An essay on death by living.
Originally published by Sandbox on Medium.
Nothing really prepares you for them. Even as you see them from afar. The terminal infliction points that we experience in our lifetimes. It is in moments like these we get to reflect, ponder and let some patterns emerge. Even if they are only imagined.
Religion has given us many things and before you close the tab and celebrate scientific research and modern achievements by going to the Moon and cloning a sheep; hear me out. This is not an article on religion. It is about faith. Faith in each other.
Religion has given us many things. With it’s rituals and ceremonies, traditions and customs — at the core — religion gave us community. It is equally fair to argue that community gave us religion. It does not matter. They are linked.
What matters is what we do with it — what we use it for. The burden of religion; the gift of faith in each other.
It is perhaps not so odd that our connected, fast-paced and transient communities can find solace and inspiration in inferring eons of said faith and religions, onto a few generations of life, applying it to fit our new ways of being.
Casper te Kuile, a brilliant scholar and a man of God spread the idea of tech sabbath (and later became the priest that found divinity in Harry Potter). Alexa Clay has been leading experimentation in congregations and tribes in entirely new contexts. Chris Chavez is reinventing a convent and monastic order of nuns, while creating a new set of ethics for new economies, based on ancient principles. Scott Adams (yes that Scott Adams) defined God in perhaps the most profound way I till date have heard — after years of creating satire of corporate life. Tia Kansara is on a mission to replenish — not sustain — our world, planet and lives, perhaps the greatest challenge bestowed upon humankind, across all divinities.
We find ways of keeping our religions — our faiths in each other — through our lives.
In Jewish life, as a loved one passes away, the following week is known as “sitting shivah”. Literally meaning “sitting seven (days)”. It is a week, spent by the immediate family, together at home. And while the loved ones find strength in each other, the community at large look after and care for them. Traditionally people bring food, comfort and love.
But it is not necessarily — or rather, not exclusively — a week in sorrow or grief.
It is a week of of crying together. A week of laughing together. A week of reminiscing together. Remembering together. A week of storytelling and memories, of articulating, sharing and understanding emotions.
It is a week of dying a thousand deaths and living a thousand rebirths. It is a week of healing; as a family, and through that, as individuals. A reminder of our our humanity: Life can hurt, and this too shall pass.
But as we say our own goodbyes, to whomever left us, we bid our farewells to the faith we shared between the two of us. And it is in the community we find the faith to replace what we lost.
The family in sorrow is never left alone. Never lonely. It is remarkable, in the sense, that fending off the threat of depression and emotional trauma, solitude and isolation, was institutionalized, as a custom, millennia ago.
All of this is to ask the question: In a time where the plethora of emotional relationships cease and erupt, suddenly and gradually, why are we not seeking healing through the very same faith?
My girlfriend, my Jessica Rose Lady, of almost three years, and I recently decided to break apart. It was a long time coming. But nothing prepares you for them. The terminal infliction points we experience in our lifetimes.
Much like a cancer can kill a relative, so can a relationship die over time. You can find comfort in telling yourself that “it’s for the better”, much like we tell each other that our loved ones are “in a better place now” or “finally found peace”.
The catharsis of retelling your favorite stories of the person you love (or maybe once loved), sharing how your worst fears might have been realized, looking through pictures, notes and memories, is invaluable when a strong bond between people have been severed. When the faith have been lost.
It is in times like those, more so than any other, where the importance of connecting with yourself, and with your loved ones, becomes real.
Religion has given us the gift of faith-by-default. In times when rediscovering your faith in people seems futile, religion grants the healing and comfort without the need to ask for it.
And why should we think, losing our loved ones to life be any easier than losing them to death?
So I ask this of you: When your friend, relative or loved one is experiencing a loss, but not a loss to Death — a loss to Life — whether it is through a breakup or divorce, get the immediate circle of friends and family together for them.
Equally, for communities that exist today, whether you are explicitly called so or not, know that you have played a role in history, and should seek to maintain that role.
Remind the grieving souls their faith is not lost, not in the person they miss, not in themselves — not in anyone else; it is merely transferred for the time being. Life hurts. And this too shall pass.
Laugh, cry, smile, eat, tell, drink. Be.
But be together.Categorised in: Musings