On the very second day of the New Year 2022, dynamic 18-year-old, Ruksheen Adil Madon, passed away in a road accident on the Manali- Chandigarh highway. She was on an excursion with ninety others. One of the buses fell in a ditch and Ruksheen got off her bus to rush and help. A speeding bus from the opposite direction hit her, causing a fatal head injury, killing her instantly. No farewell words were spoken. There was no time to say goodbye. She was gone before we knew it and only the divine knows why. Of the ninety others, she was the only casualty. It was tragic and heart-wrenching for the loving parents of this innocent, compassionate and beautiful teenager.
Why, God, Why? When calamity comes, we often tend to ask: ‘Why me?’ ‘Why my innocent family?’ The truth is, life will not unfold the way we want it to. It is the nature of life to be kind sometimes and cruel sometimes. It’s how we cope with life that ultimately makes the difference. The ancient saying, “Everything that has a beginning has an ending. Make your peace with that and all will be well,” comes to mind.
The last two years have claimed innumerable lives due to the pandemic. Many more have died due to other diseases or old age or unfortunate circumstances. Death spares none, be they rich or poor, young or old. For centuries, humans have asked the question, ‘Why, God, why?’, when disaster strikes. And for centuries, religion and theologists have tried answering the question – how could a loving and merciful God allow His children to endure such suffering. Honestly, there’s no rational answer to why tragedy befalls good or innocent. Some things remain unknown. Rationalizing with theories of karma or Divinity testing us, provide little consolation. Acceptance and moving on, is the only way forward.
Gratitude Conquers Grief: How does one prepare for death, especially unexpected or the untimely death of a loved one? There’s no answers. Except, maybe for the fact that death is the only certainty of life. As Kahlil Gibran states, “The optimist sees the rose and not its thorns; the pessimist stares at the thorns, oblivious to the rose.”
Although it’s very difficult today to see beyond our sorrow, looking back in time at happy memories, may help comfort us tomorrow. Indeed, let’s miss those we loved and lost, but let’s also be grateful for having them touch our lives so deeply, and the opportunity we were given to love them. Ultimately, gratitude for what we had, no matter for how long, will help conquer the grief of loss.
Noted American novelist Anne Lamott rightly says, “You will lose someone you can’t live without, and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved. But this is also the good news. They live forever in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up. And you come through. It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly – that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp.”
Is Sunset A Disaster? In an interview with Forbes Magazine in August 2016, Anu Aga of Thermax Ltd., aptly said, “The sun rises and it sets. Similarly, all of us have to vacate this earth and if we don’t, can you imagine the chaos? So, we cannot shy away from death.” The important lesson that Anu learned on first losing her husband and soon after, her 25-year-old son, was to stop asking why it happened and, instead, start acknowledging Divinity’s design of things, which can be inexplicable.
In life, we can choose to complain about the thorns or be grateful for the roses. Indeed, there are no roses without thorns; there is no life without pain. Joy and pain are both part of life. When someone, who brings us great joy is abruptly snatched away, we feel intense pain. That’s only normal. But we need to ask ourselves whether we would have preferred not having that person who brought so much joy in our life, just to escape this pain, on losing that person. The risk of love is loss; and the price of loss is grief. However, the pain of grief is only a shadow when compared with the pain of never risking love!
Zoroastrian Belief: We believe that every human being finds happiness or sorrow, according to his/her moral and ethical choices. From a Zoroastrian perspective, death is just a sunset. What sets in one part of the world, rises in another. Therefore, those who are grieving, in time, need to remove the focus from questions related to the pain of the past (Why did this happen to me?); and instead ask questions that open the door to the future. (Now that this has happened, what can I do to move on?).
To all who have been recently bereaved and feel bereft and distraught, we pray for their healing and we remind them that we do not necessarily have to rely on memories to recapture the spirit of those we have loved and lost. They live within our souls, in a sanctuary which even death cannot destroy. Please accept ‘finite disappointment’, but never lose ‘infinite hope’!
A Tribute To Ruksheen
We only have a picture now,
A frozen frame in time;
Reminding us of how it was
When you were here with us.
Each morning when we wake,
Our heart begins to ache.
In the frozen frame of time,
We see your smiling face.
Why were you taken away?
We ask that each day;
We know there is no answer,
All we can do is remember!
They say time will heal the pain,
But we guess it will always remain;
Although no more with us,
You will always live in our heart.
The balm for our suffering
Lies not in avoiding pain,
But in our ability to meet it
We can shed tears that you are gone,
Or we can smile because you have lived.
We can dream that you will come back,
Or we can cherish all that you have left behind.
Our eyes will be empty
Because we can’t see you,
But our hearts will be full
Of all the love that you have shared!