You know, life itself is much like the act of breathing. We don’t need to think of death (let alone writing about it) emotionally till it is in one’s face. I suddenly lost my wonderful Dad last month. As his adult child, while I celebrated his life, I began to think of life’s vulnerability and a finite end, much like the adage “No one lives forever.” Except, it hit me that it is true. Much like how we are taught to write an essay, an expected life span has a beginning and a middle paragraph with milestones and achievements. But sudden loss of life leaves with no last paragraph…life feels incomplete as there is always one more thing to do such as a grand kid’s wedding (if you die in old age), a trip to a special place, or a book to write when life might be potentially considered complete. The last paragraph is an opportunity to wrap up your essay in a neat package and drive it home for your reader. In most circumstances, I think the last paragraph of life is often unwritten as no one knows in advance when exactly would life stop in our prescribed life span.
Swami Vivekananda, the great Indian Philosopher once said to think of death everyday to be grounded or perhaps to realize that we exist to fearlessly serve, be unselfish, and not think that we are indispensable to the world. By the way, talking of indispensable role at work, I read somewhere that it is like putting a finger and removing from water to see if there is a hole. While it sounds like a painful rub in the face to think of one’s own finite life, may be we can translate this into reconciling each day to live life in fulfillment- to live with loving kindness, and doing something good, credible and incredible each day. May be that would amount to a realized and full life. Just to be clear, I am not talking of launching rockets, discovering magic carpets (although that would be great) or planning endless parties. I am expecting struggles. Expecting freedom. Let us say, a normal life, using time towards a purpose, is truly good. I often tell my patients who are perfectionists to ‘dare to be average.’ If it ends-up extraordinary, vice versa or a mix, that is only a by-product I suppose.
As I got solution focused in the midst of grief (emotions aside), two things came to mind. Internalizing the noble qualities of your loved ones and taking care of the remaining family members and move on with attached detachment. I also thought may be tell everyone including myself to “hurry up and live.” But again, not hurrying up, and feeling comfortable with the life’s story at any point of the narrative might be just good enough.