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Whats App Condolences: Death be proud!

A few weeks ago my father expired. It was appalling to note that the same people whom he eulogized all through his life did not even bother to enquire over the phone. Even as I was reaching Mumbai from the airport, a relative from Chennai hurriedly called me to offer her condolences without realizing that I was flying and was under tremendous stress - considering all the Covid protocols that had to be complied with even during such times of crisis. May be she was in a hurry to offer condolences and take bath!

It is unfortunate to observe how values in our TamBrahm community have reached the lowest common denominator. The erosion in norms, religious rituals and practices has reached such a level that redemption seems impossible. Please don't mistake me by thinking that I am a control freak or simply nitpicking on events/ actions/ people etc. What I am writing here is from the bottom of my heart. I sincerely hope that Mr Praveen is able to empathise with me.

My mother's elder brother died way back in 1986 in Chennai. But my mother never severed the relationship with his children (as is wont to happen in most families). She attended the weddings of each of his three children (a son - he lives in Pune and two daughters - who live in Sarjapur Road). Yet, both the daughters of my uncle did not even bother to speak to my mother over the phone to offer condolences! This was how they had valued the relationship that they had with my parents in the last so many years.

My father's few relatives who came for the funeral vanished when it was time to take the body to the crematorium. Covid became a very convenient excuse for them. One of my father's sambandhis (who lives in Mumbai) also took refuge under the same reason. While he can be condoned for not attending the funeral due to his advancing age, the fact that his son too did not turn up for the funeral is indeed hard to digest. His son called the family later in the night to inform them that "he will visit them on Sunday along with his wife" to offer his condolences.

Even my father's elder brother who lives in Coimbatore and was often in touch with my father with regards to the shrartham to be performed for their parents did not speak to my mother. Neither did his wife! His wife is 84 years and he is 88 years old but speaking on the phone to the younger brother's wife to offer condolences for a few minutes was a difficult proposition for them. How ironical! My father had so much regard for his elder brother... I do not know how his soul would feel to know that the brother whom he regarded with so much love, respect and affection did not have 5 minutes to speak to his widow.

One question to all the Tamil Brahmins in this world: Our forefathers and ancestors have clearly specified that in case you are not able to offer condolences on the day of the death, you can speak to the family or visit the family in the first ten days. Or you can talk over the phone or visit them on a Sunday. How do you expect a woman who has just lost her husband (after 54 years of marriage) to check WhatsApp messages and attend calls on the day her husband has passed away? Don't you think this is cruel? What stops someone from enquiring over the phone and offering a few words of solace to the widow on a Sunday? (my father passed away all of a sudden on a Thursday).

Even more egregious is the attitude of some of my mother's relatives who sent a condolence message on WhatsApp. Such behavior is not only perplexing but also causes immense hurt. My mother's youngest brother who lives in Mumbai did not bother to visit his sister even though she had angioplasties done in 2020. For more than a year and a half, he used Covid as an excuse not to visit his sister though his home was less than 15 kms from our residence. However, he had to visit his sister when her husband passed away. He did not even bother to buy her a saree that is required to be given to the sister on the 10th day.

Even more tragic is the fact that none of my uncles ever sent any money to my mother for "Karthikai" but this uncle of mine gave my mother Rs.100 after she was widowed even though Karthikai is several weeks away! Though my mother's blind affection for her family will never make her accept such behaviors as obnoxious, the truth is that these actions definitely do not augur well for the future. I am sure that there are similar such stories in several Tamil Brahmin families in India.

In fact on the 9th day after my father's death, my mother had to do the cooking for us even though her health condition was fragile. Her younger sister who lives a stone's throw from our apartment complex did not volunteer to come forward to support us. Even when she did visit us, it was more to talk about her plight incessantly.

So, the message is loud and clear.

1. People don't want to give the respect that has to be accorded to a departed soul.
2. Condolences are offered on social media.
3. People wish to offer condolences quickly on the same day when death has occurred and take bath without bothering to understand the predicament from the other side facing bereavement.
4. Many relatives don't bother to offer condolences at all.
5. Even sambandhis don't find it necessary to attend the funeral in person.
6. Courtesy is conspicuous by its absence even during death.

My father was intensely attached to his siblings and their children but barring a handful, none of them even bothered to
offer condolences let alone volunteer to provide financial support. Even all those people in his ancestral village whom he supported financially did not bother to ask what had happened! Gratitude is a rare virtue nowadays!

Well, what can I say.. Death is a great leveler and everyone who has taken birth has to go one day. But such insensitivity to
a bereaved family is what is shocking! The wounds will take time to heal....
 

Mani_Chennai

Active member
Sorry to hear your ordeal. However, your sorrow is yours alone and your loss is yours alone. Whether some one participate in your sorrow is not your concern or responsibility. From you name according to a close friend of mine seems to be from a village Kalakad in Tirunelveli district. I am told Toirunelveli people in general are close to their family. If it is true, your feelings are understandable. But you need to mature in your views and expectations. Your mother did her duty and executed her responsibility and you can not expect any thing in return. It seems those relative wanted to save their skin and that should be lesson to you in that never expect anything from relatives unless you are a very rich person that they can exploit.

You want the extended family to share your sorrow, but your departed father did not care about it but exhibited his personal characteristics of generosity. Also, this forum is not a Psychiatric forum and each one of the members have their own story. Feel peaceful that you were close to your father and your father was a great man. I have done that and have no regret. Remember Krishana says : Kaymanyeva athikaram aste ma phaleshu katha cha na: your have the right to do your duty but you have no right to expect the result as you wish. Prayers to your departed father's soul.
 

mskmoorthy

Well-known member
Dear Sir,

I offer my heartfelt condolences in the loss of your father. Losing a father or losing a husband (for your mother) is hard at any age. Please be strong and brave for the sake of your mother.
May your father find happiness in the company of his parents.
 
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Satyavageeswaran

New member
Sorry to hear your ordeal. However, your sorrow is yours alone and your loss is yours alone. Whether some one participate in your sorrow is not your concern or responsibility. From you name according to a close friend of mine seems to be from a village Kalakad in Tirunelveli district. I am told Toirunelveli people in general are close to their family. If it is true, your feelings are understandable. But you need to mature in your views and expectations. Your mother did her duty and executed her responsibility and you can not expect any thing in return. It seems those relative wanted to save their skin and that should be lesson to you in that never expect anything from relatives unless you are a very rich person that they can exploit.

You want the extended family to share your sorrow, but your departed father did not care about it but exhibited his personal characteristics of generosity. Also, this forum is not a Psychiatric forum and each one of the members have their own story. Feel peaceful that you were close to your father and your father was a great man. I have done that and have no regret. Remember Krishana says : Kaymanyeva athikaram aste ma phaleshu katha cha na: your have the right to do your duty but you have no right to expect the result as you wish. Prayers to your departed father's soul.
Thank you so much Mr Mani. I will be writing an article on my father Sri D Ganapathy in "Brahmin Today" magazine focusing on his contribution to fellow brahmins. If possible, do read it whenever it is released. My views were a result of my shock at the way the world has changed so much. I read somewhere that - you can skip a marriage function, you can skip a seemandham, but you cannot absolve your basic duty when it is a question of death - more so when you are related by birth. No one expects people to travel from far and wide to offer condolences - but a phone call? Is it that difficult? Well, as you have rightly pointed out in your last para, my queries are answered in those lines. Sarvam Vishnu Mayam Jagath. I am not bitter but only wiser now. It is unfortunate that the courtesy of offering condolences is now being labelled an expectation. So be it!
 
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Satyavageeswaran

New member
Dear Sir,

I offer my heartfelt condolences in the loss of your father. Losing a father or losing a husband (for your mother) is hard at any age. Please be strong and brave for the sake of your mother.
May your father find happiness in the company of his parents.
Thank you so much Mr Moorthy. Appreciate your gesture!
 

Mani_Chennai

Active member
Thank you so much Mr Mani. I will be writing an article on my father Sri D Ganapathy in "Brahmin Today" magazine focusing on his contribution to fellow brahmins. If possible, do read it whenever it is released. My views were a result of my shock at the way the world has changed so much. I read somewhere that - you can skip a marriage function, you can skip a seemandham, but you cannot absolve your basic duty when it is a question of death - more so when you are related by birth. No one expects people to travel from far and wide to offer condolences - but a phone call? Is it that difficult? Well, as you have rightly pointed out in your last para, my queries are answered in those lines. Sarvam Vishnu Mayam Jagath. I am not bitter but only wiser now. It is unfortunate that the courtesy of offering condolences is now being labelled an expectation. So be it!
I know your father and his services to Brahmans in Mumbai. What you need to realize it, he did not do these services expecting in return but felt happy and enabled to help others. Sathy, your father from Kalakad, Tirunelveli is greate. You also need to understand befor our time, when small pox, colera etc., were prevelant, people avoided going to death ceremonies. Suppose his sisters have come and died, do you think your father would feel happy? Our Karma follows us and for others it look as cruel. Your life as a son has reflected in your letter, but while people will come when you have wealth, had never come when death comes. Death is a lonely journey like the birth, when no one else was born in genral( excepting twins etc).
Your anguish and consolation from the family is a normal reaction, but you should be matured enough to accept there is a reason for every thing. So, don't take the comments personall, rather as a way to rationalize the behavior of family and friends. Forgive them and forget them. If necessary aovid them. You are right that "death " should be mourned but that does not include ":when there is an epidemic , even then you should go to the funeral". If I am dead, I wold not want my family members to die with me, as that will be against a Brahman's dharma - we wish good for others even when we are down. Otherwise, there is no distinction between a Brahman and others. So, you offer 10 hadnful of water recalling your father and his gotra every day till you die. I do that even now. That way, he will be happy (so far no dead person came and said it to me, yet that is our way of showing our gratitude and remembering the good time we have had with them). Your angish as to not receiving a phone call is acceptable but those who failed will face the same result which cannot compensate for your sorry. My hearty condolences to all children of late Sri. Kalakad Dharmarajan Ganapathi. May his oul rest in peace.
 
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