In Times of Grief

The masjids are closed, the iftar gatherings have stopped, the world is on lockdown. This Ramadan is different for all these reasons, but for many out there this Ramadan could be the first Ramadan they experience with someone special in their lives missing. 

Traumatic experiences of losing a loved one can change our daily life, the way we see the world, the way we see ourselves. Grief on any normal day feels like a storm of emotions, just as the tidal wave eases allowing you to breathe for a moment another one comes and knocks you further back and the current pulls you under. There are days where you cry endlessly and days where you feel guilty for not crying. The pain can be so intense that you wonder how can someone continue living a normal life while carrying such a load upon their shoulders. 

Even though you may feel as if you’re the only person in this world feeling like this, struggling to control the tears, struggling to muster up the courage to get out of bed in the morning – every morning, you are not alone. This tremendous pain you’re feeling now, has been felt by human beings since the beginning of time. If we look at the story of Prophet Yaqub, ‘alayhi salaam, he had twelve sons, when he was separated from his son Yusuf the pain he felt overwhelmed him to the point his eyes turned white; “And he turned away from them and said, “Oh, my sorrow over Yusuf,” and his eyes became white from grief, because of the sorrow that he suppressed” [12:84] 

Many of us who have lost someone are always told to be strong and to have sabr, have patience and we often think that crying endlessly is the opposite of sabr or thinking the grieving process is somehow a lack of imaan. Feeling this way does not in any way indicate that the relationship between you and Allah is weak or that you cannot accept what He has written for you. We see a perfect example of the Prophet Muhammad, sallalhu ‘alayhi wasallam, dealing with the news of the passing of his young son Ibrahim. Ibrahim was in his last breaths and the eyes of Allah’s Messenger started shedding tears. Abdur Rahman ibn ‘Awf said, “O Allah’s Messenger, even you are weeping!” He said, “O Ibn ‘Awf, this is mercy”. Then he wept more and said, “The eyes are shedding tears and the heart is grieved, and we will not say except what pleases our Lord. O Ibrahim! Indeed, we are grieved by your separation”.

If the greatest human to walk this earth wept for his son, how can we attribute these same feelings to weakness in imaan? Allah did not tell his most beloved messenger not to cry for the loss of his son. These emotions are normal and very much part of our grieving process, and should not be ignored or suppressed. 

Ramadan without loved ones is hard, looking across the table as you wait to break your fast and seeing an empty space is painful and this pain will always be there. But, Ramadan is a month of mercy, a month that envelopes you with a sense of calm. Use this time to remember the person you have lost, do not shy away from talking about them. And above all be kind to yourself and allow yourself time to heal. 

“…but give glad tidings to As‑Saabiroon (the patient ones). Who, when afflicted with calamity, say: ‘Truly, to Allah we belong and truly, to Him we shall return.’ They are those on whom are the Salawaat (i.e. who are blessed and will be forgiven) from their Lord, and (they are those who) receive His Mercy, and it is they who are the guided ones.” [2:155-157]


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