Can we ever be ready?

Whatever best one prepares in advance, when the time comes, can we be prepared for the emotional turmoil?

Photo by Tengyart on Unsplash

Let me start this story from an episode which flooded me with emotions — happy ones and the sad ones too. It was June the 4th twenty zero four. After a wait for 12 years, we had our first child, or should I call her an angel, or God’s gift. We were beyond thrilled. I am sure I don’t need to be more specific writing about the tsunami of emotions that every parent goes through at this moment. The tenderness, the sweet pain, the sudden awareness that a new phase of life has just set in — all together made thoughts swirl like a whirlpool in the deep. Once the tsunami calmed down and realisation set in, lot of plans were initiated. But the underlying thought was — she will leave us in 18 years. The cardinal fact that she will grow up and separate from us for further studies, etc. had slowly started piercing the heart.

Right from 2004 till 2022, the thought of daughter leaving us was always there with the intensity of sadness and sorrow increasing constantly. 6 months more to go…3 months to go…1 month…1 day…gone! We settled her in one of the best universities and ensured that her initial setup and sailing was smooth. But our heart was broken. Whatever level of preparedness we had, all went for a toss. Tears were flowing like crazy, heart aching like as if a bulldozer was pressing it down, and a constant thought kept nagging that when we knew this was going to happen one day, why couldn’t we keep ourselves strong? Why do we have to go through this misery even when we were (supposed to be) prepared for this day? Can’t we have a stronger brain which tells the heart to become strong and handle itself well and also not let the tear glands create the tears draining into the tear ducts?

11 years before my dear papa left us for the heavenly abode, we came to know that he has cancer. Slowly this cancer led to initiation of a second cancer. Health was constantly deteriorating and we could see the end coming. One day, he breathed his last and it felt as if he took away our breaths too. We wanted him not to suffer. He was a very generous and a giving guy. A self made man, he had dedicated his life for others. Can’t say that we wanted him to go, but surely we did not want him to suffer, as all Drs’ had given up hope. So, even when we knew the end is nearing why couldn’t we bear the loss?

Is there a way we can handle ourselves in a way that we do not get so affected and can prepare ourselves for the inevitable? Yes we can. Here’s how!

  1. Do not procrastinate: Things that need to be done today is already late, so do not delay it any further. If you want to say something to somebody, say it. If you love somebody or appreciate his/ her certain nature or actions, etc., say it out. Do not delay it…you may never get that opportunity. Let me tell you a real story. One of my friend’s mom was visiting him in Canada. She had come from India. During her stay with her son, her birthday came and the son wished her through some chat and send her an e-card. The mom spoke to him and requested him to give her a hand-written note wishing her a happy birthday. The son argued that he had already wished her with some beautiful e-card with so many sentimental things written therein but the mom was insistent. My friend agreed but kept delaying writing that note. In the next few days, unfortunately, the mom passed away. He was not able to fulfil her small last wish. Till date my friend hasn’t been able to forgive himself for his procrastination.
  2. Accept mortality: We keep thinking that bad things or even death can happen to others. We feel that the possibility is more towards the elderly, the sick, and “other’s” uncles and aunts and parents. If we accept our mortality and understand the fact that anything can happen to us or anybody without any warning, we will never wait for another moment to do anything for anybody. If you want to do it, do it now. Because now is already late.
  3. Be fearful of after-thoughts: I am very very fearful of this. I am scared of thoughts like “I wish I had done this”, “I wish I could have said this”, or “I wish things could have been handled differently”…etc. A lot of time before my dad passed away or my daughter left us for further studies, I had decided to spend as much time as possible with them. I had cancelled friend’s parties, postponed travel plans, and try to be home with them. I fear the after-thought that I wish I could have spent some more time with them, or could have done certain things with them. I have heard of so many stories where people feel they could have done more or if they had been available more, they could have thought of some alternate arrangement , etc.
  4. Live for the moment: When you are with the loved ones, enjoy your moments thoroughly. One of the biggest deterrent are our smart phones. We are so busy looking at the damn screen that we fail to be around and pay attention to our loved ones. A message tone has become more important that the sweet talks of our loved ones. Let us live in the moment, and be involved with the people for whom we care. We should feel satisfied from within that I have lived my moment, utilised every opportunity to be with them and done whatever I could to the best of my ability. The thought that ‘I could not have done more than this’ is so important and relieving.
  5. Do your research: For personal as well as professional avenues, it’s always good to be armed with proper artillery. Research, a proper plan of action, introspection, visualising the situation, etc. help a lot in being prepared to face the situation that we are worried about. Remember always that worrying about anything is not going to solve or reduce issues, in fact, most of the time, worrying will just make you tensed and the wrong set of hormones will kick in to damage your logical thought process. Knowing more about your opposition and preparing your strategies accordingly is better that the (over)confidence that “I will be able to handle the situation as and when it comes”.

I am not saying that by doing the above we can get prepared absolutely and face or handle the inevitable. But by doing these we can surely reduce the pain, the remorse, and lessen the guilt — and that would ease our misery and sorrow when we are faced with that dreaded event or moment.

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