Coping with Death!

Birth and Death are the two absolute truths in life, there is no other side to these events. The birth in any family brings joy, and death brings sadness. In the case of birth, it is expected to be a natural progression after marriage. But for some couples giving birth to a child becomes a very complex event. But in the end, it is a joyful event.

Any death is a sad, dreadful event. Humans expect everything to happen sequentially. Humans hope that the parents will die first then the children and then grandchildren and so on. As we know, life is not so simplistic. Deaths can happen in any which way and are pre-decided by destiny. Though we know that such a catastrophe can happen, nobody is ever prepared for the break in the death sequence. In fact, we are not ready to accept death. Death is a daily occurrence in life, we directly get involved in very few of them. In India, when a death occurs, the body is generally cremated. In many communities, children and women do not go the cremation ground. We tend to shield them from death. This lack of mental preparation makes it challenging to handle death.

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This morning, I received an email from a close friend of mine, about the sudden death of his 35-year-old niece. She died in her sleep. The reason was a heart attack. The family is devastated. I immediately called him, and we talked about life. Both he and I have gone through cancer treatment. Though the onset was not significant in both our cases, it was a sudden reminder sent by destiny to both of us. It was a wakeup call saying that we are not infallible. Both of us are nearing 70 and have generally lived a happy life. But this out of turn death has really shaken me. I had met his niece a couple of times, and I remember her as a lively person. How can such things happen? How her parents, siblings, husband and other close ones must be feeling? I am not really sure that in such deaths, how even the excellent healer time will help.

Another event occurred a month and a half back, when a 42-year-old son of another close friend of mine, died of a heart attack. The son had a heart condition and was taking treatment under expert guidance. The therapy included some exercise. He was told to exercise in the hospital gym. While exercising he collapsed and died. People were around him, he was only 100 meters from the emergency room. He could not be taken there; he died before that.

It can happen that if the child were 4 or 6 years old, others might understand the grief caused by death. Some parents might feel that life is unjust to them and will think that all the sense of Godly support is over glorified; it will not be a surprise if they challenge the spiritual beliefs. When an adult dies, the person is still a child for the parent, whatever the age. Outsiders may not understand the shock of such deaths on parents. In such cases, it can so happen that the sympathy and focus may shift to the spouse or the children of the person who died. People sometimes fail to realise that the bond between the child and the parent is powerful, whatever the age. In such a case, the parent cannot be deprived of the right to grieve.

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When an adult dies, the life of his/her parents becomes more complicated as the parents are already going through a series of problems. Parents may be able to understand at some stage after the death that love is stronger than death, though it cannot stop the death from happening. One thing is sure, love ensures that attempts made by death to separate people from love do not succeed. Death cannot take away memories. Maybe life is stronger than death.

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Each religion, each philosophy has thought processes which provide solace to humans who go through extreme events like the death of an adult child. How far these are successful, I am not really sure. Such incidents have their own vagaries. It can happen that parents may not be involved in funeral arrangements for different reasons. Parents may not be in conditions to travel. Parents’ relations and interactions with the child’s spouse and the grandchildren may change, sometimes permanently. It is possible that they may be required to grieve commonly, with the spouse of the child and their other relatives. Private grief at that time may not happen. As seniors, parents may have to support younger members in the family, by keeping their own pain aside. Things can be tough.

Practical aspects will be dependent on whether the child was married or unmarried. In the case of an unmarried child, all the responsibility about banks, investments, properties, informing the employers will be with parents. The friends of the child will want to help, take it. Don’t forget that friends are also grieving and want to help. I am sure that the most challenging part will be how to handle the future. Every individual will do it differently, but a good idea will be to plan.

When I write a blog, I try to come to a conclusion at the end of the blog. But this blog is not a blog, in the real sense. I have just written down thoughts as they came to my mind. I pray to HIM to give strength to the family and friends to somehow cope with such stressful events. I also pray to the almighty, that fewer families are required to face such catastrophes!

Sudden ….

Some things happen gradually, and other things happen suddenly. What is reasonable, gradual or sudden? It depends on circumstances and events. In sporting events like hockey and football, there are sudden death goals. Till the last moment in the game, it is possible that team A is controlling the match but is not able to score the coveted goal. But at an opportune moment team, team B gets a chance to score that goal! The goal scored causes “sudden death”! The only word to explain such an event is destiny!

Many such events happen in life. We think that these are sudden events, but not all are sudden. Heart attack in sporadic cases is sudden. A friend ten years senior to me is a retired Air Force pilot. Once we were discussing heart attack, he said, “ Heart attack is a failure of hydraulic systems in different ways. Aeroplane and heart are very similar. In the aeroplanes only one hydraulic system needs to be checked while flying; crews can check all other systems on the ground. When a plane crashes, it is either due to pilot error or maintenance failure.”

I checked on the net and found that there are very few situations where death is instantaneous. The so-called sudden events always have some history in the background. The situation is getting developed which we miss out. In the case of health, we miss out on body signals. In case of relationships, we miss out on indications. In the case of professional work, there are precedents known, and histories are available about failures. But we think that those are sudden failures, which they are not.

Years back there was an event where I was deeply involved. I family friend called me, I was in the office. She said, “Please drop everything and come to my home immediately.” I rushed. She said that mother of her son’s girlfriend had called. The couple fought, and it appeared that the girl tried to immolate herself. But my friend said, “ This is sudden, and  it is impossible. They have broken off more than six months back. How can this happen?” I took some action by which would get some time. I made the Son “vanish” or sent him to a location not easy to find. The act was to buy some time if the police started looking for him. By that time, her husband came back from office. Her husband and I went to that girl’s home. The girl had locked up our man’s scooter to a pillar using a chain, proving that the boy had visited them. On discussion, we found out they were regularly meeting for the last six months even after the breakup. They had exchanged letters and gifts. Somehow we managed to settle the problem. But there was nothing “Sudden” as my friend had said. The boy’s family was unaware of their meetings, but the girls family knew everything.

Accidents do happen suddenly. In such cases, sometimes we get time, sometimes we don’t. US Airways flight 1549 was climbing up after take off. That afternoon’s events were at 3.24 clearance, 3.25 take off, at 3:27:11 there was a significant bird hit. At 3:27:33 the pilot declared MAYDAY, a major emergency. At 3.31 water landing in Hudson River in New York. The expert pilot Sullenberger and his co-pilot managed to land safely, and all 155 people survived. Could they have done something differently? I don’t think so. The expert panel had suggested the pilots could have landed at an airport based on the evidence available. But it was proven that there is reaction time to be considered in case of such emergencies. Humans take time to absorb the shock and react. After the bird hit, for about 20 seconds the pilots were stunned and could not respond. These 20 seconds converted the event into “sudden” catastrophe variety. Luckily there were no deaths.

A 42-year-old son of a friend died recently. He had some medical history and was going through rehabilitation under medical guidance. He was doing some exercise in the hospital premises, about 100 meters from a trauma care facility. But he got such a massive attack, one of those rare events, that he could not be taken across for treatment. This death is a sudden event, and there is nothing humans can do about it except accept the fact that the event has occurred.

Some unforeseen events give us joy, for example winning a lottery ticket. Nobody can predict the winning of the lottery, and it can provide humans with great pleasure. The death of the man is also a sudden event which brings extreme sadness in our lives. As explained the tiff of the lovers was not sudden but was unexpected for the boy’s family.

Falling in love in life is one of the most pleasant events in life. This event is also described as Love at First Sight! Such an event occurs in case of very few lucky people.

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Consider the earthquakes. An earthquake is an event which occurs suddenly. The above diagram indicates the science behind earthquakes. This science is not yet perfect and even the scientists who are trying to track when an earthquake can occur, are still unable to do so. For you and me it is a sudden event, and all that we can do is pray! Volcanoes, Landslides also come under the same category as earthquakes, and we can hope that the eruption is not too severe!

Lately, a new man-made thing which is causing real worries, is Terrorist Attack! These have started the world over in late ’70 s and are unexpected events. There are many things happening world over like illegal migrations, the tyranny of dictators which lead to such attacks. Even the best of the security majors are not able to prevent them entirely. These attacks come under sudden category!

Another pleasant sudden event is Inheritance. Some people are lucky to get it, but most don’t.

Friends, my experience is that the “Sudden” events in majority cases, are not pleasant ones. Why does this happen? Is it because we always assume that bad things will never happen in our lives? There is a saying “Hope for the best but be prepared for the worst”! What does it mean? It means that we must have a positive attitude but be prepared for a bad outcome. But we don’t follow this idiom. By doing this, we manage not to get entangled in situations that are “Sudden”!

Cheers! I suddenly remembered that I was expected somehwere two hours back!

Shifting Milestones!

I was chatting with my cousin who is 72, three years older than me. They had taken a ten-day holiday to Vietnam and Cambodia. He said the youngest person in their group was 65! Of course, 65 is young, today! In our life, we have different milestones like births and deaths, education and work, marriage and children and so on. But there has been a tradition to celebrate when people reached certain age milestones like 50 or 60 or 75. Celebrating the hundred-year milestone is a rarity even today.  

When I was in school, celebrating the 50th birthday was a big event, and 60th was a significant. The importance of age milestones in our lives is decided by the average lifespan in society! Average life expectancy till the ’50s in the last century was well below 40, before 80’s it was below 50. It crossed 60’s in the year 2000! Currently, it is 67 and expected to cross 70 in the year 2050! Use this link to get details. 

http://www.me-jaa.com/October2015/LifeTable.pdf 

Now that the boring statistics are done, they were essential to know the meaning of celebration of 50th and 60th birthday while I was in school! Achieving these age milestones was indeed an event worth celebrating. When we talk of average expectancy it means the average age at which the people are expected to die; the people in families who can afford to eat healthier food, get better medical facilities and a cleaner environment, lived longer. It was no surprise to know that in my family, there were five deaths between 1976 and 1980; only my grandfather died at 89, all others were around sixty or below. These figures generally matched of the life expectancy of that period or were slightly above expectancy level. 

This indicates that the life expectancy in the type of families I have mentioned above has definitely gone up to 70 plus now. Better medical facilities of current times, have increased cure rates of cancers and heart attacks, it won’t be a surprise if the expectancy age crosses 80! Wow, this is extraordinarily rapid progress in a short period of 20 years. What could be the reasons other than those already mentioned? One definite and significant reason is the much-maligned social media! The FB’s and WA’s of this world have definitely helped. What the media has done is that one could locate old friends and foes alike! One could identify ex’s easily in the privacy of their own accounts.

In the old age in modern society, the first phase of the post-retirement period passes with fun. You really don’t have to wake up early every day and go to the office. (You can sleep in the afternoon too!) Being away from the grind is fun. At the same time, you may want to do things for which never got enough time. You travel, you meet friends and see places. But as the years pass, there can be some limitations which may come up with some deterioration of health. This is where the problems start coming up. Younger people from the family may not have time for you; maybe they live in different cities or countries. Not everybody can keep themselves happily or productively busy. Then you start feeling cut off! This is where social media has helped, provided it is used correctly.

When people start becoming lonely, they lose interest in their lives, and some even lose the will to continue to live! Social media has helped a great deal in last ten to fifteen years to provide the reason to get keen to meet “friends”, it has increased enthusiasm in people to chat/talk with each other. You always have something to look forward to when you wake up every day! Social media shares with us an enormous variety of music, songs, articles and videos!  

How did social media really help? 

  1. Friends 
    1. It has never been easier to make friends than it was before. Just a few decades ago it was pretty tough to connect with people unless you were the overly outgoing type able to make conversation with anyone at a party. 
    2. The rise of mobile phones helped change this, connecting people in a new way, but then social networks sprang up, and the whole idea of friendship changed again.  
    3. It’s entirely possible to have hundreds of friends on Facebook. They may not be friends you know on a personal level and spend time within the real world on a weekly basis. But they’re friends nonetheless. There are several people I consider friends who I have never met — in fact, I may never meet them — but that doesn’t lessen the connection we have thanks to social networks. 
  2. Empathy 
    1. Each of us spends a little too long talking about ourselves on social networking sites, even if we’re casually surfing. Which is perfectly natural. We’re sharing our lives — the ups and downs, the twists and turns — with people we think will care. 
    2. They generally do care and will tell you so. Friends will listen to what you have to say, and help you deal with any problems you may be facing. Your near  and dear ones do not have time, you interact with newer ones! 
    3. The point is that by all of us sharing our experiences, both good and bad, on social networking sites, we’re able to empathise with each other. A friend may have gone through a similar ordeal that you are currently going through, and they will be able to help you get through it. 
  3. Speedy communication 
    1. I really don’t have to say about this. It is a revolutionary change and is really inexpensive. 
  4. In touch with the world 
    1. You remain in touch with the world through most of the times virtually. Such relations honestly are not very close but between shallow contact and good (virtual) contact with the outside world and latter option is always better. 
  5. Building relationships 
    1. There is no doubting that social networking sites can lead to the breaking up of relations. But there is another side to the story, which is that people are moving onto other, perhaps better, relationships. Social networks can put you (back) in touch with people who you have lots in common with, and that common ground is often the starting point for long-lasting relationships. 
    2. As painful as breakups can be, they can sometimes be the right thing for all concerned. What’s to say that the new relationship, founded on the steps of Facebook, isn’t the one that will last? Even if it doesn’t turn into a spectacular coupling, it could be the friendship that is needed at the time. Which has to be a positive thing. After all even virtual friendship also keeps positivity. 
  6. Finding common ground in an open society 
    1. As previously mentioned, social networking sites can help you find people you share interests with. Facebook, for example, asks you to list who and what you are interested in right from the start. This makes it much easier to find common ground with other users. 
    2. Keeping key personal information private is necessary, but sharing your likes and dislikes, interests and obsessions, and thought and views actually contributes to an open society. 

Social media when used correctly is a companion, free of cost and with much fewer efforts. In 2018 we have read about security breaches on social media, but checks do evolve over a period. It might be a good idea not share things that matter, e.g. your bank details etc. But there is no harm in publishing your likes for dramas and books, hiking and playing musical instruments. You will make more friends. You get wide publicity to show and share your talent with others, free! Blogging is a classic example of this. 

This is going to definitely increase life expectancy in society. There will be more and more people celebrating the age-related milestones, past 70 and 80. All the time there are going to shifting milestones. I will end up with a small suggestion on my favourite topic.  

Friends, by all means, celebrate 70th / 75th   and 80th birthday. It is a matter of celebration. If you are going to spend Rs.1/ lac on the party, try and prune the budget to say Rs. Ten thousand. Give away remaining Rs.90000/. Ask your friends and dear ones to donate the money they were going to spend on you, to charities! Azim Premji has set an example in his son’s marriage. He gave the amount equivalent to collective gift amount given by friends and dear ones, to charities! Thank you, Premji for setting a great example.     

 

 

 

 

 

Declog your Mind!

Clogging and declogging are the terms used by Cardiac Experts and Plumbers. The blocks formed in arteries reduce the flow of blood and depending on severity can cause the heart attack. Similarly, when we don’t take care of the home or city plumbing system, the pipelines clog and cause problems. At some stage both need to be attended to or there can be catastrophic results.

But we forget that same logic applies to our mind. When our mind is clogged, we don’t think properly. Different thoughts keep on coming in our mind in a cyclic manner and we are not able to attend to the problem that needs urgent attention. We are simply not able to concentrate.

 

You know the terms thinking, worrying, stressing, freaking out — call it whatever you want. I call it preoccupied mind. And with what? I feel that 99% of our thoughts are useless. Many people think that they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices in their mind. Many moons back a friend had a breakup. We were both young. We had full night sessions on what to do next. On the third night when we met, I asked my friend what he really wants to do. We thought that we had discussed a lot but had never come up with any plan or conclusion about what to do next. Most of the time the friend was ranting how he was cheated, and he will do this and that! I asked him a blunt question, “Is there any chance of reconciliation? Has the lady really cheated you?” He then did not speak for a few minutes. Then he said, “I am a damn fool; the situation is neither her fault nor mine! Why am I thinking in such a harsh way?” Then again, he became quiet for ten minutes. Really concentrated and said, “The subject matter is over! I will let go! She will remain close to my heart all my life; what a fool I was to think about her the way I did”! Friends, this was the effect of declogging of mind!

Clogged mind creates a lot of stress. The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another. Pragmatism believes that a mind is a tool. Your mind should work for you, not against you. People who don’t master their mind, don’t believe it’s possible to do so. They will always keep saying, “I can’t help but think of these things.”

Well, you can stop thinking on a subject but with enough practice. It’s a skill. You have the ability to decide what you think. Or, you can choose NOT to think.

What is the downside of thinking too much? I will tell you my example. When I am writing, some thoughts are very clear in my mind. I am able to complete my basic blog writing in a couple of hours, then I spend an hour on proofreading, refining, fine-tuning, changing a few things. I generally do the latter part, early morning. When I get up in the morning after my quota of sleep, there are not many thoughts in mind other than completing the blog. My mind is fresh. Since I get up early, I feel a little hungry. But I plan what I am going to eat on the previous night. I don’t like to overload my mind to decide what to eat! Sometimes, I do do the basic writing also, early in the morning. (See my mind wavered a bit and wrote “do” twice) For me, this time is quite productive.

When I was working full-fledged, my early mornings were used to writing important emails or creating documents. Sometimes, I used this time to read important things received on the previous day. I will share with you a very important experience. During a business telephone meeting with a customer, years back, one of the officers, from the customer side, who was close to us, took a very awkward stance. This would cause us a financial hit for no fault of ours. At the end of the meeting, he also told me that he was being transferred to another country. I was upset and wrote a very nasty mail. I read it a couple of times and saved it as a draft, instead of sending it. I slept over the meeting. When I read the draft mail again early morning with a de-clogged mind, I realized that the mail would not serve any purpose, looking at the long-term relationship. I created an internal mail on how to avoid such situations in future. I deleted the draft and sent our friend a two-liner mail. In the mail, I thanked him and also registered our mild protest against the decision.

खयालोंमें is an appropriate word in Hindi, which fits our state of mind when our mind is clogged. We really don’t know what we are thinking about. Our mind whirs like a motor and jumps from one thought to another and to another! But we need to be pragmatic on how to handle this!

While writing this particular paragraph my mind was खयालोंमें, and I was thinking of our groups’ lunch next month, the work to be done in the bank today and about a probable business meeting tomorrow. When we are in खयालोंमें state, we need to pinch ourselves and ask “Are you back to reality? Do you feel your eyes are reading the letters on your screen? Do you feel your phone in your hand? Are you thinking about how to complete the blog?”

When should we think at all is a question that comes to mind these days. With waterfall type information flow that each individual gets and new entities like WA groups, FB groups and so on have formed. To me, these are mainly for entertainment or even worse, time-pass. What happens should be treated at the same value; if one is an admin he should try and keep a semblance of control. Do your work seriously, don’t take yourself seriously!  Don’t think too much about it! Unless you are personally involved in correcting status of the world, leave it a that. Use your mind for better things and pursuits.

You use your mind, and don’t let it be the other way around. Now, keep using that brain of yours. It is the best tool we have, make use of it! As my friend Vijay said the other day, your brain gets sharpened by more use; use it in the right place and time! I hope you don’t MIND this bit of advice from me!

My friend Dhananjay shared the link of this Marathi Poem मन वढाळ वढाळ …….  by Bahinabai Choaudhary, which is very appropriate for this blog! Thanks Dhananjay!

https://www.aathavanitli-gani.com/Song/Man_Vadhay_Vadhay

 

What to do with galloping Technology?

Exponential

The curve above is representative of how technology is developing at a breakneck speed. The title is neither a rhetorical question nor a controversial statement. This thought came to my mind while I was reading about the galloping speed of progress in many areas the humans are making. In the movie “Back to the Future” (1985) the person goes back to the year 1955 using a time machine. The differences he sees are interesting but not surprising. There was nothing exceptionally different or path-breaking in those 30 years. Had the movie been produced in 2015, the time machine would have taken the person to 1985, with 30-year logic. That change would have been exceptional for the person to guess!  What is the meaning of life with no PC’s, no Cell phones, no Internet, no WA, no FB? The person would not believe that life only 30 years back was so different.  

Just imagine that a human being was transported from 12000 years back, pre-farming era, to the year 1500. The cities, the carriageways, farming equipment would be such a big change that this person suddenly exposed to so many changes, might die of shock. A person from the year 1500, will be reasonably shocked to be taken to the year 1750 but he won’t die! How much change can human mind accept and absorb at a time? The rate of change is really galloping in the recent past. Change from the year 1500 to the year 1750 and the change from 1750 to 2015 cannot be compared. Change of scene that we see in the year 2015 compared to the year 1985 is really vast. But the human mind will not be able to accept changes from 1750 to 2015, the person could also simply die! It initially took 12000 plus years for such deadly changes to occur but later it took only 250 plus years for similar deadly changes. We can call such changes as “Deadly Change” (DC).

This comparison tells us that the rate of change is dependent on how advanced the society is at that time, it is the datum level that is important. For obvious reasons, we see terrific changes happening in the Bay area in the USA. We know that such change was happening in the area of Electronics, Computers and the Internet; but along with these changes, it appears that this area may also surge ahead in Car manufacturing as indicated by Tesla! We really don’t know where Apple and Google are the car domain but one thing is sure, they have technical wherewithal, passion and money. All changes are not DC type but the rate of change is galloping.  

If such changes have happened in the first 18 years of 21st century itself, what is lying ahead, we simply do not know. The changes that happened between the year 2000 to the year 2015 could get squeezed to seven years between the year 2015 and year 2022! Enormous changes can happen initially in 7 seven years, then in 3 years and then one year and then one month and then one day! Friends you may think that Pramod is dreaming and writing a fictional scenario of how things will change. But I get a feeling that changes that are going to happen in future will take an exponential curve.

The curve shown above displays the rapid speed at which things are moving.

  1. The rate of change can be represented up to the year 2000 by the slope at value –1 on X axis! What we are going to get in future will be slope after that! The high growth slope at +1 value is due to Microsoft, Google, Facebook coming in the picture during that time period between years 2000 and 2005. 
  2. Our historical perspective has been up to –1 value so we keep on thinking and expecting that the change will always be gradual and slow!  
  3. We are “Old people” of the gone era and I am talking of people in 50’s too! We are stubborn and we say that change can happen only so fast! How can change happen exponentially?  

But something is already happening in the background; you, me and the general public think that AI is something that is shown in Sci-Fi movies. It is for graduate students to take up the projects as a requirement, it is not real life! When we talk of AI, we always think of Robots; Robots are containers for AI stuff. AI is the brain and Robots is the body. When we talk of AI, we always think of computers but do not forget that another area which is making progress in leaps and bounds is biotechnology. The progress in this area is the result of tremendous progress made in the last 30 years; along with this terrific progress is made in the medical field too! These technologies are going to be the drivers of rapid change.

All this lead leads to a question of how much is the shelf life of technology? To me, some will evolve slowly and the concept will continue for a long time. For example, aeroplanes. Aeroplanes have been there for more than hundred years, only major has been jet engine! But no other path-breaking stuff is visualized. The telephone also has been around for a similar time but this technology has also changed slowly. The change now is faster after cell phones arrived on the scene. But now cell phone is really evolving in a different animal, fast! It is getting converted into a personal tool which might do everything for you, from phones to camera, to photo repository, to the music system, to chat system, to a chequebook and a bank! This change has really happened fast in the last 15 years and what form and shape it will take, only God knows. 

Biotechnology and medical fields are progressing rapidly! Last hundred years have seen some major breakthroughs in reining in epidemics. People dying in hundreds of thousands or in millions due to illnesses,  was a norm, in old days! There was plague, there was black death. The systems and the doctors just could not contain them and the way was you die or you run away elsewhere! Medicines and cures were, more prayer and faith-based than science-based. Last fifty years have seen the dramatic change in this scenario; when AIDs became rampant, doctors found basic details about it, in 2 years and now they know that it is an Auto Immune thing and per se is not as dangerous as it looks. A person with AIDs dies with other infections! Had AIDs appeared 500 years back, half the then population of the world could have been wiped out. Ebola came but was reasonably well controlled, quickly!  

This speed is good for humans but technology changes in day to day stuff can be difficult to handle with galloping speed. We have seen in front of our eyes, pagers come and go, so did fax! Cameras with the film are a history and music pieces can be composed in two different continents and a song gets created in the third continent.  

Some of these changes, humans will handle well and others can be tough to absorb. The working population will have to get themselves reskilled every ten years (am I too optimistic?) or perish. You can’t become a banker and a chartered accountant and work lifelong in the same career. Block Chain technology may eliminate such concepts! Experts may make a lot of money by the time they are 40 and may want to retire! And do what? Some young friends of ours are already contemplating this scenario.

Average Deepak or a John did not have face Cancer or Heart Attack because he never lived that long. With better products, diagnostics tools,  and cures, better solutions from biotechnology, the lifespan of Deepak and John is increasing rapidly. With better cures, these dangerous diseases are also more controllable and many times curable. Now more people die of old age instead of dying due to illnesses.  

Friends, I am very positive that humans will find a way to handle these galloping changes but some thoughts and concepts will change on their heads! Don’t be surprised if you meet a banker friend of yours after ten years and find him growing organic farms or has become potter of beautiful ceramics! We always find our path, some find it quickly, some find it late and some don’t find at all! Darwin’s theory of “Survival of the fittest” is one thing that will never change!  

 

 

 

Who is the best doctor for you?

During a discussion about a surgery of a 91-year-old gentleman, a question was raised, how will his body handle this surgery? His physician was confident and his surgeon, a urinary expert, said he will perform laser surgery. The surgery was performed and a couple of days later the gentleman is recovering well. His surgery team also included an anesthetist. The surgery was nothing complex and for a younger person it would have been a routine surgery. Due to age the situation was a little more complex. But this team apparently was good, confident and more importantly must have handled such complications due to age, before. This last factor is very important.

Our body is a complex organism, on top of that, every individuals body behaves differently, reacts differently. When this surgery was discussed during a conversation with someone else, not from Pune, that person asked a question. Why with similar issues a person from their family was not being operated upon? This is a very valid question, but it also depends on the team of doctors who look after the patient. Such laser surgeries are performed in various cities now. This is not about competence of the team but there is a possibility that this team has never performed such surgeries on old patients. This other person is 80 plus and is suffering from the same issue. The surgeon may be confident, but physician may have different views. But the question is why this option is not even discussed about this patient. Performing or not performing any procedure will depend on different parameters but the most important is specific experience of the team of doctors in that area.

Another person I know about has been having heart issues since last several years. Recently when the person had major health crisis, the person was taken to a large hospital. Looking at the criticality, the experts decided to perform angioplasty as a last resort. This plasty improved the patient’s health many folds. The question arises why this procedure was not done several years back; this problem has been existing for years, but doctors in those times took a decision that angioplasty can not be done. Again, it boils down to the experience of the team to perform such procedures or it is about their opinion and decision not to perform angioplasty in that situation.

A friend of ours has been having health issues, she is same age as me. She was taking treatment from a physician. Once the friend said that she wanted to get herself checked by our physician. Checking was done, all tests were performed. Body parameters from previous tests and current tests were similar. But her previous physician had told her that everything was hunky dory though it was not. The results were so obviously out of range, even a non-medical guy could understand that she needed more control on her parameters. Why did this happen? I am sure that the previous doctor also had his views or may be his treatment is different. So, treatment again depends on the knowledge, experience of the doctors who treat you.

My father died in the year 1980 of a massive heart attack. My nephew Atul, who is a well-known physician in Pune, was a medical student at that time. Sometime recently, we were discussing about my father’s death. Atul said, “Mama, in those times the doctor’s knowledge was limited. Testing methods were also limited. So, the doctors could not judge the seriousness of his problems. I distinctly remember that he had back pain and was quite uneasy for 4/5 days before the attack.” Similar was the case of my father in law. He died a couple of years earlier than my father. He had a heart attack, was hospitalized and came home after 10 days. A few weeks after that, he was told during the follow up visit, that he was now hail and hearty and could now lead normal life. Next day early morning he died of a massive heart attack. Heart attacks are notorious for their behaviour but sometimes it also depends the doctor who is treating, his experience in handling specific cases. Was it a case of wrong judgment by the doctor?

Does it mean that our treatment and our health is based on luck? No definitely not. Doctors have good knowledge. But an individual patient may have some variant of a disease. If the treating doctor has never come across such variants, things can become complex and tricky. Most of the time, we may not take an opportunity for second opinion, even if the disease lingers on. It is sometimes good idea to take second opinion. By doing this we are just dividing the risk.

Honestly speaking, I also do not know how to handle situations discussed. Whenever required go to a good doctor. But one way will be go by the doctor’s reputation.  I know of a friend who decided to go take treatment from a certain doctor because he was near their home. There are far superior doctors available in Pune. Once you find a good doctor who could be a physician, stick to him and go back to the concept of “family doctor”, like we used to have GP’s in olden days. He or she will be your regular doctor, will know about your health in details. Any other health issue from different areas, should be treated through him by different specialists. They will work in tandem and chances of you getting superior treatment improve. Of course, the best doctor is NO doctor! But this can be only in our wish list!

 

 

Ignore body signals at your own peril!

Medical Illiteracy or Ignore body signals at your own peril! I was in two minds about the title for this blog. But the second option prevailed.

Not all of us are doctors by training and not all of us could have access to basic medical information, at least, during pre-internet days! It’s a highly specialized field. But in our day to day life health conditions keep on changing, as you grow older. Some changes can be discrete and some may be obvious. In our own and families interest, we should take care of having basic information and knowledge and decodify the signals our body sends.

Since this is a current ongoing medical event, I am not sharing the names, as I usually do! Yesterday, in my office I was talking to my colleague. Suddenly she said let me make an urgent call. She called and as the call progressed she sounded quite worried and anguished. After the call I asked her what happened? Her brother was not keeping well for ¾ days and she had called to find out how he was doing! She came to know all the details only after the call. He felt weak in the office; since he is diabetic and with BP issues, he asked his colleague to fetch a chocolate for him, to overcome low sugar issue, if any! He felt slightly better but decided to go home as he was uncomfortable. When he tried to use his scooter, he could not use his left hand properly; he felt very low strength in his left hand. Next day he saw a doctor who gave him some medicines and asked him to run tests. Sunday, he saw an eye specialist as he was feeling unease in the left eye!  The doctor indicated some distortion around the left eye. All signals were obvious but our friend probably lacked knowledge about the effects. I immediately coordinated an appointment with a neurologist. In next two hours he was hospitalized in a CCU. I shudder to think if my colleague had not made that call!

I will share many more such events but this particular event has made me very uneasy. It is just by chance, that I overheard a conversation and then got the wheels moving fast! There were specific indications, the person or his family did not understand the details of what was happening but can they also not understand that there was something going wrong with the body. How to inculcate this discipline in the whole family? These things are never taught in schools but these need to be picked up from someone or somewhere. A human being generally does not have detailed knowledge of most subjects other than his own subject. But health is one area which is common to all humans whether they are kings or paupers! I feel that this learning be made mandatory in school curriculum, so that people come to know basic symptoms regarding the emergency events, like heart attack, stroke and others.

In olden days there was the system of GP or general practitioners. GP’s were family friends, advisors, mentors for the whole family. I have known of GP’s who have treated four generations from families. For anything and everything related to health and not related to health too, the families would take advise of GP’s. So, they knew  most of the things about people in the family. If required, GP’s would ask the people to go to experts. In today’s times of no GP’s, I feel that a family should be going to a fixed physician and do things as per his/her advice and suggestions. Since our friend did not have “GP”, the doctors whom he saw, could not guide him properly.

It can be a good idea to guide people into basics of health management and emergency management. Basic training about patient resuscitation is one aspect but such emergencies don’t come so frequently. More than that, knowledge about basic symptoms is most essential. This will reduce time between symptoms and start of treatment. My friend Shashi has a history of stroke. A few months back when he had very high fever and felt faint, he immediately got himself checked from experts. This gave him peace of mind.

I will share one event with you to explain what I mean by lack of basic knowledge in other areas. A professor of arts with a doctorate, drove his car for two days. You will ask me what is so special about it? One of the tappets in the engine had broken and he drove the car with a lot of noise. To understand this, he did not need to know that tappet was broken but he only needed to understand that something was broken and was making loud noise. So, he should not drive the car! Period. But no! He drove on for two days accompanied by big noise! Is it so difficult to comprehend that there was something wrong with the car and not what is wrong with the car?

Two things generally happen. One is signals are simply not understood and sometimes signals are ignored. Our friend did not understand the gravity of the signals, the body was sending. However, I will tell you of someone, a few years elder than me. He apparently had good health, outwardly. He used to go to gym regularly. One day he went out, after  he came back he said that he was a bit tired and would rest for 15 min. 10 minutes later, he was dead due to cardiac arrest. He was diabetic but values were controlled. He was going to the gym regularly. Then why did this happen? When his papers were checked, the values were never good; he was informing his son, who lives abroad,  that everything was ok. He went to the gym every day; he always drove the 500 meters distance! Did minor exercise and chatted with friends, tea, have fried stuff and smoking followed. What he did was not accepting the true body condition, which further deteriorated with wrong food and smoking.

Let me assure you that our body and brain are very sharp in understanding the signals that are generated in our eco system. In young age we start knowing who our parents are, in adulthood we catch the right love signals. As we grow older, we know how to find better opportunities in jobs and in business. All this is done by capturing the signals, the indications that are emanating in our surroundings. But why can’t we catch our body signals which tell about our health? In life we master various things without formal training. Then why we cannot do it about our own health? Is it due to thought process that Cancer, Heart Attack, Strokes happen to someone else? Sudden deaths occur mostly in accidents, most other deaths  are because of ignoring the signal system created by HIM! So please keep track of these signals, it may be twitching of an eye, shaking of hand while holding a glass, heaviness in body especially on only one side, sudden sweating and so on. But at least “create” for yourself a GP system and take his/her advise as we grow 40 plus!

Cheers! Life is too beautiful to be wasted by ignoring signals from the world’s best design, “Our Body”!

Life’s Speed breakers- Reblogged!


This is a blog written by me in 2015; today for some reason I felt that its a good idea to reblog the same!

Life patterns have changed for many in my generation in a way, at least I had never expected. In our parents’ generation 58/60 was the age for retirement. In those days most people retired and quietly went into the sunset. Deaths within a few years of retirement were very common, one of the reasons could have been there was nothing to look forward to! This was true in case of males, but women somehow remained busy with household chores, helping their daughters/ daughter in laws and grandchildren.

Our generation has seen things from bullock carts to electric/hybrid cars, snail mail (भारतीय डाक सेवा) to WhatsApp and god knows what in future! Going has been generally good. In our generations people try to work as long as possible because of reasonably good health, opportunities and will! When in life things are following a normal course, one tends to forget the human fallibility. Heart attacks, cancers, dementia, and accidents always happen in other homes not in my home! So we tend to breeze through and generally are in cruise control or auto pilot mode. We tend to forget that there can be speed breakers in our lives. I am writing about how I “flew” over a speed breaker, had rough landing and managed to go into “cruise control” mode again.

 Why this blog?

In life we have to face difficulties starting from family difficulties, to financial difficulties, health difficulties and so on. I thought I should share my experience with others to let them know that these are surmountable provided we keep a positive attitude in tough situations. Of course HIS blessings are the first thing you should have!! Which of above mentioned difficulties are tough to handle, everybody will have different opinion but in my opinion the above mentioned sequence is in reducing degree of difficulties. It is always good to have financial soundness plus decent insurance coverage. This puts your mind at rest about the expenses involved.

These tough times could be overcome mainly due family support and positive attitude. (By family I mean the family, extended family and friends) Probably the saying, “Tough get going when times are tough” is very apt here. During my treatment phase I have seen a patient go down as he did not have good family support. He required hospitalization and his wife never came to meet him! She was afraid of hospitals; he never recovered. So when there is a critical event in your home, it is not only you but your whole close family goes through tough times. Even if one cog in the system is weak, handling the same can be very very difficult. I was lucky we had no weak links!!

I have chosen to give this date wise activity to explain how my family and I took quick decisions to move fast with treatment. As they say Time (and Cancer) wait for nobody!!

The Story

I was continuing with my profession and was 64 years of age, in November 2013. Though my life was not very high speed life, it was reasonably busy. I was cruising in my life with manageable health issues and my mind set was as per previously mentioned thoughts, in short I thought I was infallible.

One fine day, I woke up with a squeaky voice (in retrospect, voice quality had changed a couple of weeks before) and thought maybe some oily foods or cooler weather is causing issues. I went to my ENT friend Vijay for the check-up; he suggested usual gargling and minor medication and said “call me when you get well!” After a couple of more check-ups and medications, including steroids Vijay said some more check-ups are needed. I was guided to Dr. Sant;

1st Dec 2013

On that day there was some health issue for our new born grand-daughter Rhea; I told Jaya and Priya that I will go alone for the check-up. I almost decided to go alone but Deepti insisted that Raju will go with me! Check-up was done using Stroboscope and Dr.  Sant said, Pramod I wish my diagnosis is wrong, but I am yet to make incorrect diagnosis. “You have cancerous growth on your left vocal cord and that is the reason for change in voice”! What a speed breaker! I bumped my head on the roof, was almost thrown on the wind screen! From Dr. Sant’s office, called Jaya and discussed. Called Dr. Atul (my nephew and physician) and immediately at 8 pm we went for CAT scan to check the spread, if any. Luckily no spread! On the way, ate something; diagnosis did not prevent me from getting hungry!

3rd Dec 2013

Second meeting with Dr. Sant and he had con call with Dr. Vijay and Dr. Bokil, Onco surgeon. Plan decided. 7th Dec Excisional Biopsy by Dr. Sant at Sahyadri Hospital.

7th Dec 2013

On 6th evening got myself admitted in the hospital, again Raju was great help! He stayed with me for the night. At admission counter, clerk said please get the patient; I said I am the patient! She was surprised, maybe I looked impatient!! At night, doctors wanted to take X-Ray. I walked out of the room towards X Ray area but the helper came rushing and said I must use wheelchair! I said why; he said that was the protocol and besides that doctors will blow him out if I don’t use wheelchair! Biopsy done on 7th, looks like everything went as expected. Was back in the room with major pain in the throat. Was back home in the evening, again Raju and Deepti took us home.

10th Dec 2013

The results declared, Dr. Sant passed with flying colours, cancer was confirmed.

14th Dec 2013

After discussions with Dr. Bokil, went to Ruby Hall to finalize radiation stuff with Dr. Maiya, Radiation Oncologist. Plan fixed. Dr. Maiya had told us at the beginning of the treatment, that in cancer treatment, upto 60% cure is due to family and positivity; balance 40% consists of medicines, doctors and equipment. If one remains positive, medicines and treatment are more effective.

  • Immunotherapy intravenous weekly- total 8 doses
  • 34 radiations

20th Dec 2013

First dose of immunotherapy given in ICU (just in case) and the radiations to be started within 2/3 days. Feeding tube inserted by Dr. Bokil through the nose for later use.

23rd Dec 2013

First radiation given; same day moved to new home next to Priya for easy management of the baby and grandpa!

Fell into a routine of leaving for Ruby hall 6.20 am daily.

24th January 2014

Radiation put on hold due to cough and minor fever. General weakness felt as Steroids, Antibiotics and drugs to check blood/sugar taking its toll! Sugar level checked thrice a day. Difficulty in swallowing solid food starts. A couple of feeds of liquid diet started. Body rash in head, neck and on back but manageable. Throat pain begins and so do pain killers; followed by cough bouts especially at night. I was not hospitalised but was at home right through.

2nd February 2014

Switched over 100% to liquid formula for adults; there are two of us on liquid formula in the house, grandfather competing with grand-daughter! For me it was delta change of switching from solid diet to liquid diet but for Jaya it was a logistics nightmare. Giving me first feed at 5 am so that we could leave home for Radiation at 6.20 am. Needed eight feeds to keep me going and in the whole process I lost only about 3 kgs. (Atul said weight goes down upto 10/15 kgs sometimes) My last daily feed was at 11 pm. Logistics for this feed was 15 minutes preparation, 15 minutes for feed and 15 minutes cleaning the stuff. Eight such feeds in a day plus tablets three times a day was also a feed because I could not swallow!! Plus managing day to day chores at home!! Phew! Plus managing phone calls, visitors (we had requested all to differ visits) How Jaya managed!!

16th February

Jaya had a very strong migraine attack and had to be hospitalised. On her way to hospital she called Ashwini, who rushed. She and Priya managed last couple of days of my feeds and otherwise!

20th February

Final radiation treatment!

Family Support

During all this process Dr. Gauri our niece came and stayed with us for 5/6 days. Priya was trying her best to support even while nursing the baby. Our son Sachin came from USA and stayed for two weeks. Last three days of the treatment was logistics nightmare. Jaya collapsed due to all the stress. She had an attack of relief migraine. Jaya went to hospital and checked in like hotel check in, got herself treated for 3 days, paid her bill and came back! Who managed me during this period? Our other niece Ashwini rushed at 1 hr notice and managed with some help from Priya. Who managed Jaya, God and family!! Of course Raju and Deepti were there to support all the time. Dada and Pushpatai was there for moral support. Situ, Ashwini and Anish came so did Mai & Nilkanthrao. Jaya’s brother Nanda a great support for logistics. Nikhil & Sushil were also a great help.

Friends Support

Jayprakash took Jaya to hospital when she had migraine attack, Sanjay came and met. Sharya, Ram Prabhu, Prakash Raykar came from Mumbai to meet. Chandru, Bhave, Bhide, Dada Parulekar, Santosh, Ajit, Pakya Nirgudakar (in spite of his own issues) barged in. Vijay & Madhuri came down from Mumbai. Jaya requested, Sudip, Rufus and many others to differ visit as she was getting overwhelmed! But Ranjith had come from Australia so came in with Rufus. Saurabh dropped in from Mumbai. There were so many emails, WhatsApp messages and so forth which was a reassurance that help was just one phone call away. I may have missed some names for which I may be pardoned!!

Unknown parameters

Initially I did not even know that there will be 34 radiations, I thought just one or two radiations and it’s done. I also did not know that immunotherapy was a full day affair of intravenous drug, and potassium support. Weekly blood/urine tests were also not known to me!!I also did not know that I had to wear Spiderman type of mask during Radiations!! Prognosis was the unknown factor but Doctors started indicating that cancer of vocal cords is a non-spreadable variety and there were chances that recurrence may not happen as the spread was also minimum. Fear of the unknown, honestly it was never there!

Medical fraternity professionalism

Atul, as the physician, was as usual there to indicate what can and cannot happen. Dr Maiya, Radiation Oncologist, was very clear in his thoughts and explained to us the complete roadmap during the treatment; it was like when the real issues will start, when they will taper off, what are the precautions to be taken; he was available 24/7 which luckily was not needed.

Emergencies

Once I was required to rush for chest x ray due to persistent cough, but things turned out to be normal. Once there was an indication of kidney function issue but Atul reassured that things were under control. No other emergencies cropped up.

Recovery

Dr. Maiya had explained how recovery will happen by talking my language, in graphical form. It took exactly same path indicated by Dr. Maiya. Within ¾ days of last radiation, I could switch back to bland but solid food. My throat condition would not allow me cold, sour, hot stuff. But it felt good to eat normal food. During first week of recovery, while surfing on the net, bought two tickets for Cricket World Cup final at MCG, (in March 2015!) maybe my way of declaring to myself that I am on recovery path. Started some normal activities, small walk, office for a couple of hours a day on alternate days, and then daily office for four hours. In June I started full fledge office and in July I started with out of Pune travel for work. During this phase some weakness was felt. Later on I started to drive  myself to travel outside Pune. On the whole recovery path was normal with no hick ups. Mental challenge was more than the physical challenge.

October 2015

Except the throat infections, I now do not have any issues. Throat area was directly bombarded with Radiations, so I am sure throat infections will keep on coming at more than normal frequency for some time. Life is back to normal; once in a while I have started thinking that I am infallible!! I travelled to Australia, will be travelling end of October to meet my sons’ family in Seattle. Travel for work is normal plus the greatest benefit is we had 2/3 get together meetings with friends!! What more can one want from life! I can confidently say that I am back to cruising mode thanks to Him, thanks to family and friends!

 

Jinx !

A couple of days back a new Metro line was inaugurated in Delhi’s NCR area. The occasion was graced by India’s Prime Minister, Chief Minister of the state of Uttar Pradesh and Governor of Uttar Pradesh. The line starts from NOIDA in UP and terminates within Delhi limits. The news item also said that this is the first time in more than 20 years, Chief Minister of UP has visited NOIDA. NOIDA is city of about one million population and no CM would go there, because those CM’s who visited NOIDA, lost their Chief Minister ship, immediately after the visit. So, the story spread that such visits are jinxed. In such a large city in the state, the Chief Ministers did not visit a major city due to “jinx”! This is simply unbelievable!  

On one side we are talking of Metros, Super Computers and on the other side we are talking of jinxes! Black cat crossing the path, evil eye causing havoc in lives! We are more scared of jinxes than of illnesses! Is it a way of finding someone or something to blame? In our universe there is some power which controls everything. Nobody knows anything about the power but we try to “control” it by taking action or performing some rituals. When something unpleasant happens, we call it a jinx. But when unexpected good event happens, we are not worried, we feel this happened because of my hard work. Problem is that we do not take life in stride, always try to look for easy solutions to anything unpleasant. It can be a ritual, it can be blaming the jinx.  

When we are true to ourselves, we know that chilly/lemon combination does not make the “evil” go away. Tying a black doll on the main door of our home does not force the evil to go away. The problem starts with the definition of evil. What is evil? Definition of evil is anything that happens out of turn in life, anything bad happens in life is evil. But what is bad? Is death of a parent bad? Yes of course, it is. But if the death happens at the age of say 80 plus, is it not a normal life event? Should this be treated as evil?  I don’t think so. In certain areas in Britain, death happening after the age of 80, without any serious health complications, is celebrated. There is party organized by the family which is called Golden Death Party! It is to celebrate good life lived by that person. In our culture also, after any death, lunch is arranged on a specific day, e.g. 13th day, and some sweets are served. The logic behind this is that we should bring the life back to normal routine, after the death!  

LimbuMirchi

In life when things happen out of turn, death of a young person in the family, sudden loss in business, a divorce in the family, sudden loss of an opportunity for higher studies, such things do happen. When such events occur, we feel that life has cheated us! To make sure that such events do not recur, we start following certain rituals. But does it really help? Sometimes events occur which are natural calamities, sometime due to market forces in the world; illnesses occur out of blue. By performing rituals, are you so sure that they are not going to recur? Events occur due to the reason that they are destined to happen in one’s life! We know of people who have never taken any alcohol, dying of liver cirrhosis. We know of non-smokers dying of throat or lung cancers. We have seen extremely fit athletes dying of heart failure on the field itself! This is destiny!  

The other day, I read an article about what people have done at Mandhara Devi, a famous deity near Satara, in Maharashtra. When it becomes dark people are sticking chits on trees, cursing whoever they want in writing and hoping that they will die in accident, or their houses will burn and so on! This is the reverse of the ritual. People feel that if they wish bad things for people in the mandir, their foes will really face problems! They forget that so called bad things happen as they are defined in one’s destiny and not by someone wishing bad things.  

One thing is for sure. Jinx and allied rituals are there in all cultures, world over. Human race cannot accept things happening out of turn; one interesting thing about rituals is black colour is used predominantly in rituals world over. Black Cats are supposedly bad omen but black Kohl dot on the forehead of babies is supposed to drive away the evil! 

 

In India, we see many Trucks with the famous writing on their back sides  बुरे नजरवाले तेरा मुह काला to drive away the evil! But that does not prevent some stray truck from ramming on the back side of the same truck! Let’s take things in stride and drive away bad stuff; it does not happen by way performing rituals.

BuriNazar

Ye Zindagi ke Mele!

This is an opening line of a song, from the movie Mela (1948). Mela means a Fair!

The meaning of the first couple of lines of the song is “This life is a Fair and there will be Fairs galore going on all the time! These Fairs will continue, alas, I will not be there!” The word “Fair” is the metaphor for “Life”!

This song represents the realities of life because life goes on and on! Our life is just a drop of water in the flowing river. At the end of our life, the water drop merges into river water and ends up as water. You folks must be wondering from my “All is Well” blog which I published yesterday, how come I have gone into reverse gear! I am not talking of sadness but realities of life. This is about one of most positive experience in my life!

This thought came in my mind when I attended a function for a book release. The book was written by my friend Vishwas’s wife Vineeta. The name of the book is “Grieving to Healing”. Vishwas died suddenly this year in January, and here is Vineeta publishing a book of poems she wrote while grieving. The courage shown by her is unbelievable and I am sure this book will guide many who have lost their spouses!

What is life? What would happen to this world if you and me never existed? What would this world be without a Gandhi or a Nehru? Where would this world be if there had been no Einstein or Picasso? World would have been the same if there had been no Lata Mangeshkar and Mohmad Rafi or a Tendulkar. Contribution of these eminent personalities is enormous. But had they not been born; our world would have been almost the same at it is today! Our individual contributions have no relevance, considering the life span of the earth. All of us are born and are assigned finite number of breathes. The beauty is we do not know that number. This lack of knowledge is what drives the world. Before the human being reaches the golden period of his life, after 60, fallibility as a concept is alien. In the golden period the thoughts come in mind about end of journey. If the end comes as a natural progression, after old age and illness, brief or long, humans accept the death philosophically. But when this happens suddenly, as if skidding on a speed breaker, the grieving is profound.

The book release, especially the thought behind it, is one of the important paths that Vineeta has shown us to move forward in life. People handle grief differently. Humans tend to think that sudden death occurs in someone else’s life and not their own life. Death of a spouse can happen in any home, like Cancer, Heart Attack, Fatal Accident also can happen to anybody. So why not plan for such possibility, the way people plan careers, and finances in life. Mind you, this is not going to be a golden wand solution, but planning will help one to handle the grief a little better.

What other ways come to mind? Create a small group of friends, who meet regularly. Do your exercise regularly and shun fast food!  But while doing this, be honest to yourself. A neighbour who died recently had a very different story. His son lives abroad and had come on a holiday. The neighbour had told his son that his BP/sugar values were regularly checked. His dad was going to Gym daily and met his friends post gym. As he died suddenly, the son kept on wondering why the death was sudden. He found, that testing was done regularly but values were wide outside the safe range. He did his Gym routine in a very relaxed manner, without sweating. He and his friends met after Gym for smoking and eating fast food. This was exactly opposite of what he should have been doing.

Trying to cultivate hobbies is a very important way of keeping yourself busy and interested in life. Planning, means one should start trying hobbies as early as possible and not after the event has occurred. Friends, history has shown that women handle the death of spouse much better than men. This could be because, day to day chores in the house like cooking, cleaning and tracking of groceries are ongoing and keeps women busy. Men also should try their hands at cooking and other daily chores; try helping your wife in the kitchen! Don’t start with something very fancy but start with something which you normally eat. Both men and women should start some activity which ensures that there is something to look forward to the next day or week. Do not plan your things around your children and their families. Sometimes we tend to forget that they have also grown and have their own life, worries and anxieties. Support them, help them. Be their lighthouse but don’t make them your lighthouse!  And do not expect the children to look after you! Anxieties increase when expectations are not met.  

If you are a people’s person, life can be much easier. After the death of your spouse, your most reliable partner is gone. Being people’s person will help you handle this change in a better way. Don’t go into shell. Start going to market for your daily chores. Initially you may find it tough. But over a period, things ease out. Start going on holidays, to movies. Do things that you normally do.

Friends, passing of a spouse is the thing that will hit you the hardest. It is the most difficult event to handle. But it is doable. Try to start doing things, that your spouse would have expected you to do! As the saying goes, your spouse will be  watching you from up there, till you take that final journey to rejoin!