He was told by the doctors that he had two months to live. So, his daughter came to India to spend that time along with the rest of the family. Life’s knocks had embittered him and he had lost all faith in God. He was unwilling to see a counsellor nor listen to anything religious. The daughter wanted him to be cheerful but all her attempts at sharing some wisdom from the Bhagavad Gita led him to withdraw into a shell. Feeling helpless she asked me how we could help him.
I suggested that she ask her father if he had any unfulfilled wishes. He said no. Then, what would make him happy? What would make him feel like his presence had mattered? What was he most proud about? She said – providing for our family in difficult times and ensuring a decent education for the 3 children. And hence I suggested that as a family they talk about old times, all the memorable moments in his life. If her father veered and wallowed in his problems, it was important for him to express. Then, she could gently bring him back to what he had learnt, how he had grown and most importantly how he had provided for his family.
As a daughter, she could share what she had learnt from him. The life lessons that she and others had learnt by observing him she still held dear, and was passing on to his grandkids. Watching movies, playing his favourite songs, remembering happy times might lighten his mood. Perhaps his heart would soften, the smile would grow wider and there may be a twinkle in the eye. At some point in time if he is receptive, she could share what she understand about the framework of karma. One’s blessings and suffering in this lifetime is due to our karma, choices in this lifetime and previous lifetimes. Knowing that he is cared for, everyone wants him to be happy and wishes him well, might be enough for him. I also suggested that she pray for strength to deal with the impending loss and peace and strength for his onward journey. A few weeks later she called me to say that his last days were peaceful. On the day her father passed away he himself had asked for Om namah shivaaya to be played in a low volume. Although surprised, the family played it on loop trusting that the Lord would take care of their father’s onward journey.
Research about the five most common regrets shared by people nearing death were:
“I wish I had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”
“I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.”
“I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.”
“I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.”
“I wish that I had let myself be happier.”