Being Prepared

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It is the beginning of a new month.And Augusts are always special. Often, there are an umpteen number of holidays and festivals lined up in August – which would naturally mean fun time with family. August Is a very special month for me too. Both my father-in-law and husband have their birthdays in August and our marriage anniversary is in August too. Incidentally my grandparents too were married in August. Hence, the month had always been special for me.My son having completed his board exams this year, my husband and I had planned for a gala wedding anniversary this year. But what we hadn’t planned for was a future without one of us. So, here I am – facing the August rain – alone!

Death, sickness and separation isn’t a pleasant thing to talk about but standing at this juncture I’ve realized that it is wiser to look at the issue practically than attach a mere sentimental value to it. Everytime my husband spoke about ATMs and banking issues, I would hardly pay attention because I always had the rosy belief that I would die in my husband’s lap with a red saree and that perfect smear of vermillion on my forehead. The result of this was the intense game of permutation and combination I had to do to crack the code of ATM pin while he was hospitalised. Thankfully, I had known him too well to decipher his thought process in selecting the PIN number!

Incidentally, I recently read a real life incident in a group about a couple who were young and married for just three years or so. They were both well established professionals. Unfortunately one fine day the husband went out for a work, never to return again. All that was returned to her was his mangled body after a fatal crash. This wasn’t the end of the story. The story merely began from here. The husband being an IT guy had passowrd protected every important document, every mail, every banking detail. Being in IT security services himself, he had the habbit of changing the passwords every now and then. Thus began her epic struggle in retrieving all his data, documents, banking details etc. Also, both being working professionals, they had the luxury of choosing very high EMI to be repaid. With her husband’s death a bulk of the earnings was gone, leaving her in a difficult postion to pay the EMIs alone! I could well relate with her narration and thus thought of penning this blog.

From childhood, I’ve always heard of this phrase – Be Prepared. Being a Christian I understood from childhood that it is important to be good and kind so as to ensure a safe berth to heaven. Being a Hindu, my husband had also almost heart the same thing – what we do today, now will ensure a better kind of birth in our next cycle. So, either for Berth or for Birth, we prepare ourselves and invest in spirituality and ‘doing good’. How much we are able to do is a different question but often we are never prepared for the rainy days – especially when we are young. We almost, always believe that ‘’being prepared’’ in practicality is for the older generation.

But at times when lightening strikes, we are caught unawares. A young couple, about to be married, were recently struck by the lightening and thunder as they were spending some intimate moments together in an open park. They had merely got into the park after a shopping spree for their wedding. The man died on the spot, while the woman is critical. Life, often catches us unawares – just like the incident…..We cannot change that but we can be practical enough to make it more comfortable for the other half.

Insurance and Investments – I have always been too wary of issues like insurance plans – merely because of the complexities. But now I realise the importance of one. And yes, medical insurances alone don’t work. They work for short hospital stays, surgeries and basic medical conditions but often for long term treatments, they do not offer unlimited financial guarantee. I am not saying they are not important but there should and must be back-up arrangements as well.

As to insurances, along with long-term life covers, it is equally important to have insurances that can be withdrawn for emergency needs. To make the process of emergency withdrawal hassle-free, it is always important to always keep a company of a friendly insurance agent.

As to investments, it is wiser to have joint investments. It not only eases the burden on one partner but also make each other be aware of the investments. https://www.financialexpress.com/money/how-joint-investment-options-with-spouse-can-help-you-plan-your-finances-better/1159331/

It is wiser to have joint bank accounts where money can be withdrawn by either of the account holders. This helps not only in cases of death but also in sickness of one of the spouses when doing signature becomes challenging. In my case, my husband was always insistent on a joint account where either of us could sign. Though it did take some time for me to remember my signature but ultimately I could withdraw money. It also helped that he had made me do the original bank signature on a document and keep it safely. When I was really racking my brain as to what my signature was, I chanced upon the document and I remembered how my bank signature was. So, if you not in the habbit of withdrawing your money often, keep a sample of your signature. It helps.

All this is possible only if you do not have any major trust issues with your spouse !

In case you have children, think of a solid investment plan that can support their education, even in the absence of their parents – if at all. Frankly, both of us did not have much idea or thoughts about such investments. The idea of this was shared and well explained by my brother Kailash. Step by step he told me how we can actually plan a secure future for our children even in our absence.

Be organised, keep a record – I have always been clumsy. Comparitively, my husband was the more organised one. Though it was devastating when he was hospitalised and I was too nervous, it did help that he was organised and kept a record of different things. As I rummaged through the drawers, I found his black clutch purse which contained all the important documents – his ID proofs, warranty bills, bank papers etc. It was a huge relief for me. I carry that clutch purse with myself now (though I often forget where I last saw the purse 🙂 ) Also, he had a diary which contained important information – like the password for the home wifi connection. My father-in-law always stresses on the need to keep things at proper places – keys, wallets, old sim cards, papers, telephone book, visiting cards etc. Looking back I feel this is very important. By chance you are sick and unable to communicate, your family members would always know where to kind the keys to the locker, telephone number of a long-forgotten relative etc. And it is very vital to keep the medical documents in order – prescriptions, medical reports, medical insurance papers. I did have to rummage a lot when my husband was hospitalised because the doctors did need a track of his medical history.

It is an equally good habbit to maintain a written record in the form of a private diary containing passwords, important notes and information. My husband’s diary gave me a clue to his work related issues, the net banking password and important telephone numbers. It was very vital for me to get hold of those.

Inform and Be Informed – It is very important to always keep the family members well informed about the different policies, bank accounts, financial commitments etc. For the spouses, inform and be informed. So that if one passes away the handling of finances can be smooth. With my own life experience I’ve noticed that it is a wise decision to involve children in the information process. Children remember a lot of things that adults don’t. My husband had a good habbit of always trusting on his daughter and informing her about everything that is within her grip. As a result, after her Dad passed away she could recall and remember a lot many things – where her father has stacked away the cup cake moulds, what prompt should be given if the laptop shows a certain software malfunction, how to change the password, where was the shop from where he had ordered her school uniform etc. With my low memory, this came handy. Children are fantastic secret keepers as well, so you can trust them blindly. Only you should know how to place the story rightly! Now, I make it a point to always inform my children about different important documents, passwords etc.

Keep your liabilities low – If you both have a liability – a loan to repay, an EMI to give, plan it such that things can be manged even if a person is single. In the real life incident that I read, the lady underwent a huge crisis because the collective EMI that she had to pay post his death was more than she could afford with her single income. So, it is better to be judicious. Also, be aware with things like mortgages. We had a ring mortgaged. While he was in hospital, we repayed the entire amount. But after his death they wouldn’t give the ring back citing different legal clauses. So, for more than two months we are running aorund preparing affidavits, notorising documents. And we are yet to apprach the councillor for her approval of legal heir document. So for a mere 10,000 bucks we’ve ended up spending 4000 bucks on legal issues alone, so far. And we still have a long way to go. So, it is best to avoid liabilities that would pose challenges for your heirs.

 

Build foundations for a support structure – Not always, but what we do for others is often returned back to us in rich dividends. That my husband had a very good rapport with every ordinary human being – from the newspaper vendor to the milkman to the local shopkeeper, has actually helped us and still helping us in many ways. Simple, ordinary people come forward to support us, help us just because he was friendly with them. I remember the local cleaner coming up to me and tell, “He was very special. No one smiles at us but he did. What a beautiful soul ! Didi, if you ever need any help, I am there!” Yesterday I had a terrible backache and it made walking back from office a huge challenge. Everytime I would put down my feet, a pain would rush down my feet. As I was worrying, the local taxi driver – a friend of hours, brought in his taxi and drove me home very carefully. And he was the one who rushed us to the hospital day in , day out without taking a look at his watch. Having come for my husband’s funeral , he told just one thing, “ From the day his son turned a year old till he grew up, this man personally came and invited us for the birthday parties. I’ve never received so much of honour from anyone else!”

All these experiences make me believe that little attitudes of ours help build a solid foundation of support for the family. It is foolish to assume that every member of the extended family would support in the same way. It is much more crucial to build little links with social systems that make a part of our daily life.

Invest in human bonds – One thing that I have learnt in my own journey is that there is nothing greater than human bond. A good, solid friendship works a long way to support you in times of crisis. I have had blogger friends whom I’ve never seen providing their relentless support. I have seen my long-lost childhood buddies become my pillar of strength. I’ve had my brother-in-law , whose existence I did not know of turn into my brother. I’ve seen my husband’s ex senior office colleague become a  father figure through his constant words of encouragement. And all have extended their unending support merely on the basis of a simple word called ‘humanity’’. When many of my closes people have walked away, people whom I hardly knew came in to support me. So, I believe that it is worth more than a thousand riches to invest in good human relationships! In times of crisis, nothing works better!!

Legacy of Values– If you have immovable assets, it is wise to have a will drafted even if you are younger. It is a myth that family members stay happily ever after. Property disputes have led siblings baying for each other’s blood. It can also lead to displacement of your own people from your own home. So, it is wiser to know who stands where even before catastrophe strikes. But assets, money, property is not what should be your primary concern. Success is not what you earn in your life-time, it is the legacy of values you leave behind. There was a time when my husband used to work in Sales. One day he came home flummoxed. “The other guys keep a margin for themselves even above the margin of the company. How can they do this?” That day I told him one thing, “I am proud of you. I would rather die a poor man’s wife than walk on the carpet of dishonesty”. He had held on to my hand for many moments. Cut to future.My daughter came back from school. “Mummy, we had a surprise test for History today. You know everyone was copying from their books. I didn’t. My freind asked me why I wasn’t copying so I told him that even if I fail, I would never copy. My Papa would never approve of it!”” It brought tears to my eyes. My husband died a poor man but he left behind unmatched riches in terms of values and upbringing in my children. I can vouch for the fact that if not anything, my children would never, ever be dishonest. When we die we take nothing with us. But what we leave is a part of us The legacy of values that we leave behind carries on for generations to come!

It isn’t a pleasant thing to talk about death and disaster. I used to be the last person to hear about such depressing issues. But I have realised that life is all about uncertaniities and it is wiser to be prepared than to be caught unawares. All that I have written here are my personal views. You may not agree to everything but as I have said before, it is my mission to create awareness. It is my own little tribute to my husband!

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The Other side of the Fence: Dealing with Death

candle‘Death’ was the last word in my dictionary of sunshine and happiness when I was handed a word puzzle. I arranged the letters and it spelt : D E A T H. Disbelief followed a heart-wrenching, gut-wrenching feeling of helplessness. I looked and re-looked at the lifeless, cold body that I once called my husband. People spoke of responsibilities as a mother, some spoke about the soul being around always, but above all what stood in front of me was Death.

Dealing with death is the most difficult part of survival. Nothing helps, believe me, NOTHING helps. But yet as I came face to face with death I realised that having a helpful and rational bunch of people around, always helps – not to ease the pain but to reduce the after-effect – the trauma that follows. One big truth that I have come to realise is the effect of death of a loved one becomes more and more profound in the days that follow. Facing death is a surreal experience – a zone between reality and disbelief; the hard-hitting realisation comes in the days that follow when what is left behind is a handful of memories and a whole lot of trauma – especially if the death is an unexpected one!

Having gone through the experience myself there are several responses I really wish the society shuns or follows, just to make ‘handling death’ an easier experience. These are my personal opinion and I am ready to be branded a social outcast for saying what I feel.

Allow the freedom to choose rituals: After a month long battle at the hospital for his Dad and after a night long fight with destiny, when my teenage son finally arrived with his Dad’s body, he hardly had time to say a proper good-bye to his Dad, he could hardly sit beside him to kiss his fore-head as a final farewell. Instead he had to take part in rigorous pre-cremation rituals that was not just taxing on his physical well-being but also his mental well-being as well. And after all this when he was asked to put fire on his Dad, he couldn’t take it anymore…..It is more than a month now, and every single night he shudders and cries remembering the rituals. And it is not with him alone, he shares the same trauma with his school friend who too had to undergo similar process when his Dad passed away a few years ago.

Call me blasphemous, brand me anti-religious, I don’t care. As a mother, it is my appeal to the society as a whole – move on…allow the families the freedom to choose the rituals. It is absolutely fine for a son or a grandson to follow every ritual respecting the last wishes of an aged father or grandfather. But at the same time it should be equally fine for a married daughter to light her mother’s funeral pyre if she wishes to and it should be absolutely fine to spare a father from putting fire to his young daughter. It doesn’t matter which religion, but please cut down on the rituals. Facing death itself is a tremendously traumatic experience, don’t add on to the grief by piling on rituals. Trust me, every soul reaches where it intends to go – the mountaineer who loses life during a climb and whose body is never found, a victim of air-crash who never gets a proper burial, a homeless aged man who dies on the roadside….they all go where they have to, if at all. Even Kalpana Chawla, I am sure found her space in the space that she deserved.

So, if you ever find a family that is trying to do it differently, be firmly beside them. Give them the courage to face social ridicule. In our case, thankfully a few rational souls did come forward in support of my child and hence he was spared from further post-cremation rituals. And I really wish that our society improves in the number of such rational population and spares yet another child of a post-death trauma.

Your role doesn’t end here: Most people leave after cremation or funeral. If in your capacity, begin your role from here. The grieving family is often tired, hungry and yet may have guests at home. Please partake in the arrangements. In our case, in the night of the cremation, we were just seven people – my in-laws, my children, myself and two male guests who were sons-in-law from my in-laws side. Apart from the unending turmoil within, I had a splitting headache where I could hardly open my eyes. But I had guests and children. Thankfully food was arranged by my father. But how I wished there were a few more people to do with serving, cleaning and making arrangements for sleeping! You needn’t stay back for the night but do stay as much as you can to help the family. My friends came with a brilliant idea the next day where they proposed that they would make arrangements for a part-time domestic help who would look into the small nitty-gritties at least for a few days. At the time I had refused. But looking back I think it was a brilliant idea that they had proposed! It definitely helps. It is an equally good idea to supply cooked food or provide grocery supplies for a few days of the mourning for the family, of course with their permission and if it is not against their ritual.

Be Sensitive: Death is the time to really portray your human self . How you behave, what you do, what you say – every small detail can make or break a grieving family. Be sensitive! I still remember, while waiting for my husband’s body to arrive, holding my crying daughter’s hand, I suddenly discovered two of my very close relatives standing close-by and sharing a hearty laugh! At first it was disbelief and then it was a piercing pain. My point is, either you are there or you aren’t. Please do not attend the last moments if you do not genuinely feel about it. Don’t make it a courtesy visit!

Similarly, if you do not have anything good to say, do not say at all. A day on after my husband’s death, a member of his family went on and on about how my husband never followed rituals, how he was ‘egoistic’ as to not ask help from relatives etc. Any other time and occasion he would have perhaps ended with a broken jaw but I chose to merely ignore him. But those words are still pierced as glass shards in my heart! Be sensitive! Saying, “He lived a long and hearty life and now that he is dead, don’t be sad. Thank for his long life instead.” or “Oh, thankfully she is now relieved of all her pains”, definitely sounds cool but the person you are referring to is someone’s father or mother. For him, it may not be the ‘relief’ that you are referring to! If you do not find words, just stand….at times silence speaks a thousand words.

Hear Out: At times it helps ease a lot of pain for the family members if they are allowed to talk – of memories they shared, of good times, of bad times, of challenges ahead. Lend a patient ear. Hear Out. Let them speak. Trust me, it does wonders for the wounded souls. Even today I can go on and on and on about my husband…It helps!

Be there for the Post-Death Memorials/ Rituals: I have already written a Facebook post about it and I want to emphasise on this once again: if there are any memorial services or rituals organised by the family and you are invited, please attend. Having gone through the phase myself I realize that it is tremendously challenging to put an act together in such a short time and yet, at times, it becomes important for the sentimental values attached to it. Death is always a sudden event and hence there are huge constraints – financial, mental, physical….Even then the families do try to organise. It is much important to honour such an event than a well-planned wedding. Every friend who attended the little programmes organised by us, really gave us much happiness. Also, if you hear of such an event being organised and you know the family, do not wait for formal invitation, do visit the family. It would give them the much needed encouragement. I had a few friends doing just that and I shall remain forever grateful to them.

Do not play the match-maker: Our society has a strange and funny approach towards young widows and widowers. If it is a young widow, the discussion veers around her future financial needs, while if it is a young widower the game of match-making begins even before the ashes of his wife cools down. From “How will he manage everything alone?” to “He is still so young and such a long life ahead.” – the excuses are one too many. Hence the hunt for the wife aka governess for his child begins even before all the rituals are over! For heaven’s sake, stop playing the match-maker! A spouse is a partner – a part of one’s soul and existence, it isn’t easy to ‘get going’ just because the society is not used to seeing a young father bringing up a child on his own! The same society however doesn’t have a problem with a young mother bringing up children single-handedly, She is then just a ‘poor thing’. And all this I write from own personal experience – I have seen both! My request is to let them be! If a young man finds love again, let him marry but don’t thrust a relationship down his throat just because a society isn’t used to a single father as a parent.

If you are thinking of help, think of concrete plans: This stems from my previous point – nothing can undermine a financial support in a post death situation. In today’s world where both the spouses earn, do not make it a gender issue. If a young widow needs financial help, so does a widower and so does a retired father who has lost his son or daughter. But instead of a token support, spell out concrete plans as to how they may use the money. I’ve been very lucky in this front. There have been friends coming up with different forms of ideas of probable way by which they could support us. Like one of my cousins gave money to my son to buy books for his new class, a few of my friends handed me money for my son’s admission fees. Yet another group of friends offered to pay the monthly fee of either of my children. Death is so devastating a crisis that it often leaves a sense a bewilderment and a sense of helplessness. Hence a concrete financial support and advise goes a long way in planning! Offer unusual but extremely useful help – like sponsoring a part of the expenses of post-death rituals, offering to pay for monthly medical bills of the ageing parents, sponsoring monthly grocery coupons, an education related fixed deposit, offering to pay the monthly electricity bill! Sounds weird but in my kind of situation such help would go a long, long way in bringing up the courage to lead the family alone. And once again, do not make it gender-sensitive! Everyone needs help.

Do not limit your thoughts to financial support alone. Death leaves an unimaginable void – an unexplained loneliness.A warm and friendly company is worth more than many thousand rupees. If there are aged people having lost their son or daughter, do visit them whenever you can. it would ease out loneliness. If there is a young man or woman losing his or her partner, do talk to them whenever you can, visit them, try to engage them in different activities.

Play the Santa: Small children have different ways of handling death – they either become recluse or become over-reactive. I see the second type of trend in my younger child. Being the closest to her Dad, she suddenly has begun considering everyone to be against her. She is cranky, irritable and extremely adamant right now and exhibits extreme form of mood swings. Every now and then she looks at the photograph of her father and complains to him. And I know that she is missing her Santa.

If you ever find a child going through the agony of facing death, play the role of a Santa -please do. Children need very tiny things to make their life better again – a story telling session perhaps, a small surprise gift, a little outing or even a cuddle gives them enough happiness to tide over their sorrows. You can never replace the ones they have lost but you can always prevent a tear drop from rolling down their cheeks!

Same with pets. Pets too sulk with death of their loved one. They often end up with severe depression.If you are a pet lover, offer to take them for a walk or play with them. It helps them tide over their depression.

Trust me, nothing would give you more happiness than a genuine laughter of a child or a pair of thankful googly-eyes!

Tough call? It is! The choice rests on us – you, me, we…..How we respond as society shapes our tomorrow. A morally responsive and responsible society can make or break the fabric of a society. How we deal with death and help others deal with the same can build the foundations of a socially sensitive society. Are we prepared ?

(Image Courtesy: Pixabay)

The other side of the Fence: Helping through Hospitalization

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One month to be precise, when I lost my husband. But the month included hours, minutes, seconds and zillions of nano seconds of that kind of intense pain which has no name. Within sixty days we have dealt with an intensely grueling hospital experience and a heart shattering death of our most loved one. Sympathies, help, kind words, support – we were never short of warmth. And it brought in myriad experiences as well. Surpassing the body blow that we received, there were many lessons we learnt. At one point my cousin who had faced a sudden death of her mother about a decade ago pointed out how she had to battle all the difficulties on her own without any support. That got me thinking. There are many moments when we are at the other side of the fence – at times feeling helpless as to how we should ideally react when we hear someone we know is hospitalized or has died. How best can we support their families ? How should we react and respond to such situations collectively as a society?

What I write here are based on my personal experiences in these two months – things we were thankful for, reactions that left us bewildered, support that we never expected:

Tackling Hospitalisation: So, how can we actually help those who are dealing with the hospitalization of their dear ones- especially in critical stage?

  • Cut down on enquiries based on assumptions – both negative and positive:: “So, he’s better now? Is he eating on his own?” Nothing hurts more than enquiries which are far from truth – things that you wish would happen but are not happening. It really hurts to say “No” to such queries. I remember one of my relatives asking me about when my husband would be discharged from hospital when he was actually going through a very critical stage.If you at all wish to ask, keep it simple – “How is he now?” Similarly, nothing puts off the relatives more than over-reactive negative remarks. “”Oh my God! Three weeks at the hospital and he is still in ICU?” Believe me, such negative exclamatory reactions are the last thing that the near ones look forward to.
  • Share positive stories: Having a dear one in the ICU is akin to a floating straw in a tumultous ocean and every positive story, every genuine medical miracle story hold out that little flickering ray of hope that they wish would happen! Genuine positive stories, genuine suggestions give the necessary zeal to fight on! So, share positive vibes, positive incidents and provide positive yet practical suggestions.
  • Always remember -if they could, they would: Even in crisis every family would try to give in their best support to the one they love the most. If they have not put him into a particular hospital specialising in neurology they probably could not afford or did not get a seat there. Always remember, if they could, they would. Every “Why didn’t you…..” question is only an agonising reminder to them that probably they are not dealing with the best option. It is not easy to be in their shoes but it is always worth a try.
  • Stop asking for “Visiting Hours”, focus on Solidarity visits instead : If the patient is in a General Ward and is in the recovery phase it is absolutely fine to go and visit him during the visiting hours. When a patient is in ICU, he is probably not in a position to appreciate your loving gesture in visiting him. ICU visiting hours are extremely limited and it is always better for the nearest family members to go and have a look. They may be waiting all day long for that one glimpse. If you are a close relative do go in but if there is someone closer, please offer them the chance. It is much helpful if you visit the hospital for giving moral support and solidarity support to the nearest relatives who spend their days at the hospital. I was very fortunate that a few of my cousins and uncles actually played their ‘Solidarity Support’ part to perfection. They never insisted on seeing the patient and instead helped in talking to the doctors, bringing medicines, offering tea and snacks or simply being there as a mark of solidarity. And I am so mighty grateful to them.
  • Care for the Care-givers: During the month-long hospital stay of my husband, my teenager son stood like a rock beside his father – spending days and nights at the hospital. During this time he would hardly have a proper lunch or breakfast. One of my cousins who stay in the vicinity not only arranged for a night stay at their house but also arranged for the much-needed dinner every day. And it helped him immensely. If you can and is within your capacity, please care for the care-givers or the night-vigilants. They need as much support as the patient.  A cold shower, a place to use a proper wash-room, a glass of cold water…..may be this is all you can arrange. Please do it! There is no service greater than caring for the caregivers.
  • Stand-in – even if it is difficult: A patient in ICU would often mean staying back at the hospital for the near ones. And it often happens that only a single set of people have to stay on -day after day – often tiring themselves. In our case, both my son and father had to be vigilant for about a month. Being a male ward, it was not feasible for women to stay on. And at times I really wished they had stand-ins to volunteer. If you ever get an opportunity, please volunteer. I know, it is often not possible to get a leave from office but then you do take a leave for a birthday party here and a weekend leave there, so why not? It would give much respite to the tired body of the care-givers.
  • Make medical arrangements, if within your capacity: One of the huge,huge ways you can help is by making medical arrangements – arranging for alternative hospitals, arranging for blood, arranging for medical consultations. There can be no bigger help than this. I had received tremendous support from a group of friends who not only arranged for an alternative hospital when the bills became too high, but who also co-ordinated every treatment process and consulted doctors and sought suggestions on our behalf. Believe me, this was an enormous help for us!
  • Every Support Matters: Nothing, trust me NOTHING helps more than genuine financial support. Medical expenses apart there are many tiny ways which accrue on to a huge expense for the family. Every little helps matters. I am most fortunate in this regard where relatives and friends slipped in little envelops and uninformed money transfers to us. And many from friends whom I had never met. It mattered, it mattered tremendously. So no matter how little, do pitch in. It is much more important to pass on a gift of a few rupees to an ailing relative than buying an expensive gift for a wedding present. In terms of usage value, NOTHING compares to the first one! And support may not be just in terms of currency. Some of our friends gave us discount vouchers for Uber ride. You wouldn’t believe how much of help it was for those who were to return home with their tired bodies after a day-long hospital visit. A friend of ours who is a chauffeur, untiringly supported us by offering to drive our vehicle or offer his taxi any time of the day or night – be it 3 PM or 3 Am. And we had no words to really thank him! Do it the way you can but DO SUPPORT!
  • Be Sensitive: Either you are there or you aren’t but for heaven’s sake please be sensitive. If you are travelling to another city to visit a critically ill relative. let your visit be for the purpose of solidarity alone. Do not convert your visit to a shopping spree or hunt for food joints. For the family that is uncertain about the next hour it really does not offer a pleasant sight to look into your bulging shopping bags – even if that includes gift for the family. There is a time for everything and this isn’t it! Similarly if you at all go to the hospital and discover relatives you have not met for a long time, do not convert the visiting lounge to a gossip counter – there may be children losing their mom or dad at that very hour somewhere down the corridor. Be Sensible, Be Sensitive!
  • Be There: ” I am praying for you” . Often, a message as simple as this helps soothe tired souls who need shoulders. I have had friends, cousins and relatives who stay very far away sending simple one liners or prayer messages. It really helped to know that so, so, so many people were there praying for us. No matter if the prayers were heard or not, at that moment, at that time, it really helped us fight the battle.

I know what you must be thinking at the end of all these demo capsules. Do I practice what I preach ? Frankly, not I. And the reason for that is too long and perhaps I would reserve the reason for some other time. But the one for whom we fought the battle certainly did. Any news of hospitalization or of death and he would be the first one to rush – and yes, at times even at the cost of his office hours. From arranging for money to ambulance, from attending funeral parlours to arranging for flowers for the final journey, he has always been there, done it. From being a regular blood donor to being beside ailing relatives, he has tirelessly played his part. And though we could not bring him back, perhaps somehow this is the reason why there were so many umpteen number of friends, relatives and well-wishers who pitched in and poured in their loving help..Perhaps this is what we call Karma!

 

(Image Courtesy: Pixabay)

 

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