Some days back I happened to attend the funeral function of one of my neighbour. It was an early and untimely death. He was only forty-five years old and the father of two young children, seventeen and fifteen years of age only. The death was predicted by a doctor one week back, as he was critically ill and was hospitalized in the ICU. But the whole episode of the bereavement was however unpredicted and a totally unwanted visitor for the family. When the news of the death came, I went to meet his wife and children.The wife was tired of crying and when I tried to console her, she said, “This vacation we were planning for a family tour. He was just back after an official tour, but suddenly fell ill and was hospitalized”. Her mother-in-law, couldn’t stop her tears and told me, “He is the one who had to do my last rituals, but…!!”. I couldn’t find words to console the children. For them, their daddy was the best and his loss was not something they could withstand.
The travel to the cemetery gave me some time to think about death. I kept thinking about the family. My thoughts forced me to put myself in her shoes who just lost her husband. The pain and agony were immense! With lots of responsibilities ahead, the wife who do not have a job or other source of income just appeared shattered! Probably there might not be much financial difficulty for some women in a similar situation, but the vacuum created by the absence of one’s husband would be terrible.
I accompanied the family to the cemetery (they belonged to the Christian religion and hence the body was getting buried). The bus stopped and everyone stepped out to the cemetery. This was the first time I was stepping into a cemetery. Seeing so many graves around, I was feeling a bit nervous and scared. The fear was not because of any filmy influence but because of the realization that we all have to come to this place one day!!
Is life a journey to this destination? If life is a journey and the destination is fixed, what changes is the time of reaching the destination, right?
Yes, “TIME” is the only factor that variesfor each of us. Some people get a longer time, others shorter.
Do we have any control over this time that we have? Though we can put the blame on God or say it in nice words, that, “God takes his beloved people earlier”, the fact is that we DO have some responsibility towards our life.
The above narration is from my blog post which I wrote in 2011. The man quoted was an alcoholic and died due to Liver Cirrhosis. The family narrated in the blog have moved on with their father’s death by selling off the properties they had and the children building their career. So, why did I write this now? Well, a similar incident happened today as I write this article on a late evening of September 2020. An acquaintance battled liver cirrhosis along with other illnesses and died. He was 48 years old and is survived by his wife and child. In this case, his wife is educated and could probably survive without much struggle despite his untimely death. But, what about the child who has lost her father untimely?
The main villain in both the above cases is severe Alcohol consumption. I am writing this from one state in India which is well-known for record alcohol consumption and the state’s exchequer can survive only with the contribution of the alcoholics who pay around 200% tax for getting their favourite beverage from retail outlets run by Government. On one side, without alcohol income, the Government cannot survive and on the other side, we read stories of families devastated, rise in domestic violence and crime and other health crisis due to heavy usage of alcohol. Rampant alcoholism among the youth coupled with drugs is indeed a ‘Damocles sword’ hanging over our society!
Coming to some statistics on the health factors, there has been a paradigm shift in the dynamics of liver cirrhosis and about 10 lakh new patients are diagnosed with it every year in India! Heavy drinking can make you more likely to get serious health problems like liver disease, cancerpeptic ulcers and many others. Regular or high alcohol use can hurt your heart and lead to diseases of the heart muscle, called cardiomyopathy. Drinking alcohol regularly also can raise your blood pressure and also weaken your sexual potentials. But most importantly, it impairs your reasoning and modifies your character in due course of time leading to bad interpersonal relationships and mental illnesses.
But what shocked me was the study that confirmed that People hospitalized with alcohol-use-disorder have an average life expectancy of 47–53 years (men) and 50–58 years (women) and die 24–28 years earlier than people in the general population (Westman et al, 2014)
Whatever be the reason, Can we ever LOVE an ACTOR who leaves the stage before the SHOW gets over?
According to me, alcoholic men are like actors who leaves the stage halfway! They are the people who could have played their full character role but ended up losing their lives due to their temporary joy of drinking than taking responsibility for their lives.
Some men fulfil their responsibility, others do not. Some husbands do their duty, others may not. Some fathers will be there for their children, while others leave them halfway. Why? Is it because such fathers think only about their temporary happiness? Or is it because such men do not plan for the future? Or is it because such husbands do not empower their wives?
Stories of wives who are devastated because of the untimely death of their husbands are increasing in our society. Who should be blamed for the situation? The habit of alcohol consumption?Or the man who did not empower his wife? Or the Government which gets the highest revenue from the sale of alcohol? Imagine the struggles of a woman – especially if she is not financially independent? She has to not only fend for herself but also for her children and live with respect in a society which is inconsiderate to her woes and problems. Widowhood is, indeed, a curse in the patriarchal Indian society.
If you are a husband and you consume alcohol, why don’t you consider yourself as your wife for a moment and think about this situation? If you are yet to become a husband, take a pledge against alcoholism today and secure the future of you and your family.If you are a wife, why don’t you share this article to your husband? If you are a girl seeking a partner, why don’t you discuss alcohol consumption pattern before deciding your marriage/partnering?Yes, these are possibilities but, the most unfortunate are the children!They cannot get a happy childhood with an alcoholic parent and neither can they influence much to change their parent’s habits or even escape from such homes. My heart goes out to such children.
It is time to think and take strong social action against Alcohol menace.
And yes, Say Cheers to Life & not to Alcohol!
Westman, J., Wahlbeck, K., Laursen, T. M., Gissler, M., Nordentoft, M., Hällgren, J., Arffman, M., &Ösby, U. (2015). Mortality and life expectancy of people with alcohol use disorder in Denmark, Finland and Sweden. Acta psychiatricaScandinavica, 131(4), 297–306. https://doi.org/10.1111/acps.12330
#CeeVee is the brand name of Dr. Chandra Vadhana.
Dr. Chandra Vadhana
Founder and Chief Mentor,