February 23, 2016

A Tribute to Rachel Shanaz

Rachel Shanaz
This month on the 18 February, 2016 I get a call from my nephew; that Rachel is no more. (Rachel is my niece, my last brother’s child) For a moment I was wondering whether I am really listening to this information; later with few more calls the message was getting confirmed that she has died even before she reached the hospital; and was diagnosed as fever with jaundice.

I was flooded with so many memories of her in my life; some of which made me smile, some made me happy, still some made me grateful and few situations and experiences made me angry and also upset. Now I did not want to focus on the negative aspects; so I chose to look at the positive side of her and decided to be grateful for whatever memories she has created in our lives; letting go of some aspects which is not worth talking about, especially when the person is no more. As I strongly believe that it takes both the good, and not so good to make our lives complete. I have always been grateful for all types of experiences because I see every experience as learning and a revelation for my own growth process; that challenges me to remain true to myself.

So I and Dorothy decided to work on the funeral service as our tribute for Rachel, taking appropriate scripture passage, and choosing her favourite hymns, while David agreed to go out and get us the print outs and copies. While I completed the work, my daughter wanted to read a tribute, so I tried to help her a bit and she came up with one page for Rachel, whom she referred as “AKKA” means elder sister. We went for the funeral and were there for the service and Dorothy was looking at the lifeless body of Rachel, put in the coffin box. She told me that she    did not feel like reading. So I agreed and told her she can give me to post:

Courtesy Google image
The following was the tribute:
“My first meeting with Rachel akka was in my house; as she studied in the boarding school, I did not get to meet her often.  When she started coming home for holidays,  I was introduced by my mother and I was still small. Rachel akka was very easy to be friendly and it did not take much time for me to become friend. In this short span of time that I knew her, I found akka to be very approachable and hard working. She was very good at singing for we had many moments in our family where we prayed and sang together. I still remember some of the songs that she used to sing with us. She used to maintain books and write her favorite songs in the book. 

She loved to stay with our family; and we welcomed her on weekends as it was holiday for my parents; I have a great memory of visiting the Salarjung measum, Dhole Re Dhani, a small resort set in Rajasthani village, Chowmallah Palace and also few movies that we laughed out loudly enjoying the comedies. Sometimes her stay lasted longer; when she required help from my mom to write her exams; submit assignments.  She was also very good at maintaining her cupboard clean and neat and I always used to take her help for sorting my clothes and books. She had a neat and beautiful handwriting and she wrote from her heart; I do have a few letters in which she has thanked me and my family for our hospitality and positive experiences, whenever she came to our house; during holidays. Sometimes she used to stay longer; and accompanied us everywhere.

She loved Dosa and potatoes and taught me how to make bread bhajjis, for snacks, in the evening with tea. She also was good in collecting quotes and proverbs and would recite in the free time. Whenever mummy shouted at me for anything, I used to tell Rachel akka and she would comfort me and so we used to go out for a walk, eat paanipuri and sometimes even go for long walks. Today I feel sad that she is no more; but her memories will always remain with us; Good bye sister I will miss you J Maria Dorothy

I am still in the process of getting used to the idea that, my niece is no more in this world. There are so many questions that are unanswered. Why death at such a young age? Why the diagnosis was delayed by the doctors etc… while I keep searching for the answers both from within and from the situations, it only adds to my sadness. I am grateful to be reminded once again in this year; that death is inevitable and none of us can escape death – whether we like it or not, it’s an important reality.

image from Google
I have seen my grandmother’s death,  my elder sister’s death, my dad’s death, my mother’s death, and my son’s death and recently in the last two years I have seen my brother in law’s death and few more deaths in the relatives and friends circle and each time – I have been disturbed and sad. Now I don't get tears in my eyes, even though it hurts me badly.

But over the years  I have begun to accept death as part of life; because every death reminded me how precious and valuable life is, and how important it is not to waste time on trivial matters but to take charge of oneself, to re evaluate what is important in life. To once again reconsider my time, my priorities and minimize regrets.

In a way I am thankful to Rachel because she gave me lessons, especially in the last few interactions with her... She helped me focus on important matters of life and inspired me to keep moving on letting go; teaching me that I have no control over events, but I can take control of my responses, and what I can learn from them.  

Today I feel death is not my enemy to be frightened of; but its part of the healing process, a place of rest and a graduation as some authors call it, to a new life !!

“There are no mistakes, no coincidences, all events are blessings given to us to learn from.

Dr Elisabeth Kubler-Ross



  1. Am so sorry for your loss, Genevive. May Rachel rest in peace!

    1. Thanks shilpa... letting myself grieve and being grateful for the experience..

  2. Really sorry for ur loss
    Was touched by the words written by ur daughter
    May Rachael's family get strength to face it all

    1. Appreciate you Afshan for stopping by here.... thanks for the comforting words.

  3. This is so devastatingly sad Genevive, I am so so sorry for your loss and for Rachel's parents and family, and so sad for all who knew this beautiful young woman. May her dear soul rest in peace and may you all have the strength in these coming days weeks months and years to mourn her untimely death. Your tribute to her is beautiful and moving.

    1. Thanks Susan, its not easy to give a complete expression of how I am feeling, but its better to unload the burden, am sure its going take some time. I am grateful to you for being here and sharing your kind words and thoughts with us... thanks again for connecting. regards..

  4. I am so sorry for your loss, Angela. Wishing you and your family strength and peace. Will keep you in my prayers.

    1. Thanks friend, appreciate your kind words, and God bless you ..


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