Reflections

Gratitude In The Midst of Death

I was doing some dishes today and suddenly had a trip down memory lane of the way my cousins and I would try to conserve water when we washed dishes at our grandparent’s place. 

We spent most of our holidays as young children at my grandparent’s. For a good two to three weeks we got to spend time with them every year. When you’re young, you don’t quite understand the significance of that time but now that I’m older, I’m extremely grateful for the time we had together. 

It’s going on two years since my grandmother passed. It was a normal Friday evening like any. I went to a beautiful Halaqah at LSE, spent time with friends and laughed till I cried, by all accounts, it was a perfect day. Close to midnight my Dad came home and broke the news, “Your grandmother has passed away.” 

The first thing that came to mind was my last conversation with her. I promised I would come to Nigeria for NYSC and see her then. I remembered her prayers and our goodbye over that phone call. If only I knew that would be the last time I spoke to her? I had never felt so numb. I cried till I had nothing left. It’s a strange thing when someone you think will always be around leaves, it’s an experience that mandates presence. 

Grief truthfully is never ending. The loss never goes away. And how can it? The person you have lost is special to you. They hold a permanent space in the chambers of your heart. But what grief eventually morphs into is gratitude. And I’m talking about a soul uplifting, spiritual Cloud 9, thank you God, I am forever indebted you blessed me with this person type of gratitude. 

I am grateful to God that my grandmother lived a good life. I am grateful to God that He blessed me to be her grand daughter. What an honour! 

But you know what I am also grateful for?  I am grateful to God for His promises. I don’t know what I would do if I believed that this life was the end. If there wasn’t a glimmer of hope or that prospect that Allah has promised that we can be reunited with our loved ones in the Hereafter. That promise is enough to say a thousand Alhamdulilahs. 

Life is tough. Death is painful. The entire world is battling an invisible virus. Deaths are rising by the thousands. People I know are losing loved ones. Sometimes I’m anxious, other times I’m downright scared. 

Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un

“Verily we belong to Allah, and verily to Him do we return.”

This is one of the ayahs that brings me comfort and reassures me in this unsettling time. I want you to think about it this way. If I lend you something that I love with the expectation that I will take it back, the time you have with it is a gift. And when you return it back (as hard as it is) you can take comfort that I love it as much as you do and I will also take care of it.

The being our loved ones are returning to isn’t just anyone, we are talking about Al-Wadud (The Most Loving) and Al-Khaliq (The Creator). There is no one better to trust with those we love. Now more than ever is the time for us to connect with the Names of Allah. To live and breathe them as we navigate a challenging time.

It is Allah that gives strength and I pray that for everyone who has been affected in one way or another by this virus, that Al Jabbar (The Restorer) and As-Salaam (The Source of Peace) grants you all that you need. Only He knows what the journey going forward looks like.

You will get through this.

Cry if you need to, after all the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) shed tears over the loss of his son. What is within our power is to continue to pray for the deceased, do Sadaqah Jariyah on their behalf and pray that our eventual meeting with them is one of happiness. More so, it is also a time for us to reflect on how we want to spend the rest of our days.

May we all be shining beacons and a legacy to the people who have left this world. And when our time comes, may the Angel of Death find us only in a state that is pleasing to Allah. May we be granted the pleasure of being in the company of our loved ones in Jannatul Firdaus, Ameen.

I want to finish with some words from Maya Angelou which never fails me,

“When I find myself filling with rage over the loss of a beloved, I try as soon as possible to remember that my concerns and questions should be focused on what I learned or what I have yet to learn from my departed love. What legacy was left which can help me in the art of living a good life?

Did I learn to be kinder,
To be more patient, 
And more generous,
More loving,
More ready to laugh,
And more easy to accept honest tears?

If I accept those legacies of my departed beloveds, I am able to say, Thank You to them for their love and Thank You to God for their lives.”

I pray that you benefited from this post and I would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section. Subscribe via email for exclusive content and new post notifications. Listen to my podcast Bookversations here.

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