On My Brother's Demise - Bhupatrai Desai

After two days of hospital treatment for high Pneumonia (or Corona?), my brother Bhupat could not be cured and he passed away at the age of 73.

In our family, we are two brothers and four sisters. Of them, we have a sister three years older than us - Sudhaben, me, and then Bhupat. Then two years younger Mina and ten years younger Alka and Aruna (twins).

We are twin brothers – I was born two hours earlier than Bhupat. So I was called to be the elder of the two, but he was not in agreement with this. He used to quote religious base making him the elder. Well, he proved it tragically true by making an early exit. 

News anchors like formal persons may ask me, 'How do you feel?' The straightforward and true answer is “sad and sorry for the loss” - because he was my companion nine months before our birth, being a twin from the womb of our mother. 

We do weep and tears roll down. It is a natural reaction to a departed brother – but being elderly and even otherwise, we can accept the fact and be normal very soon. So formalities of consolations are hardly needed or say out of question. While showing any gesture, concerned relatives must remember this and avoid being too much formal. The shock wave is created and at the earliest, it is neutralized.

Bhupat was a higher secondary school teacher in Hindi after his M.A., B.Ed. education. After retirement and even much before that from 1976 onwards, he was a very active devotee and worker of Gayatri Parivar. He is survived by his wife Bharati (alias Hemlata), son Deval, daughter-in-law Shivani, and grandson Devansh. So his family is well-settled in social and financial matters.


We are sure about one thing after birth and that is death. The only problem is we don’t know the time. We do not know for sure how long one is going to live and still, we keep on living in a way as if we are never going to die and live a very long life. We forget about our exit – death and so we go on behaving self-centered and selfishly, even saving (hoarding) all we have. We just do not share our means to help the needy or donate – I have seen people being crude enough and not helping even their close ones. As death is certain, so another certain fact is about leaving everything including one’s own body, own house, and all the possessions like money, land, and other materialistic properties. So can we think of planning to share and donate? Let us think.

Condolence Meeting (બેસણું)

It is a fixed time appointment to meet the persons whose family member has passed. Earlier, a few decades ago, it was informed by postcards. Nowadays, newspaper advertisements in one or more newspapers with photos of the departed person is a common practice. The place and time are informed. It can be at home or in a rented community hall. So during this fixed duration of time, the place is arranged with a big photo of one who is no more, and close relatives like parents, sons, daughters, grandchildren, etc. sit in a row in a formal white dress. Visitors are asked to sit in front of them. Visiting relatives/friends first join hands in front of the photo, show respect by offering petals of flowers put there and then meet the relatives sitting in a row. The visitors are plenty, so except for meeting for a minute or so, there is hardly much time for them. After initial formality, they sit in the crowd and chit-chat about everything like political, and social events around or share market. Usually, there is hardly any concern for the demised. For this half-a-minute meeting of showing their concern/presence, people often travel up to 500-800 km distance.
Condolence is an expression of how sorry you feel for somebody whose relative or close friend has just died.
Your words can be:
  • My sincerest condolences to you at this time. You have my deepest sympathy and unwavering support. 
  • Wishing you peace, comfort, courage where, and lots of love at this time of sorrow. 
  • My heart goes out to you at this difficult time. 
So condolence is sympathy and sadness with another in sorrow. Condolence applies chiefly to the formal expression of grief to one who has suffered a loss. Generally, it is said for death in the family.

Messages of condolence:
  • My heart goes out to you for the loss of your dear one. 
  • I can not imagine the pain and heartache you are feeling. 
  • Losing someone so close is so hard. 
  • Be kind and gentle with yourself in such a testing time. 
  • I recall how much time you spent together. 
All in all, condolences are an expression of sympathy to someone who is experiencing pain arising from death, misfortune, or deep mental anguish. Condolence is an active conscious support of that person or activity.

During this condolence, meeting, bhajans by an orchestra or sound system are arranged. In very few places there is a commentary by the compeer about the life of a departed person and even PowerPoint presentation showing their life. Sometimes, it is converted into a meeting with lectures about the departed.

I want to write my own experiences about condolence meetings.

It is a formal program showing concern about the deceased and intimacy with the remaining relatives. In reality, because of the big gathering in a short period, the concerned parties cannot spare anytime for one another. It becomes more a 'show business' and less an exchange of emotions.

In spite of having a mourning mood and sorrowful faces, people make it a social gathering to chitchat with friends and relatives. For organizing individuals it becomes an insult more than anything else.

The inconvenience caused to visitors of long travel and its expenses, do not justify the purpose.

Money and Time as a Help

Nowadays medical treatment is getting so costly, anybody will find the end of their savings. So, politely, but firmly, offer money as a help - as big amount as possible. It is of great help.

Second, is an offer to do night duty or day duty even for a few hours to stay at the hospital. Relieve your relative for getting fresh and/or doing their job. This offer of time is a must because people do not find a person to relieve them from the hospital duty.

WhatsApp Messages and Phone Calls

The message, without even knowing to whom and about whom it is written on WhatsApp, writing "RIP" or "Om Shanti" hardly serves any purpose. Better such formality is avoided.

I do not appreciate long-duration phone calls, consoling the relative. Sometimes, it irritates me. It’s okay to talk on the phone for physically debilitated persons or persons staying far away - abroad.

I will summarize the total story in short:
If the concerned person is close and intimate, visit them immediately and just meet. Your facial expression and mannerisms will suffice to console. Words are hardly necessary.
- Dr. Bharat M. Desai, Bilimora 

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