One by One, They All Die

The atmosphere was filled with grief and sadness. When you listened closely, you could hear people holding back tears while others were quietly crying into a handkerchief. You stood there, head down as if in prayer as a sign of respect to the deceased. You recognised this atmosphere all too well, it is after all the 10th funeral that you have attended in the past year. The deceased was a close friend of yours, one that you had spent countless hours, night after night, talking and laughing about life and the past. You had known the deceased for almost 40 years now and to find out that he is finally gone had broken your heart… well… should have…

You seemed to have gotten used to it. Used to the deaths of your loved ones and dying in general. You know that you should feel heartbroken and destroyed but… you just don’t seem to be. Maybe, you finally realised the futility of it all. People die and it is only a matter of time. Furthermore, you thought that it might be better to die in these golden years.

You had lived your life. You had achieved all the dreams that you wanted, each period of your life represented by a ticking off of the bucket list. You had seen the world, met countless types of people from various backgrounds and ethnicities. You have heard stories and told them too, sharing and exchanging knowledge. You have visited the edges of the world and done some incredibly crazy things but most importantly, the biggest goal of all, you were married to a wonderful person and had grown old together.

Slowly, the body was lowered into the ground, prayers were quietly said beneath breaths and soil was carefully placed onto the body, bit by bit filling up the grave. A final good-bye was said and the crowd of dark and grieving colours dispersed. You knelt down silent, one hand on the grave, listening to the cool breeze against the grass and taking in the flowery scent emanating from the air.

“This is it, is it?”, you spoke, talking to no one.

You closed your eyes trying to stop the tears that were threatening to roll down. You breathed in deep, forcing back the tears but… to no avail. Your mind wandered about your own mortality and how one day you would find yourself on your deathbed, clinging to life, how one day you will be 6 feet under too. You cried, tears streaming down your cheeks as you thought about how your memories, experiences and the life that you had lived will all disappear. You thought about the amount of time you had left… Your days are numbered.

However, after all of that, you began to realise that you are grateful. You are grateful for being life to enjoy this world. You are grateful to being able to meet everyone that you had learned to love. You are grateful for being able to live such a long and beautiful life…

After wiping the tears away, you stood up and walked away. As you walked away, you wondered about when will you come back to the cemetery again and in what state, in a coffin or in a crowd? Whatever it is, your mind is clear and you accept whatever comes your way, it would be selfish to want to live forever wouldn’t it?

 

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My Funeral

The smell of fresh flowers filled the air. The murmuring of prayers under the breaths of people is the only sound that broke the silence along with the occasional sobbing. Tears dripping from their eyes, wetting their cheeks. Their lips pressed together trying to push back the tears while others sobbed quietly in the corner, hands to their mouths trying not to burst out in tears. There are some who stood quietly with their heads down as if in silent prayer.

You stood from afar, looking at the scene before you. You wanted to tell them not to cry. You wanted to tell them that you are in a better place right now but you can’t, they could not hear you or see you. With eyes shut, lips in an everlasting smile, your body laid cold on the floor, wrapped in pristine white cloth as per the Islamic way. Prayers were said, goodbyes and kisses were given. They wrapped you in the white cloth and proceeded to put you in the casket to be brought to the cemetery.

You stood there, observing the surroundings. You saw many families and friends, people that you love and cherish till the end of the world. You also saw many other people that you have impacted one way or another. The auntie that you always bought breakfast from every morning, the cleaner uncle around your area and even the young children you always played with at the park every weekend. You tried to hug them, telling them that you are thankful for them to be there but your body just went through them, hopefully, they know that you are grateful.

That is how I want my funeral to be like, filled with friends and families that I will forever cherish and people that I have impacted positively that will remember my legacy.

To achieve that, I will need to start living by doing things that would impact others positively. It all begins now. It really put things into perspective on how I should live my life.

It really put things into perspective on how I should live my life because I do not want to be forgotten after two generations, instead, I want my legacy to live on for as long as it can. It may sound arrogant but it is because I want my existence to leave a lasting impact on the world and continue to bring positivity long after my passing.

Many people have died bringing nothing to this world. Why don’t we make use of our existence to benefit humanity instead?

Life Is Counted in Memories Not Years

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Life Is Counted In Memories Not Years

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The title was taken from an engraving on a gravestone when I went to visit the cemetery recently.

“Life is counted in memories not years” is a wonderful quote and I completely agree with it.

Sometimes we forget that the memories that we form from our experiences in life are much more important than the number of years that we have lived so far.

Imagine waking up as an 80-year-old with cracking bones and sore muscles thinking about whether you have truly lived life. You tried to recall all the experiences and memories that you had when you were younger but realised that it did not amount to much. You began to realise that most of the years that you have lived are empty years without any wonderful memories. Those empty years are instead filled with routine work and so much procrastination, chasing after something material that never lasts. You feel deep regret because you know that you should have used your younger years better by experiencing and exploring life. Now, when you finally realised that living a long time does not matter, it is already too late.

I have always found value in memories over many other things and when I saw that engraving on that gravestone, it brought me new found motivation to learn and explore the world as much as I can. I have this ultimate dream that when it is time for me to die, I would want to be on my deathbed with a wealth of beautiful memories that I can tell my children and grandchildren and pass knowing that I have truly lived life.

 

Questions for the Dead

Death is that one journey that nobody has ever returned from and most of us are afraid of it because of how little true information that we have. There is no catalogue of the places we can see in the hereafter, there are no brochures or websites that we can browse through to get an idea of the place and there are no travel guides that we can ask.

Recently, I paid a visit to the cemetery to clean and pay my respects to my late grandfather, late grandmother and my late cousin whom just passed away recently. In Singapore, Muslim graves are made out of concrete rectangular boxes giving neat rows and columns. Each empty grave will be cleared of dirt before the body is placed in. Once the body has been placed in, dirt will be used to fill the rest of the grave. Due to the nature of the graves being pre-dug and pre-built, there would be empty graves emptied of its dirt beside the filled ones. This was the case for my late cousin’s grave.

I stood there, looking at his grave and at the empty one beside it with a ladder sticking out. I began to wonder how it would be like to be lying in that empty grave. The feeling of claustrophobia, intense fear of what is to come and the thought that there is never a way out.

In Islam, we were taught that the soul will be placed back into the body once it has been successfully buried and it will exist there till the end of times in a realm called the Alam Barzakh. So, I began to think about the many questions that would want to ask my late cousin and to at least have an idea of death before I truly die.

I would want to ask questions like:

What did you feel when you realised that you are dead?

What is the reality in that realm?

How are you being treated?

How do the angels Munkar & Nakir look like?

What will you be doing till the end of time?

Being a Muslim, most of these questions have already been answered but think about it, wouldn’t interviewing a person’s experience be so much more wonderful?

I spend a lot of my free time thinking about life and how I can make mine better. However, sometimes, I would think about death. Thinking about death has made me accept the fact that death will happen to anyone at any time and prepare myself that a sudden death of a loved one will not give me a tight slap of reality.

Death is inevitable no matter what faith or beliefs that we have. It also does not matter if we believe in a hereafter or the existence of the soul, death will still come to us and only then can we truly understand the nature of it.