It was one of the most distressing emails I had read. A young man had lost his father. He was devastated. It seemed to him the most unfair thing to happen. I knew that any words of sympathy would sound hollow. Losing a loved one at any age is painful.
Manipal has the curse of losing at least two or three youngsters every quarter through suicides or accidents. Each time someone so young loses, there is a gut wrenching feeling. It is not fair for someone so young to die so soon.
My grandmother used to often say that it was easy for the person dying than those he or she was leaving behind. It took me years to understand the meaning.
Coming to this young man, I could understand his turmoil, having lost my father at an early age to cancer. There is a helpless feeling. Yesterday you were the most carefree person with not a single worry in the world. Today suddenly you feel like a dry leaf in a gale. You feel like you have suddenly aged.
Death is inevitable. Whoever is born has to die. How to cope with this tragedy.
We all must learn to value a relationship qualitatively and not quantitatively. Remember that the even God likes good people. The person who is lost must have been someone really special. There would be a thousand good memories about him or her. Preserve those memories.
Never think that you have lost him or her. Just believe that he is somewhere close and you can feel his benign presence.
Keep yourself engaged. See that you do not have any free time. After my father’s death, I was advised by a wise man to go and work in some busy place. I chose recruitment. It gave me very little time to think. We had to conduct interviews every weekend in a new place. One week it was Mumbai, the other week it was Chennai, then Bangalore or Hyderabad or Pune. The whole week we worked hard to gather the candidates for the interviews. Then the travel arrangements, the conference room booking etc. It gave me very little time to ponder. Also it changed the course of my life. Soon I was offered a position in the USA.
Faith too helps. It doesn’t matter what religion you belong to. It is immaterial whether you are an atheist or an agnostic. The important thing is to believe. Visit the temple or church or mosque if it gives you peace. Search out for other friends who have suffered such a tragedy. Self help groups help too. Trust in your friends. In Manipal, I have seen the remarkable support among the friends reflected in their outpourings and their deeds. It made me proud to see such maturity in someone so young. Share your grief.
Also there is no anodyne like time. It is the biggest healer. Allow time to apply its balm.
Finally remember that you owe it to the memory of your loved one to turn out to be a better person. Double your resolve. Work hard to succeed.
When you walk out into the night, look for the brightest star. You will see a twinkle. That is your father or your mother smiling. As I said in the beginning. They never left you. They were always close. You had to open the eyes in your heart to see them.