Tuesday, October 11, 2022

The prayers for a departed soul - What it is for us?

 Families come together in the strangest way when hit by tragedy. Everyone gives support in any way they can. As I wrap my trip here I am learning more about people around me. I have not ashamed to accept that we forget the connection in general and live just the monotonous life but these events just stop life with a bolt and make us introspective of our choices in general.

The last day of services for my BIL was conducted at home. Close family members did some Shanti Pooja after biding good bye, guiding the family to move on with around 40 people and 4 priests, prayers and food.

I saw the concerns, suggestions, questions among the guests . The formalities to be completed for obtaining the death certificate, the bill payment for the whole period, the conversations about the to do list, the wrapping up of finances and also wrapping up a household . My co- sister has to start her life all over again, move to the city she grew up in to be closer to her daughters, with my mother in law moving to her daughter’s home. One person was keeping so many things in place. I do feel for my co-sister but cannot stop thinking about the girls. They will miss their dad’s advice in so many ways and his absence will cloud everything in their life.

For now I can only hope that these long ceremonies gave them closure, strength and courage to live their life and they will remember their dad in his style - larger than life and living fully.

What brought peace in your life in these circumstances and what suggestions would you have for someone in a similar situation? 

The Karma and the Dharma - What these customs mean to you

 My brother in law left so unexpectedly and sudden that we all are still in shock. The last rights, rituals and prayers are meant to give you the closure. Right now it doesn’t feel that way. Both of our nieces performed all the customs together. I have been part of these prayers and I couldn’t be any prouder. These girls have special place in my heart but these past few days I am in awe of their strength, determination and love for their dad. My BIL was a wonderful dad, always there for his girls, helped my SIL doing household chores and being very active part of girls growing up. He was their mentor and best friend. 

Seeing these two performing the rituals was an experience, It will stay with me forever. I know as a society we have progressed a lot but it is still not very common for girls to perform the customs. My BIL donated his body so there were not traditional last rites and cremation but the family decided to follow all other 12 days services. I wasn’t here for all of them but was there for day 13th and 14th ( the most important days)

The  Priest was very patient and accommodating and did very nice job. My BIL was one of the most social person you could come across, he was handsome, funny, witty, charming and a wonderful communicator. The small town “Ramtek” ( this town has a religious significance for Maharashtrian families for these observance) saw visitors from far and afar friends and relatives equally. They all were in shock and had many stories about him. 

And now they have another story to talk about how my BIL and co-sister raised amazing daughters who followed their heart and made not only their dad proud but the whole family.

I for one will be forever grateful to be part of their journey and show how these girls in their 20s are way progressive than so many of people around them. 

A silk from my moms closet, I so needed the comfort and love from her that day

Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Grief has its own way of showing up and healing has its own way too.

 Our family is dealing with a sudden loss. My husband’s older brother passed away last week from a massive heart attack. No one could do anything and he was just gone on a fine Monday afternoon. I woke up to find multiple missed calls from the family. That was the day it hit me - how far we are from everyone and how “things” come in the way even if you want to just rush to be with everyone.

For the first time Mr. Husband and I had planned our trip to India together without the kids. Anand is ready to stay on his own with some supervision from friends and weekend visits from his brother. 

The planning, shopping, packing was going on. I was trying to keep my anxiety in check of leaving both kids alone and traveling with Mr husband out of the country. 

At the same time, I had the DDS conference in my mind too. A welcome remark and panel discussion were exciting too.

After getting the news Monday just went in frenzy and from that night on I just lost my sleep. I would sleep just a few hours at night and I was working on an already over packed schedule.The Sunday before I had just stopped everything and written my remarks and that was my saving grace because the next two days I had no idea what was going on around me.

Wednesday night was the toughest as the following morning I had to be on my best on the stage to convey the message of a mom who was an immigrant, a foreigner, a minority and different yet the same as other moms.

I was worried if I would be able to pull it off. I had the sense of tremendous responsibility that morning.

Years ago I started this conversation with my parents about last rites and wishes but I had no idea what anyone would want at the Pandey’s. I heard for the first time on that day my brother in law had donated his body to medical science and that made me realize how little I knew him as a person. The more I think about it I feel that somehow we miss that connection with the family when we move far away? We meet occasionally and it is all vacation and fun. We don’t get to see their day to day life or struggles. I think my friends here in Boston know more about my wishes, life style, routine than my own familes. I am determined to change it from now on.

What is your experience? Do you think you lost your connection with your cousins, extended family, friends from childhood, high school? Will you stop and rethink ?

Bangalore Sakhies welcomed me in a totally unique way, For Mahalakshmi Pooja “Pandal darshan”, The meet was planned long back and I was not sure if I should go with so much going on last week. But I am glad I went. The meet, the prayers, the spiritual part of Durga Pooja sure helped me heal. 

A bengal taant from my mom’s closet.