When a loved one passes on


Image from paxvilla.com

Today I am taking a totally different tack because my heart is heavy and I want to see if applying strategic thinking can make it better. You see, my grand nephew, let's call him Baby E, passed away last Sunday morning. He was only 5 weeks old. We had just celebrated his first month a week earlier, and he was such an angel sleeping through all the hustle and bustle, contented that there were so many people carrying him. We were so happy that we could welcome a new member to the family. What a difference a week makes, and now we are grappling with infant mortality! I don't know where this post will head, and I don't even know if this will ever get published. I am ranting, but I am also seeing if I can get a new perspective from this very heavy subject.

Intent

When I think about intent, I realise I don't know how to frame it, or what to see. What is it that I am looking for? What do I want to achieve? Should I simply ask for acceptance, or should I be looking for a cause? I suppose I will leave this aside for now, and come back to it later. Perhaps as I look at the other aspects of strategic thinking, I can appreciate more what I am feeling, and ultimately, what I want to achieve.

Thinking in time

Googling infant mortality in Singapore, I find out that Singapore has one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the world. In 2014, it was 1.9 per 1000 live births. Assuming 30,000 births, that is only 57 deaths. It makes me wonder, why us? What have we done - or failed to do - to have deserved this? I suppose this is a case of denial; that it should have been someone else. But I also suppose that everyone else is saying the same thing - let it be someone else - and it so happens to land on our lap. Someone will be the statistic, and it happens to be us. Is there anything we could have done to prevent this? Could we have done something differently? Said more prayers, ate different food, contributed more to charity? There are too many "what ifs" for a situation that we have too little information on. But that won't change the status quo.

Reframing

It sounds morbid, but in reframing, we ask, "What opportunities can we identify with our situation?" and while I don't want to see it, I realise that there are opportunities to make Baby E's passing a testimony to his life. We could:

1. set up a foundation to further research on infant mortality; or

2. help families that do not have support in such trying times; or

3. set up a trust under his name for educating his siblings; or

4. create a Facebook page that celebrates the life of all one-month old babies around the world

One thing I realise through reframing is that we should not allow Baby E's death to be forgotten; we should celebrate his short life, and then dedicate our actions to further the memory of the boy who would have had so much to give, but couldn't.

Intent revisited

I suppose my intent is really not about the situation but about me. It has turned out to be what we can do when faced with this difficult situation, instead of what we can do about the situation. After all, death is death, and it is always difficult, even for a person who has lived a long life. But when it has been snuffed out so soon, there is a compounding that cannot be fathomed. But death is a natural part of life; and it will come to everyone. To the person who has passed on, death has no more hold. But for us who are still alive, we need to pick up the pieces, be a better person, and live life to the fullest; despite our pain. In doing so, we can celebrate the life of the person that has left us, and make it all the more bearable. As such, I have come to the realisation that my intent is not to seek answers or to lay blame; nothing we can do can bring Baby E back to us. My intent is really to see how best we can carry on living to be worthy of being Baby E's kin. His short life has not made ours miserable, it has made ours better. And we must go on living to be worthy of his memory.

What strategic thinking has done for me

I started this post with my mind in a mess, and not knowing where this would lead me. But I have applied the process as was designed and taught, and it has brought me to a different point of view than when I first started. But it was not easy because it required me to be open to the process, open to the thoughts, and open to the conclusions. It has led me to see that strategic thinking can be applied to something so personal and so dear as the loss of a loved one. And that is good.

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