
The biggest mystery, that what happens to us after death, keeps us uncomfortable about facing news and trivia of death all our lives. Death is equal parts mysterious, scary and fascinating. The fear of letting go of all that we have collected, earned, loved all our lives with that one moment taking it all away, keeps us scared. The fear of death and afterlife is what world’s religions and principles of morality are based on. What our belief systems are based on. Our whole life is a series of pre arranged activities meant to survive and avoid death -in humans, these activities have become such refined rituals, that we don’t see their morbidity unabashed on a day to day basis. Death and dying in our carefully constructed society have rituals build around them in a way, that it helps us forget and move on quickly and look forward to next day – get absorbed in the daily. This is done so we remain sane and emotionally healthy – but with that our priorities get diluted as well and we become absorbed in non important things of life.
Now, none of us reading this will escape death. Death is the biggest truth of all our lives- the only one certainly that we were born with – that WE. WILL. DIE. someday..
With this perspective in mind, either we can learn or continue letting ourselves feel unsettled. Keep feeling shocked over why did they both die, die so young – without facing the truth that we will die too and so will those around us – no one knows when, but we all will. So knowing this – what would you do next – grieve, avoid or learn? Here are few questions to you in light of these recent deaths, that I suggest you ask yourselves and literally write the answers somewhere:
- Knowing that death is imminent and literally any moment away, how will you prioritise your life in large and small moments, thus?
- Will you still want to keep blaming others for your unhappiness, or take the mantle of creating happiness on your own?
- What regrets do you not want to die with? What unsaid words do you want to say – apologies, confessions, rants, complaints and get over with them?
- Who do you want to forgive, ask forgiveness from, tell them you love them and that they are important to you?
- Are you wishing your life away everyday by dragging yourself through work, life and responsibilities – living from weekend to weekend, wasting a huge chunk of your life in weekdays or choosing and accepting what you do and embracing it?
- Are you living by others’ rulebook for their validation or approval or making courageous decisions and standing by them?
- How would you like to remembered? Are you working towards it?
- Are you prioritising a bully boss, a fake friend, a criticising relative, a narcissistic partner or anyone who generally doesnt care whether you live or die so much that you’ve forgotten that it doesnt matter to them if you die tomorrow? That you are the easiest replacement in their life?
- Are you working on what you truly want, your bucket list?
- Does everyone that you love, know enough that you love them?
- Are you being a good person, a kind soul and leaving the world a better place than you found it? Or are you behaving in a way that people will be relived to see you dead?
- Are you enjoying each moment, being grateful for all that you’ve been blessed with and cutting your losses every day?
- In summary, are you living life in a way that truly matters to you, or living by someone else’s standards?
Life is too short for regrets. There is a lot to enjoy and be grateful for. There is a lot to endure too. If today you feel a little uncomfortable and freaked out and morbid about these deaths, don’t let that feeling overpower you. But also don’t let that feeling die. Or try to bury it at the back of your head. A constant realisation of our mortality, of the non-permanence of it all keeps priorities in check. Keeps us honest about what is truly important and motivates us to stay authentic.
Life is going to end one day. For you. And for me. And maybe it is a good thing. Because it is only when we step into the unknown, that new beginnings take shape…