Monday 16 March 2009

A Bereaved Friend

I got a call early this morning from a friend who had found out last night that she had lost her mother. This is always devastating, but what was different for this sister was that she was here with her husband and small children, whereas her mother was in Pakistan.

This has always been a problem for the immigrant community here, when you lose someone you cannot get to them straight away. You have to arrange passports, tickets at short notice, visa’s if you have naturalised in the country you now live in, all in a state of utter desolation.

This is one reason why my family are very big on always keeping your passport current and also why they were keen when the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) card scheme came out which meant you could apply for a card that would replace a visa for ten years. As my parents have always said, you never know when you have to go in a hurry. When my grandmother passed away we were lucky to have passports and NADRA cards, so everyone packed and went to the airport and whoever could get a seat on a plane just went.

It’s difficult though being here, because when you are far from your loved ones you are distanced from the events leading up to the death: the illness, the last hours, the opportunity to say your goodbyes and ask for forgiveness, the washing of the body and often the burial. Because Muslims bury their dead at the earliest opportunity, often the family member that is abroad does not get the chance to reach his loved ones in time for the janaza (funeral) prayer and burial. This affects the grieving process because you can’t believe that the person has really left you, you still imagine them waiting for you in your childhood or family home when you go back.

This was the case with my friend. My husband is working with her husband to get his passport (which was with the Swiss embassy in preparation for a conference abroad) and tickets for today. Knowing she may be going during the day, my husband took me to see her before work and subhan’Allah she was so strong. She did not cry at all. I don’t think she believed it had really happened. She imagined her mum waiting for her in her parent’s home. She said she wanted to scream and let out all the pain and yet she was so dignified in her grief mash’Allah.

Many people try to hold back the burial so that their relatives abroad can get there in time to see their family member for the last time. My friend told her family to go ahead and bury her mother without her, thinking that it would cause difficulty for her mother in the next life to delay burial. She was strong enough to put her mother’s needs before her own mash’Allah and to let her faith guide her.

Insh’Allah dua’s are requested for this sister, and may Allah (SWT) bestow ease and patience on those of you who have endured the same experience.

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