I remember the first time I ever wrote about death on this blog – I vaguely recall something about its sobering effects on the soul and its ability to bring life into sharp focus. It’s a bit different this time round. Experiencing the loss of loved ones over the past few years have taught me an important thing that nobody ever really says in so many words – time doesn’t actually heal, it simply teaches you how to be less apparent about your pain and say all the right things so it appears as though you have healed. But, I digress (as usual).
During the course of the last 48 hours, I have received news of the passing of three different people and it hit me like a tonne of bricks. (Please take this moment to make small prayer for them all – may they be remembered for the goodness they brought into the lives of others and may their light continue to live on in the people who love them. May their time on this earth have been fruitful, and may they be of His beloveds on the Day of Recompense.) Over the years I’ve found that I cope with death pretty well – and I know, I know what a ridiculous thing that is to say because who learns to cope with death without dying themselves, you know? But, hear me out. The first few deaths of loved ones crush you. They take everything you think you know about life and stamp on it with steel-toed boots. The next few, it hurts a little less but the pain is still there. It still threatens to suffocate you a little, but it doesn’t quite render you incapable of living like the first time round. Eventually, you get to a point where it hurts, and you feel the weight of these losses weigh down heavily upon your heart, but there’s a shift in perspective. You realise that if you could be wishing that you could stop experiencing pain to this degree, then what does that say for those who have passed? Perhaps it is better that they are no longer subject to the hardships of this life and the constant trials and tribulations that come hand in hand with existing. Perhaps it is better for them to feel nothing at all.
But, I know that not everyone reaches this perspective so soon, and until you do, it is incredibly hard on the soul. I know that we cannot save anyone from the experiences of pain because it really is what builds our characters to be who we are/will be – but, the teacher in me cannot accept this as a final stance to take. Phone calls and text messages informed me of these deaths during my teaching hours, and though I felt myself go entirely still, I knew that there was hikmah (wisdom) even in this timing and I needed to use it wisely. One of the perks of teaching in a Islamic school is that beliefs across the school are aligned and it is therefore acceptable to adjust lessons on the basis of spiritual needs, and let’s be real, I needed this moment as much as my kids. And so, as a teacher, I had to take a moment and really think. How could I make these emotions and experiences a learning curve for my children? How could I teach these young little nuggets about death without entirely scarring them for life? Because the truth is, they do know about death. They know far more about death than we think, but the question remains, is this knowledge based in fear or is it simply knowledge?
In my heart of hearts I knew that in this moment, the greatest guidance can only come from Allah, and the best way to access this guidance is through His words in the Qur’an. And so, that is exactly what we did. We huddled up on the carpet, and we recited. We recited, we reflected, and we made a du’a for all the people we have loved throughout the course of our lives, as well as all those whom have passed. And then I broached the topic. We spoke about death in a way that allowed the kids to understand it as a return to our real home and the end of the testing period, as opposed to the end of life itself or a step into the unknown that is oblivion. We opened up the place for them to bring their feelings forward and process them without the fear of judgement or the expectation to have mastery over their emotions. And it was in that moment that I looked around the room and realised that this is why I do what I do. I have always wanted to be for others what I myself needed as a child, and in this space, that is exactly what I can do. I can be, for my children, exactly who I once needed. I can take these massive adult experiences and make them digestible for them so they can have a far greater level of emotional intelligence than I ever did. Most importantly though, I realised in that moment that these kids of mine are teaching me as much as I teach them daily, and I am entirely grateful.
I have noticed that my most recent posts have started to get entirely personal and use actual snippets of my life rather than generalised or sweeping statements, but I guess I’m at that point in my life where I am too tired to be seeking inspiration from anywhere but within my own self, the things in my immediate vicinity, and my Lord. But, I’ve been enjoying this. I’m enjoying stripping back a layer from time to time to let you in to my pandora’s box equivalent of a mind. I pray that you are able to take away something from this and that while reading this, you are able to take out a moment to remember me in your prayers or your good thoughts.
May Allah allow us to lead fulfilling lives for His sake, and may He provide us all with the means to enter the Gardens of Paradise. May He bring peace to the hearts of all those whom are suffering or grieving, and may He continue to guide us upon His path with a beautiful patience for all that is to be endured. Ameen.