Sunday, August 15, 2010

A Tribute to Death


I’ve never been quick at comprehending someone’s death. When I hear the news of someone dying, it is sad, but I rarely cry. When my grandmother died, I did cry a bit. Those few drops of tears at came at last when I saw her body being lowered into the earth, the place she would rest and her body will wither, consumed by the forces of nature.

I acknowledge death as a phase in the cycle of life. It’s both the end and the beginning. In scientific and biological terms, it’s completely normal and practical. Maybe this is why my mind chooses not to value it as such a big deal. But I do know, from the teachings in my religion, that death is the end of our brief time on earth to finally meet with our creator and enter the eternal world where heaven and hell exists. After we die, we enter a new consciousness in the realm of the afterlife.

I am actually really grateful for this fact. I can’t face the concept of a final end to everything, where someone’s nonexistence becomes adamant. I have faith that my body is indeed a temporary vessel that will, in the end, terminate. But this consciousness – this soul that I call me – is eternal.

Maybe that’s why I’m not very emotional about death. I admit it is sad, not being able to see someone anymore. But I really believe they do still exist. So while I’m in my dimension of time and space I believe my grandmother still exists somewhere, either as an invisible force in the same dimension living things exist , or in another concept we do not know of.

Islamic teachings do describe the afterlife concept as “alam kubur” (the realm of the grave) where we would be asked questions of what we did in life and suffer some of the consequences of those deeds  while we wait for “kiamat” (the end of the world). But the specific characteristics of this concept are still debated upon. Some believe that this place exists right there inside the graves, below the earth. Others believe that the place is not within the boundaries of earth, that it takes place in another dimension only Allah knows of.

I don’t really mind where “the place” is. What matters to me is that we still exist after death.


I do miss my grandmother. It’s been about three years since she died. I remember all the stories she used to tell me about her experiences when she was young. She used to have this pretty dress she really liked to wear. She had many friends. She was a strict but loving mother. She was smart and beautiful. She suffered many hardships. She still had to take care of so many problems at an old age. She battled with pride and honor and everyone who knew her admires her patience and strength until this day.

A couple of days ago, on the 1st of Ramadhan, my uncle passed away too. He suffered lymphoma, a cancer that cost him so much physical pain and loss for months. He had to give up his job and a lot of his wealth. He lost the chance to study again, abroad, with a prestigious scholarship. But I never got the chance to be by his side, even during his last moments. Life at campus was getting more and more hectic. I had to finish my final paper and also my exams. The board won’t give you a pass unless it’s for your parents or your guardians. I wanted to go home badly.

My uncle was a great person. He was quiet but had an aura of authority and great dignity. He had a high position at the bank where he worked so he could support his family well, adopting a child from a needy family in the process. He was generous and charitable. He had a great wife, my aunt, who he loved dearly. My family loved to go to their house. There was a big pond where you could fish while enjoying the beautiful garden behind the house. There, we would have barbecues and my aunt and my mom fixed delicious traditional food to go with the fresh fish. Sometimes I went there with my buddies. We were always greeted warmly and we had a great time. I used to sit by the pond, just looking at the pretty colors of the fish while listening to the flow of the water. It was so peaceful. But I heard from my mom that the house might have to be sold because of the medical expenses for his various treatments.

I rarely talked to him. But when he spoke to me, it was always with interest in how I was doing. He asked me how school was, mostly. I used to think that he spoke so little to me because he didn’t really like me. I asked mom about it once. She told me I was wrong. She told me my uncle did like me. I was one of his most prided nieces. He just didn’t talk that much. I wanted to believe her. He was the type of person you really wanted to impress.

I wished I had the chance to see him. I wanted to be a good niece and help him through those hard moments. I wanted show care and at least repay his kindness. But he’s gone now.

I know that my whole family is really sad that he passed away. He was still young for a father and he had a promising career with so many opportunities. But Allah has plans for all of us. Death is but a fate, a matter of time that cannot be shifted from its course.

But I still have not cried.

Sometimes I think, am I really so heartless? I cry over many other things, but why not this? Isn’t the loss big enough? Maybe I have to go home and visit his grave so I can cry.

But I know for sure that he still exists, somewhere. I pray for him everyday, wishing that Allah gives him a wonderful place by His side. I hope he knows his family and friends are thinking of him and praying for him too.


I read, in Dan Brown’s “The Lost Symbol” that there is a special branch of knowledge called “Noetic Science” that studies human thoughts. There’s a proven theory that thoughts have mass and therefore can produce power or force. If focused and concentrated enough, thoughts can have immense power to affect the world around us. I think prayers are concentrated forms of thoughts. Because it has mass, it can move and maybe others somewhere far away might hear them. Maybe he can hear them.


Or maybe my uncle, or my grandmother and anyone who’s passed away aren’t that far away at all.

Isn’t death just a step away from us?  

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