Saturday, January 16, 2016
Who died? As I was communicating with my nephew while he was all curled up in a fetal position on the hospital bed I realized that I was also talking to myself. I was addressing my own fears about death and dying and as i whispered into his ears about taking refuge in Allah, (He being a Muslim), I saw how powerful an effect it had on this frightened young man about to give up his last breath. I tried to impress upon him that there is nothing more to fear or be afraid of other than God at the moment and to surrender oneself with every desperate breath is the only thing one can do as there is not a thing in the physical realm that can save you especially when the doctors have pulled out the plug and given you up. This is the critical moment when the mind plays such an important role in letting you go or freeing you from all the ties you have been clinging on to in this life.
In the Tibetan tradition death is faced in its last hours by a priest or monk sitting with the person dying and relating to him how to go about facing death, like a step by step coaching. The Bardo Todol, or the 49 days of the Bardo state is when the patient is being prepared to face the moment of death and the entering into the afterlife. The stage by stage process of dying is whispered to the ears of the patient instructing him or her what to expect and and how to react to what is seen or heard or felt in them moments of death. This assistance helps the victim to remain calm and as lucid as possible so that he or she does not get lost in limbo out of fear and ignorance.
Most in Islam would sit around reading the verses from the Quran especially the Surah Yasin which is considered the heart of the Quran and it is hoped that this will help to keep the victim's mind focused upon his faith in Allah. I my experience I have rarely seen anyone talking to the dying in terms that they can understand, like do not fear anymore for all that you see and hear are just your own imaginations and mental states or that you are to remain in touch with who you are and your faith in God. The verses from the Quran may have its impact to sooth the soul of the departing but it does not touch upon the basic problem of how to not be swayed by fear and ignorance in facing the final moments of death. All one hears of the verses being read around you is just noises, meaningless because one does not understand what is being read in the first place.
Thus far, in less than a year I have had three of my nephews died for one reason or another and i was present at their funerals and except for the one died of an accident, i was by the bedside of two of them before they passed on. It has been an experience for me and perhaps at my age it is suppose to be so, that i get to be up close at moments of death as a witness. it is in this moments that i also come to realize how insignificant or how great life is to each and every individual. How important it is to live life as best you could and die with dignity or waste one's life away and die like an unwanted piece of rag cast away into the garbage can. As Mark Twain once quoted,"There are those when they depart from this life we breath a breath of regret and those who departs and we breath a breath relief".