“The highest tribute to the dead is not grief, but gratitude” – Thornton Wilder.
Experiencing the death of loved ones is never easy, no matter how prepared we are for it, it is a very difficult and scarring experience. Depending on our mental state, it will give us long-lasting trauma throughout our life. However, we still need to accept that death is inevitable and no matter how special we think of our loved ones, they still can’t escape death. In this article, I want to share with you how I faced my grief.
My Relationship with My Late Father
So, how do we deal with grief? Well, there are a lot of coping mechanisms out there that you can choose, just make sure it’s healthy, not the opposite. Now, I’ll tell you how I cope with my Dad’s death – through religion. Before you say anything, this article is not about me preaching about religion nor to invalidate your sadness by asking you to seek God. But, it is to share my experience of how I survived the darkest time of my life and hopefully it will benefit you.
Before we get to the tear-jerking part of this story, let’s talk about my relationship with my Dad.
I have a huge age gap with my Dad – 44 years. So, when I was born, he was almost already in his middle-age era. Nonetheless, we still had a close relationship together and he was there when I reached all of my milestones until I was 21 years old at least.
I definitely got my sense of humour from him because even up until today I love Dad types of jokes. I still remember the first pun joke I told him:
“Why did the rock melon jump into the water? Because it wants to be a watermelon!”
*ba dum tss*
He laughed and was surprised I could come up with the joke at 5 years old. Well, I actually got it from a TV show but still, he was so impressed that a 5-year-old girl could make that joke.
It All Started In 2018
Then, somewhere around 2018, his health started to deteriorate and lost weight. At first, everyone in our family just thought it was normal because he was getting older. But, he was known as the biggest eater in our family and when he was losing his appetite, it made us worry. His behaviour had also changed, he became grumpier and always confrontational when talking to us. It was really hard for us during that time and it created a distance between him and me especially.
When the year 2020 arrived, I was in the second semester of my Bachelor’s degree and was enjoying my university life with my new friends. However, things started to go downhill after COVID-19 appeared. I completely lost my usual routines – going to classes together with my friends, after-class hangouts at IOI City Mall and doing assignments together with them. We all had to go back to our homes due to the government’s MCO as a measure to decrease the infection rate of the deadly virus.
The silver lining of this is I became reconnected with my family. I was lucky because everyone in my family has a good relationship with each other and also, and I became closer again to my Dad. But, not all good things are meant to last forever and my Dad’s health got worse.
One day in March, my sister decided to bring him to the hospital to get a proper check-up. My Dad had to go to meet the doctor on her own as per the MCO rules during that time. Out of the blue, he was ordered to be admitted to the hospital because they suspected him of having the COVID-19. Also, he was placed in a quarantine ward because during that time, it took 2-3 days to test for the virus.
Luckily, his ward was at the ground level so my family secretly went to visit him by talking to him from his ward’s window. We had the chance to send him food, health supplements and medicines during his time there. But, I did not go because I have a weak immune system and the COVID-19 cases were high during that time so my family advised me to stay at home – which I regret the most.
His Last Day And Everything Happened Too Fast
On his third day and… last day at the hospital, his health got worse and he refused to eat and even drink. I still remember how my sister told me my Dad looked like he already gave up to fight his sickness. His COVID-19 test result was not out yet during that time. Fortunately, our cousin worked as a nurse, so, that night she told us that my Dad was tested negative for the virus and we could bring him home.
When my mother and I were packing his stuff because we wanted to transfer him to another hospital, my sister suddenly called and told me to be strong and patient. I didn’t know what she meant by that and her repeating the same words did not help. So, I drove my Mom and myself to see my Dad.
When we arrived at his ward, we saw him lying static in his bed. We just assumed he was just sleeping, but then the doctor arrived and told us the news – my Dad has passed away.
I stood there frozen listening to the doctor. My Mom ran out of the ward and bawled her eyes out. I had never ever seen my mom cry like that in my whole life, but it made sense because she just lost the love of her life. I was still in shock and then I texted and called my friends to tell them about the news. I’m very thankful that my friends acted as one of my biggest supporters during that time.
I still remember that night, it was somewhere around 1 in the morning and everything felt so unreal. I couldn’t believe my Dad just passed away. It didn’t make sense to me. Why did he have to go? I still haven’t completed my degree at that time, so does this mean he won’t come to my graduation? He was supposed to be there to watch me complete all my milestones. But, he’s not here anymore.
It feels like I have lost my purpose in life.
The first week was challenging for everyone in my family, and also his friends. My Dad was a good person and everyone knows that. So, everyone who knows his name grieved over his passing, even his customers.
How I Cope With The Grief
My aunt, his younger sister, suggested we complete 10,000 zikir to ease his journey in the afterlife.
To be frank with you, I’m not the most pious person in my family but after knowing this, I contributed a few thousand to complete our quota to help my Dad in his journey. I have also started to pray more diligently, completing all 5 salah times a day. This is because I will take a long time to pray for him after I’ve finished my salah and to me, these ibadah activities are like a form of communication between my Dad and me. It felt comforting, knowing that what I’m doing can help him on the other side.
Up until today, I still prayed for him after I finished my prayer but I have stopped reciting zikir for him. I continue to do the basic pillars of Islam and whenever I do a good deed (donating, helping others in need, reciting the Al-Quran), I will share my pahala with him so it can lessen his punishment of the grave.
Furthermore, I have completely accepted his absence in my family’s house and I still miss him now and then. But, knowing that he’s not in pain anymore made me feel at peace. I will be graduating with my degree this year and even though he’s not here, deep inside my heart, I know he’s proud of me.
Thank you for reading my story and if you are currently dealing with the loss of your loved ones, I hope I can help to ease your pain. Just remember, even though Death took them, he cannot take the love we have for them.