I recently lost a parent and while my grieving and healing process has progressed at a steady pace, I have been wondering how differently I have dealt with my loss compared to my siblings who are practicing Muslims.
For starters, you don’t really come face to face with your own mortality until you lose a loved one. Losing a parent has made me come to terms with the finality of my own life and has helped me accept and expect the inevitable. We are alive for a mere cosmic moment in the grand scheme of things: life is undeniably and brutally short and the only meaning it has is what we can give it during our brief existence.
Grieving in Pakistan is made harder by the constant, well meaning reminders of those who care: “they are in a better place now” or “we will all be united one day.” These are very tempting propositions and as a grieving ex-Muslim, you desperately want them to be true, yet knowing full well that they are not: There simply isn’t enough evidence to believe that consciousness can survive death. And belief without evidence is wishful thinking.
On a positive note, I have found that my rationality has enabled me to provide better emotional support to my religious family in dealing with this great loss. Evidently – belief in the afterlife does not make it as easy to deal with the demise of a loved one as a realistic, rational secularism can; which is of course ironic given that the fear of death is one of the key contributors to religious belief.
Death is inevitable and final. Yet, we are immortal in the sense that we live on in the hearts and memories of the loved ones we leave behind. And when our loved ones are no more, they in turn are lovingly remembered by their children – and so on.
This is how death loses and life wins.