It was Eid day and the prayer had just been completed in the large, brightly lit hall the Muslim communtiy usually rented for the occasion. There were hugs, smiles, shouts of "Eid Mubarak!" and affection galore as Muslims, men and women, dressed in their best, revelled in the joy of the occasion.
The sisters in the women's section met each other enthusiastically, searching for family and friends. But one of them stood out. She wasn't smiling. She was crying. Tears streamed down her face and her mouth turned downwards into a grimace. She wasn't shedding tears of joy. These were tears of sadness. I couldn't understand why. Wasn't it Eid day?
My mother, who knew the sister well, explained that she was crying because she missed her husband. He had died nearly 12 years earlier and the thought of celebrating another Eid day without him still pained her after all of these years.
While Eid is definitely a time of joy and happiness, it's also one of sadness for those who recall happy occasions with deceased family members. It's hard to keep that in mind when we're trying to make holidays special for ourselves and our families.Whether we're experiencing this sadness ourselves, or know someone who is, grief is something we can't ignore.
One way of dealing with it is through Dua (supplication). Abu Usaid Saidi said: We were once sitting with Rasulullah, peace and blessings be upon him. when a man from the tribe of Salmah came and said to him: "‘O Messenger of Allah! Do my parents have rights over me even after they have died?' And Rasulullah said: 'Yes. You must pray to Allah to bless them with His Forgiveness and Mercy, fulfill the promises they made to anyone, and respect their relations and their friends'" (Abu Daud, Ibn Majah).
Why not use Eid to make Dua and remember deceased parents? As well, why not use it as an occasion to visit and show respect to their relatives and friends? This will alleviate some of the pain of missing them on an occasion when families get together and celebrate.
If the deceased is another relative or friend, why not invite over those who remember him or her on Eid day for a meal followed by an Eid gift. This way, not only can you avoid isolation which will lead to more sadness, but you can also be with those who cherish the memories of your loved one.
Turning the tables, if you know someone dealing with personal grief this Eid, make a special effort to invite them over so they aren't alone. If this is their first Eid after their loved one has passed away, then extra sensitivity may be needed. Maybe you can take them out for a meal at a restaurant instead of having a large get-together so that you can both share in fond memories of the relative or friend.
But personal grief isn't just connected to the death of a loved one. It could be related to family problems, losing a job, failing grades or more. In this case, the need to get together with others on Eid is even more important. Here again, the key is to avoid isolation on a happy occasion. If you have a family member or friend who is suffering through such problems, inviting them over on Eid day can lift their spirits. This can help them break the cycle of depression and hopelessness they may be going through. Offer them words of Dua, hope and comfort which can also help them cope with their difficult situation.
This Eid, if you see know someone suffering, try to comfort them. We must make a special effort to help anyone in need, and Eid day, which is a happy occasion, is an excellent occasion to do so.
Photo Attribution: Emmanuel Huybrechts -- http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Three_muslim_women_(6219047008).jpg