Part of Every Misery is Misery’s Shadow-C.S. Lewis
TW: This post is about Grief and Loss, but also about Hope and Resilience. If you feel it can be triggering for you at the moment, please visit the post whenever you are ready.
A week ago, I lost one of my Kitten, Flora. When I used the word “Lost”, some of my friends thought she went missing. No, I did not mean she went missing, I meant she passed away. That’s when I realized, how we all associate differently through words when we lose someone. How we feel differently, how we grieve differently.
It took me few hours to digest the news, I curbed all the emotions inside as I had Fanny at home, how do I tell him, his sister will never return. This is the first time ever, me having had pets at home. Although I have mostly been with animals and taken care of them wherever I travelled, this one was tough. I can feel the grief strangling my throat, I held Fanny on my lap and started sobbing loudly.
I felt this dire need of talking to someone, the first person that came to my mind was my Father. This was surprising as we don’t exchange conversations emotionally, we never have. So many thoughts ran in my head, I trashed them all, picked up my phone and called him.
It was the most comforting talk I ever received, I was surprised by the way he handled the whole situation. Not once he blamed me for opening the door for the Kitten to go out like others did. Not once he made me feel guilty like others did. I felt lighter on my heart, I could feel my nerves calming and blood flowing at its normal speed.
But, the suffering didn’t stop there. All I thought was, only if we spoke to each other like this 7 years ago when my Mother passed away.
Whenever I thought of Flora and cried, I knew I thought of my mother and cried too. It has happened every time the last 7 years, every time I hear someone has passed, I have always thought of my mother and cried. I did a little introspection and went 7 years behind, to see what I did after I lost my mother. I barely allowed myself to experience the pain, I left home and travelled around, I got into toxic relationships repeatedly, I didn’t share a good relationship with my father and brother, I didn’t take care of my finances, I made bad decisions over and over and over!
You see, we all deal with grief differently! I didn’t grieve, I just ran away every time trying to prove myself and show the world that I am strong, that’s what everybody told me-Stay strong! Okay, here you go, I am leaving home and that proves that I am strong, I am not crying, I am strong, I don’t care what my family thinks about me, I am strong!
What I want to talk about is, how the people around us make us feel when we are in pain of losing someone. I have noticed and experienced 2 kinds of people:
- They go silent, no talks for years.
- They speak insensitively, without even giving a single thought that the other person is already in pain.
They may be thinking that they are speaking right, that’s why they speak, but most of the time it comes out insensitive to the person who is listening, and especially when they are in pain! I remember this family friend of mine, who said; Only If you would have got married, your mother would have been happy. I am sure, this statement is quite relatable to many as in India Marriage is the only possible solution for any problem in the world! (Wish it could cure ALS and Cancer you know)
Understand that, the person who is grieving will already be feeling guilty, if they could have done something, this may have not happened. So don’t rub your hollowness on the burning fire already! If you cannot comfort the person, you can make a choice of being 1, by not talking at all! All of these insensitive talks took me 7 years to realize what is that I was holding on to, so much in my heart!
In December 2020, I was going through some rough patches, as usual with my bad decisions and I came across this book lying on my shelf called “Option B”! This book looked brand new, I have no idea who gave it to me or how it came on my shelf! It seemed like, it was asking me to read. So I started reading and got hooked on it! It’s a story of Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook on how she coped herself after her husband’s untimely death.
In the first chapter, she talks about 3 P’s that I could relate to every bit of it! Here is an excerpt:
“We plant the seeds of resilience in the ways we process negative events. After spending decades studying how people deal with setbacks, psychologist Martin Seligman found that three P’s can stunt recovery: (1) Personalization-the belief that we are at fault; (2) Pervasiveness-the belief that an event will affect all areas of our life; and (3) Permanence—the belief that the aftershocks of the event will last forever”.
I always thought of all these 3 after my mother’s death, and most of the time I was in denial too! See the contradiction, instead of solving what I really felt, I just denied saying that it will pass because I am strong. During those times, mental health wasn’t really spoken as much as it is now. I did not really have anyone telling me to seek a therapist and I am sure I would have told myself that I am strong and I don’t need anyone to solve my problems.
2 years ago, I had these terrible attacks on my body, while I am asleep I could feel my body moving up and falling down. Huge shivers and that got me into high anxiety of me dying with the same ailment that my mother had! That weekend I came to Bengaluru, and visited the hospital and told the doctor about my symptoms, I can’t forget this day as it turned out hilarious as this doctor was an elderly man and he sort of yelled at me in Kannada like- what BS are you talking about? And referred me to a Psychiatrist.
Apparently, I have been living with this fear of me dying the same way my mother did, As I saw her all through her journey; I developed this fear every time I see any small change in my body, I would imagine that I would die. It is a very common thing for anyone, who has seen their close family members die due to an ailment.
I went through many sessions, I would feel better and the anxiety would come back. It’s a loop, but there was one thing about me, How much ever rock bottom I hit, I knew in my gut that I would come back again! I know that I am resilient and I can make this life a memorable event! But, what sometimes bugs me a lot is, only if people around me were supportive and kind enough, I wouldn’t have reached this point! It took me 7 damn years, to openly talk about grief that I was too cool to not talk about.
So here I am, talking about something that I held so painfully inside in a cage and locked it with a beautiful lock. I am opening the key and throwing the key away to open myself to grow lots and lots of flowers around the grief. I know the grief will be there, whether to suffer with it or not is my choice. I chose not to, even if I do; I know I will come back and plant a flower around it!
I remember my therapist, telling me; you know the void is going to be there; that emptiness will be there. You will just learn to live around it!
Here’s to normalising grief!