It is often said that, "you don't truly appreciate something until it's gone." As much as this is true for objects and material blessings in life, it is also true with one of the most difficult stages of life-- death. Death is the ultimate truth. The one thing that everyone in existence can agree on. We are all bound to die. Nonetheless, it doesn't make it any easier to cope with.
The days and months after the death of a loved one are often a time of deep reflection and contemplation. The legacy of the person is recalled, the good times, lessons learned, laughs, cries, the whole bag. Stories are told, Quran is read, and people are always asking how they can help or what can be done.
Eventually the question that always comes back to the mind of the believer who has lost a loved one is: What can I do for this person now that they are gone?
The scholars of Islam have discussed this issue at length in regards to Quran recitation, dua, charity, and other deeds that are often done in the name of those who have passed. For more information on those discussions you can see our article on it here. However, that is not the focus of this article. This article is about something else, something that I feel is in the spirit of the teachings of Islam and a great way of remembering and benefiting those who have passed.
We miss the little things. The way they would laugh, their smell, the way they would look at us.
We miss connecting with them.
We long to feel them.
One way to pass those feelings on to others and reconnect with our loved ones is to think about what we have learned from them. I don't mean by this rules or particulars, but rather the deep and lasting lessons of life. In reflecting on those lessons we will deepen our own relationship with them while at the same time intentionally developing a substantial contribution to others. When doing this it is also likely that we will recall stories or incidents wherein those lessons and values came to the forefront.
Once we've connected with those experiences and allowed them to sink in and affect who we are it is time to share them with others. The Prophet (pbuh) said, "Whoever initiates a good practice will have the reward of all who practice it." A great way to benefit someone after they've passed is to apply, share, and teach those lessons that were learned from them. In doing so their example becomes the beginning of good practices in the lives of others.
So how would this look? After the death of the loved one the person sits down and reflects about the things they learned from the person and appreciated about them. In the course of doing so they remember incidents that highlight how the person lived and why it was so impactful and beautiful. Then they take that reflection and intentionally act upon it, share it with others, and perhaps even build an institution to embody it. In doing this they have honored the individual and their legacy while at the same time greatly benefiting them by consciously making them the initiator of beneficial traditions that effect their own life and others.
We also reconnect with them.
Please share in the comments stories and lessons from passed loved ones so we can all benefit.
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