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He Died Right in Front of Me

Questioner

F (35_female_US)

Reply Date

Apr 18, 2017

Question

Asalaamu alaikum,I was raised in the United States and I come from somewhat a secular family. I learned Islam over the years on my own and I am taking lessons to further my studies in Islam.I have an 8-year-old daughter. Recently, my father, who is 73 years old, passed away right before my eyes. My daughter was in the apartment but not in the same room when he died. However, I was in the same room. It was very sudden, like within two minutes; we just saw his eyes roll up, his mouth open and his eyes glaring at the ceiling and following a direction north. This is the first time I witnessed this and I felt somewhat humbled yet in shaken. For the past week, our family was grieving and I did not pay attention to my daughter much. I am an introvert and do not talk much. I process things internally and think them through. My daughter is an extrovert and recently started crying, being worried that I will die and she will be all alone. I am battling my own feelings with my father's sudden death and would love your assistance in helping my daughter process her feelings and how to deal with death and her feelings. I have no idea. Salam

Counselor

Answer


Died

As salamu ‘alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh my dear sister,

You have done well to find your feet on the path of Islam, and we pray that you will find from it the strength to make sense of what is happening now for you and your daughter, in sha ‘Allah.

Coping with death in the family is never easy for either adults or children, and even more so witnessing your father’s death in the manner in which you did, seemingly without reason or rhyme.

Bereavement of a loved tends to go through stages emotionally and psychologically. These unexpected emotions can overlap creating a sense of powerlessness and confusion. Sometimes, taking on responsibilities and using them as a means of focus delays the feeling of loss, and so what you are feeling now is probably a delayed reaction. How one reacts to the loss of a loved one differs depending on many factors including how one is raised, what emotional support one has, and the nature of one’s relationship with them when they were living. One can feel:

-Numb – One feels emotionally detached from what has happened; a kind of a shock.

-Disbelief – Unable to accept what has happened.

-Anger – with the loved one for “leaving you”, anger with anyone or anything that has disappointed you in relation to the loss of your father – even angry with Allah (SWT).

-Guilt/blame – about things you wished you had done in relation to your father when he was living, or guilty about not preventing the death, or that it was your fault.

-Relief – that your father no longer has to suffer the illness.

-Obsession – by continually thinking about your father, things he did and things you did together.

-Fear – that you will forget him when the bereavement process is coming to an end because you no longer grieve as you used to do, which in turn can lead to a feeling of guilt.

As mentioned before, these emotions can overlap and make you feel confused, powerless and depressed, which is probably what you are feeling now. So my dear, all in all, what you are going through is quite natural.

It is important to talk to someone about your feelings, no matter how silly you think those feelings are. You might be surprised how much it would help your daughter too.

nasheed (Islamic song) I love to listen to because to me it is pregnant with the continuum of life and death. One of my favorite which brings much healing is “Life Returns” by Dawud Wharnsby, especially the original version. Just as your daughter is a continuum of life, so are you, there together for a reason that only Allah (SWT) knows.

Do not force a child to behave like you, for surely, they have been created for a time which is different to your time.” ‘Ali Ibn ‘Abu Talib.

Salam


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About Hwaa Irfan

Late Hwaa Irfan, may her soul rest in peace, served as consultant, counselor and freelance writer. Her main focus was on traditional healing mechanisms as practiced in various communities, as opposed to Western healing mechanisms.

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