COLUMN: Difficult time for those who lost a loved one

Ken Herar’s father, Tok, passed away in November, a month before Christmas

Tok Herar assed away in November.

As Christmas fast approaches, it’s beautiful to see the spirit and joy around the season.

For those families, who have lost loved ones it can be a difficult time no matter how long it’s been. For our family, it’s been a difficult journey over the past month, since my father died, and it seems like it doesn’t get any easier with time, especially for my mom Kuldip.

My parents were married for 51 years. Grieving is a process and there are definitely good and bad moments and group hugs are a necessity.

Angel Elias from the Mission Hospice Society said, “The grieving process takes time. Healing happens gradually; it can’t be forced or hurried – and there is no ‘normal’ timetable for grieving. Some people start to feel better in weeks or months. For others, the grieving process is measured in years. Whatever your grief experience, it’s important to be patient with yourself and allow the process to naturally unfold. Remember, grief is not an event, it is a process that takes time to heal.”

My father, Tok passed away suddenly on Nov. 20, at the age of 84 and this is one of the few columns he will never read of mine.

He was a true pioneer in so many ways in the Fraser Valley, coming to Canada in 1952. He knew all the legends in the community, and shared their stories and activities to a new generation.

My father was one of the few that were left from a time, where people softly spoke about their struggles and hardships with dignity and proved that we could all live as one and make Canada to what it is today.

Dad was a true ambassador of Mission, which he loved and cared for, and a diplomat in negations to get projects completed so it can further the community. A real go-getter, in simple terms.

Mayor Randy Hawes referred to him as an “iconic figure in our community and he will be missed.”

He, had tons of time for people and loved to listen and provide guidance, being a respected statesman and Rotarian for 56 years with perfect attendance.

Going through the endless amount of pictures and conversations, he excelled at all most everything, whether it be on the tennis court, badminton or the soccer pitch. He was a fierce competitor and a legendary coach, who often found the good in people. As a family we have found enormous comfort in all that has been shared to date and appreciate the outpouring of grief.

Going through the funeral services is not an easy process by any stretch of the imagination. In Sikh customs mourners come to the home and pay respect to the family of the deceased. In preparations for the funeral members of the family bath the body and dress it for viewing, which many funeral directors have commented to be a healthy concept.

For me, this was tough, but it had to be done. Sikh funerals are generally open casket so mourners can pay their final respects and there is usually a turban or head covering on the deceased. I personally, am not comfortable in viewing the body, but in Sikh traditions it’s an important part of the farewell.

The remains of the five hour cremation are usually scattered in moving water, by family, to free the soul in its journey. After the service mourners gather at the Sikh temple for a prayers service and light meal. For some families, they will not celebrate any occasion for an entire year.

Mike de Jong MLA for Abbotsford West said, “For Tok Herar, working hard to earn a living was important because it provided him with the means to support the family he loved with all his heart. But ask anyone who knew Tok and they will tell you that for him the noblest calling of all was service in the cause of the community. He sought neither thanks nor recognition but is deserving of both for the countless hours he spent to make Mission, British Columbia and Canada a better place. His sense of civic duty will live on in the hearts of his wife, children and grandchildren who will miss him dearly.

“Tok lead by example. His was a life of volunteerism and philanthropy. We are all the richer for having known him and can honour him best by following his example of community service.”

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