One of the greatest tests anybody could ever face in their lives is the loss of a child. There is nothing that can prepare us for it. Which mother does not live in fear of something happening to her child, constantly worrying about the child that is out of sight and inflating every little danger in her mind?
What do we do when one of those things become real and someone we know loses a child? How can we help and console them knowing we cannot take the pain away? I could be accused of being a bit of a fraud for writing on this topic as I have never experienced this loss. But I have been a bystander to this devastating experience and I have wished I knew better how to help the people who were suffering.
This week a family member in Pakistan lost their disabled four year old child. My father-in-law raced over to help in whatever way he could. Alhamdulillah, I have learnt so much about the right thing to do at different time of happiness or loss from my in-laws. My father-in-law is a lesson in the practical things you can do when there is a death – drive everyone around, take people to and from the hospital and getting the body released, contacting the masjid to make arrangements for the funeral.
My mother-in-law and mum have taught me how we can support sisters emotionally and spiritually. I have seen the women in our community gather together at difficult times. They will share out mealtimes between them and then bring food for the family for the first week or two. One sister will bring prayer books for everyone, another will take the other children home during the day to keep them occupied.
The women will gather around the grieving parents and hold them and encourage them to cry. Reminders will be given on the rewards for those who show patience in times of suffering. Often you hear sisters recounting personal experiences of similar losses. Everyone will recall their various experiences of the person who has died – good things they said or dead.
Last week one of my close friends had to fly out to Pakistan on hearing that her fifteen year old brother had suffered a brain haemorrhage and was in a coma. She had recently visited Pakistan after ten years here and come back so happy, saying her little brother was so big now. A month later, she had to take the first available flight back. Dad-in-law was tasked with visiting the hospital and offering food or accommodation as Lahore is not her native city. She refused to leave the hospital, spending all night in the waiting room crying. The doctors have told her there is no hope of recovery, although life and health is in the hands of Allah (SWT) only.
I am wondering now how best to support her when she returns, what words could possibly be of any use or comfort to her. Please do remember her and her brother and their family in your dua’s insh’Allah.
Update - I wrote this yesterday. I got a call today to say her brother had passed away this morning. Inna lillahi wa inna ilaihi raji'un. We belong to Allah and to Him we shall return. I know she will be utterly devastated. Please do remember her in your dua's insh'Allah.