It has been a surreal start to 2016 and one that has made me reflect on the human condition more than ever before. I have concluded that the reason for this is partly because of recent sad events, but also because as one gets older, one tends to question the meaning of life and events more often.

After what had been a fun and chilled New Year’s Eve with dear friends, January began with the rather abrupt return to routine but equally, with the usual promise of new beginnings. One monday morning I woke to hear the news that one of my musical heroes, David Bowie, who had only days earlier presented the world with a gift of a brilliant new album, had died! He had vanished off the face of the earth. I was shocked, bewildered and confused. This ethereal Starman whose music and presence had held me captivated and mesmerised for so long, had returned to the planet whence he came.

Sonja Shah-Williams Ayurvedic Medicine Practitioner Ayurveda London


Only 9 days later, and again without warning, the lovely, sweet, kind and gentle husband of a very dear friend, a man about whom I had talked only days before, because his throaty laugh and beaming smile were so reminiscent of my above-mentioned hero, suddenly and unexpectedly died and vanished too. He was also a hero, to his beautiful six year old, my god-daughter.

The stark and painful reminder of my own mortality had arrived in a double- dose. I could not be of any help, of course, in giving David Bowie a fitting goodbye, but I was determined to help my dear friend to plan and deliver a funeral that celebrated and captured the true essence of the man she had shared her life with. As funerals go, I have to admit that it was an amazing event filled with love, gratitude and laughter- and he would have wanted the laughter!

Loss associated with bereavement is only apparent to us because we love and attach ourselves to others as we journey through our lives. We cannot feel this loss unless we feel love. It is also the emotion we most wish to avoid; the many other emotions we experience are not associated with finality. Anger comes and goes, as do envy and greed, but they do not sit with us forever- in fact they help to teach us to become better, happier human beings and to learn how to invite them to visit less often. We come to realise that they are futile and unbecoming. Not so with loss, for it hangs around dark, eerie corners; loss is an opportunist waiting to pounce and penetrate our core; a nagging, gnawing reminder of the frailty of the human condition. We are constantly reminded that life is short and that we must seize the moment, but most of the time we are all too busy with the minutiae of our existence to stop and appreciate those who make it all worthwhile.

When we are faced with loss of immediate family, the structure that is our life comes crashing down, and all we can do is to carefully start to rebuild it brick by brick. As with all structures, it will take time to take shape again, but take shape it will- although with different contours. Life cannot remain the same shape for too long, for it is as restless as a sea storm. It comes with its ebbs and flows. Changes in our lives are many, and I believe that as we get older, we come to accept them more readily and arrive at a deeper understanding of the laws of nature that govern all life.

In Ayurvedic philosophy, we teach others about how to nurture their health and wellbeing and ride the tides of change. Ayurveda sees change as negative only when it is not addressed. If our eating habits or lifestyle choices bring negative consequences, we have to change them to redress the imbalance. We can do this through understanding the key principles of Ayurveda. We need healthy minds as well as healthy bodies in order to tolerate changes with humility. When someone we love dies and the change is too severe to comprehend, we can in time, look at the positives that can be achieved through this loss.

David Bowie had time to accept his imminent demise and decided to do what he did best and so magnificently, to write and record a legacy to the world, his album Blackstar. Sadly, my friend did not have any warning of his untimely death, but his partner is determined to take on all the projects they had planned together, and with the help of those who love her and loved him, complete them the way he intended. She will ensure that their beautiful daughter, a fabulous combination of them both, will always remember her Daddy’s Bowie smile, his deep belly laugh and his unquantifiable love for her.

RIP two heroes.