The Paradise of 'what-if'
We are somehow able to go back in time and make things OK, or at least, make some adjustments that would restore things the way they were before the tragedies began their march. At what point of time would we want to go? Would we prefer sometime before our loved one was rushed to the hospital? Or would we go further back when the illness was manageable or even treatable?
Would such a journey back in time help make things better? Would our loved one be with us today if we had tinkered a little bit with the past?
As we approach Christmas and are faced with the absence of our loved ones such questions acquire a certain urgency and at the same time reveal pain and helplessness at the same time.
Christmas is a time for family and loved ones to be together, and so why shouldn’t one wish for the company of those who passed away this year? Why should this kind of longing seem sad and ridiculous when at its core is a simple desire for normalcy? Isn't it normal to have our parents, grandparents, siblings, children, nephews and nieces and other close friends all around us during Christmas?
Obviously, our sane and rational side kicks in and dismisses all such desires as wishful thinking and unnecessary. How can someone who has passed away come back? And then there are those who are spiritual who would very quickly and easily dismiss these desires as equally unreasonable and borderline unspiritual. Doesn’t the Bible talk about the possibility of meeting our loved ones in heaven or that they are now in the company of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ? Shouldn’t you be happy for them or at least be patient?
For those who grieve no answer can completely satisfy or even address the void we feel within. We know the facts and we know the science and yes we know our scripture, too. However, it’s not the facts that comfort us since facts by their very nature are unable to offer any balm. They are just there like stones on the road What we long for is beyond facts. What we desire is to restore the intangible thread that connects us with our loved ones, and we hope that in doing so it would somehow bring them back and make everything normal as it should be.
The trouble is that we are immediately confronted with certain realities that we can't really avoid. For us to be really comfortable with this kind of wishful thinking we have to let go of that which somehow defines our species -- we are meant to be rational creatures and hence can't be given to such feverish imagination; we are meant to be social animals and thus cannot be occupied with thoughts of those who are not with us; and then, finally, we are meant to be spiritual beings and are expected to find comfort in knowing our loved ones are with God and we will be meeting them again when we pass on.
And yet, no matter how much we are able to rationalise and intellecutalise and spiritualise, we still grieve and ache and feel the void in ways that we cannot articulate. It is just a burden that feels so heavy and yet we hold on to it because we feel that doing so would make things better. We feel that it would somehow clarify things for us and make sense of that which seems too devastating for words.
The simplest thing to do is often the hardest and somehow it takes a while for us to realise that it is natural and normal for us to feel this way. We don't have to follow a particular format when it comes to mourning because it never works that way. We just need to give ourselves time to work out the complexities on our own and in our own way. Doing so will help us heal - or at least we hope it does - but if not, at least, it will allow us to bring to surface all that is lurking within.
In the meantime, as it's Christmas, we can take solace in the words of Him whose birth we celebrate this season - blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted.