Posted by: dlip | May 2, 2009

The poem on my sister’s grave

“Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there; I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow,
I am the sun on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circling flight.
I am the soft starlight at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there; I did not die.”
Mary Elizabeth Frye

Last year on April 9th, 2008, my sister Vinita Shivdasani nee Singha died. She went in for a minor surgery for gallstones and after, what was claimed to be a successful minor operation, her heart collapsed. SMS messages flew back and forth: ‘her heart is beating with meds’ ‘we are waiting and watching, pray’; the usual. But, it seemed the Lord had need of her. And before we knew it, it was over, her work here was finished.

She was our mischievous one, our little rebel, the butt of a lot of teasing and jokes,pranks we’ve never forgotten. The stories are legion and would provide material for another post altogether.  What was amazing and heartwarming for us, her family and friends who knew her from her childhood and through her rebellious years, was to learn at her funeral service how she’d grown in her faith, maturity and kindness. The number of people she had helped and comforted, encouraged and stood by in Kolkata (Calcutta). How active a church member she had been. Hearing all this made us proud to say, “this was my sister”.

For those of us who look for signs; something interesting and very encouraging happened at the funeral service. During the speeches and prayers, through the tears and memories, the church was filled with a number of butterflies and one kept hovering around my brother-in-law. As the coffin was carried out, and we followed it up the aisle and through the door, that butterfly alighted several times on his shoulder and flew out into the churchyard with him.

This year, we had a memorial service at her grave. The poem above was engraved in its entirety on the deep grey granite stone on her grave. There was a ceremony arranged by her husband, Mohan and two sons, Aakash and Varun.  It was a befitting memorial to a person who had lighted upon the earth as a blithe spirit and left it, much like a butterfly. And like that lovely creature, she brought joy and smiles, laughter and hope to so many. And just how many, we learnt at her funeral and again this year at the graveyeard on April 9th. And once again, one butterfly from many in that green cemetery, chose to come and hover over the grave and around the flowers, it stayed while others came and went.

I like to believe it was a messenger to tell us that she was somewhere spreading joy and happiness, and like the poem that she was in the gentle wind that stirred the green leaves in the cemetery.



  1. May you find solace from the deep love you have expressed in this wonderful post.

  2. […] The poem on my sister’s grave May 2009 1 comment 5 […]

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