Arun Ramchand is dying to talk
Arun Ramchand works at a cemetery in Adelaide and is a practicing Hindu.
Below, he answers questions from the Dying to Talk Discussion Starter. For support in discussing your end-of-life wishes with your loved ones, download it from www.dyingtotalk.org.au
Would you prefer a quiet environment or do you prefer activity and chatter around you?
I would ideally like a room with close family members and friends meditating and chanting mantras from our holy scripture to allow me to find peace and to allow my soul to depart calmly. I am a practicing Hindu, and it is very important for us to accept our destiny prior to dying. Some people require more time than others to accept their destiny. Working in a cemetery has certainly fast-tracked that process for me.
Would you like music to be playing and if so, what style or what music?
Personally, I would love for some ‘90s R&B music to be blasted in the house to remind me of the carefree teenage days I had the luxury of enjoying. I would also like for Kirtan (Sikh and Hindu devotional songs) to be played and sung to give me time to reflect on my life and more importantly, to accept my fate and find peace with myself and those who have hurt me.
If possible, would it be important to you to have time outside?
I cannot remember the last time I spent an entire day indoors. I would love to spend entire days outside for as long as I can. As clichéd as it sounds, long walks on the beach is what I love to do. It helps me clear my mind and take away all the stresses of the day.
Would you prefer to be surrounded by lots of family and friends, or would you prefer one or two closest people to be with you?
In Hindu custom, it is important to be surrounded by family members who are encouraged to pray and let me find peace and accept death. I would also love to be surrounded by a few close friends and if possible, to have a few drinks with and talk about the good ol’ days.
Are there any cultural or religious practices you would like to observe?
Being a Hindu, we have several religious practices that have to be observed. Before passing, I would like for all of my possessions such as clothes and footwear to be distributed to the less fortunate. It is important to leave earth in a similar manner to how we arrived in to the world.
Upon my passing, a 13-day mourning period should be observed in order for my soul to reach its afterlife stage. Family members generally abstain from meat and alcohol during this period but I would like my non-Hindu friends to celebrate my life and to enjoy themselves in my memory. It may sound weird, but I always imagined my friends on a rooftop bar after my service enjoying a drink with my picture on a chair.
Is there anyone particular you would like to see or talk to?
I would love for my grandparents to appear when my time is up and for them to guide me to the other side. I would like for them to promise to cook me all the good food that they used to cook for me when I was growing up and to promise me that I will not put on any weight in my afterlife from all the eating.
What is on your bucket list of things you would like to do or achieve before you die?
I would like to be able to visit my ancestral home before I die. My grandparents were from a province in what is now Pakistan (formerly part of India) and moved to Singapore during the partition in 1947. It is relatively unsafe for us to visit those parts of Pakistan but a family friend visited our ancestral town some years back and my grandfather was able to recognise, in a picture, the house where he grew up in.
It would be absolutely mind blowing if I could spend a few days in the town and to imagine what it was like for my grandparents to grow up there.
How did you feel during the process of completing this form? Was there anything about the process that interested or surprised you?
It has made me realise that death does not come at a certain age. It can come anytime and regardless of one’s age, it is always important to be prepared for death. A friend from the funeral industry once made a comment about death. She said “each of us gets one and only one”.
While completing the form, it has made me realise that I am fortunate to be working in such an industry where I am able to see for myself that regardless of the material things we chase after in life, when the time comes, we leave the world with nothing more than the clothes on our back.