Grief is a state of loss. An emotional upheaval that one feels beit over a divorce, loss of job, death of a loved one. It manifests in 7 stages, some experts argued 5- but it all depends on our equilibrium, our attachment to that party, the circumstances that brought about the loss, and the severity inflicted by the tragedy. The various stages are sequential but rubbery, with no affixed period, and an aggrieved party may sail across, mixing up or skipping some stages in between, and recover in no time at all. The 7 stages are: shock and denial, pain and guilt, anger and bargaining, depression, upward turn, reconstruction and working through, and finally, acceptance. But to ride through grief, one must know firstly how grief happens.
Religion has been the pinnacle of mankind. It is responsible for our lifestyle, the constant unrest between nations, civic consciousness, moral conduct and governance. It shapes us to become who and what we are today. However, what most people overlooked is the well known mantra of ‘Giving more so that one could receive.’ An extreme example would be “If anyone slaps you on your right cheek, offer him your left also.” Deep, mysterious parable that is. But a powerful one. That is another topic of discussion altogether.
Giving is an act of love, and giving begins with one being emphatic, generous, happy, caring, or simply, being dutiful. No one will give to their enemies where love doesn’t co-exist. And the more you love someone, the more you will give.
But taking or receiving is inevitable. Taking begins with the suckling of our mothers breasts, till one receives education, and finally when one is fit to take on the world. That dependence comes from one’s natural parents, guardians or sponsors. It is this constant state of receiving that one can mistakenly inherit the dogma of entitlement, thus quite often, a receiver will never know when to give back. Even after they grow into successful adults. Sometimes they defer their plans, others went chasing after rainbows. As a result, their caregivers are neglected because giving is not reciprocated. Until that fateful moment of loss arrives.
The receiver is then confronted with guilt, regret, denial , blaming oneself, the “ifs” I were to do this and that, the longing to do more which they did not initiate when their loved ones is still alive, because there exists an imbalance between giving and receiving. If one would have given enough or more than one receives, grief is short lived. But that is a natural frailty of man. To put off affirmations, praises, visits, giving of gifts. All these can be taught, but never will they ever be fully executed.
But managing grief is entirely different. The rites encountered in certain religions helps the aggrieved to let go. They are the hidden gems subtly designed with human emotions in mind. This if one could afford to, a full rite is better than half-baked ones. The action of burning incense is letting go, the serving of meals and drinks and the giving away of sweets to well wishers is letting go, the throwing of gluttonous rice, the offering of candles, the placing of wreathes and flowers on the casket, the singing of hymns, the shouting of mantras, the placing of bones into urns, throwing flowers into the pit, these rituals were all designed with giving in mind. If one couldn’t afford to, the giving away of the deceased possessions to the poor and underprivileged is another way of letting go. And when one gives, one will gradually let go. And the more one let go, the natural progression lightens our heart to recovery.
So it is right to say that hidden beneath all religions, beit right or wrong, our forefathers whom has designed all these sacred rites and mantras had us in mind. To help us heal.