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If You Have To Give Someone News Of A Death, Be Mindful Not To Spring It On Them…

Posted: April 22, 2021

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Death has become a reality for so many of our loved ones in current times – but let us be mindful of how we convey this news to someone, be careful not to spring it on them.

Ok, this is something important that I wanted to say. There is a certain way to move around death, especially in these times when people are passing away so suddenly and our hearts are crumbling.

Respect for the dead doesn’t mean we forget the living. I got news that a former classmate from school has passed away due to Covid on Sunday. But the way I received this news from another friend was distressing for me.

It is triggering news

I received a Whatsapp message at 4 am IST, that was so straight to the point that it pierced my heart like an arrow. You are half-awake, half-asleep, not yet fully in control of your senses at such early hour even if you wake up for water etc…

I switch on my internet in the middle of the night if I wake up for water or to go to the washroom sometimes just like that. Actually, I switch on my phone torch for light. If I switch on the LED bulb, I can say goodbye to sleep, so I switch on the torch, and since the internet button is near it, it also gets switched on.

Please give a little cushioning while conveying such news

First of all unless it’s your immediate family or extreme emergency, please convey such news between 9 am to 9 pm, at least to sensitive and empathetic people like us.

Maybe you could begin with something like: Hi. How are you doing. These are such uncertain times, I hope all of us can see through this together. I wanted to tell you about someone who couldn’t make it to safety though. She is a former classmate of ours. Her name is x…

I was similarly traumatised by the sudden way I got news of Sushant last year

A friend had done the same with me when Sushant passed away.

I had just woken up from an afternoon nap when she started calling. On receiving the call, she just came straight to the point: Sushant mar gaya.

There are better ways of putting it. She was telling me because she knew I cared about Sushant. I had posted about him just a few days before he passed away.

Establishing the ‘bhoomika’ or prologue is necessary before sharing such news, or as I call it cushioning. Don’t share such news so bluntly. This friend’s passing away pierced my heart just as much because it was so suddenly conveyed. No offence to the friend who conveyed it; of course she meant well and I know she loves people deeply. Just that sometimes love needs to be strategically expressed.

I am reminded of a song; and it’s time to stop existing and start living

There are people dying
If you care enough for the living
Make a better place for you and for me
If you want to know why
There’s love that cannot lie
Love is strong
It only cares of joyful giving
If we try we shall see
In this bliss we cannot feel
Fear of dread, we stop existing and start living.

Time to stop existing and start living. I feel deeply and I have learnt that we need depth in feeling more than length of time. Tomorrow I will not stop feeling for the friend, but I will accept and not fight her passing away, but today I will mourn her deeply. I am aware that I myself am sharing this at 8 am, but I think it needed to be said: the dead are sacred, but so are the living.

Let’s celebrate those of us who are alive. And remember Swasthya = swa (self)+ aastha (belief). Self- belief or self- love is the best medicine.

Image source: Still from Short Film How Are You/Pocket Films, YouTube

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