“Don’t grieve. Anything you lose comes round in another form.” ? — Rumi
Nothing and nobody can prepare one for loss of a dear one. But talking about the experience and experiencing it personally are two very different things. Nothing and nobody can be prepared for it.
Though no words can justify the emotions but if one is really forced to put them in words then vaguely it would feel like — extreme pain somewhere inside beyond any comparison, a sinking feeling haunts every single moment of the day, the vacuum-like emptiness does not leave one's side, the yearning to have 'at least one more day with the loved one' doesn't end, but this is not all. The overwhelming emotions of loss and void just seem to trample one, leaving one exhausted and gasping for some anchor, some foundation to hold on to. There is no set pattern of grieving and every individual goes through this phase in a very unique way. Doreen Virtue and James Van Praagh in their book How to Heal a Grieving Heart write, “Grief, like love, is immeasurable. No one loves the same, not grieves the same. Some people demonstrate their sorrow openly, while others keep it deep within their being. It is a very personal, human and spiritual experience.”
(Un)knowingly we tend to define our identity with the relationships that we form with other individuals here in our mortal bodies. Going away of one of these — a spouse, a parent, a sibling, a child or a dear friend — makes one question life itself. One feels as if one is to re-learn to live minus that very significant one. Logic and reason don't work at times like these for a grieving heart and soul. In spite of the wisdom that everyone seems to carry right from the very early age that everyone has to go and it is the cycle of life; yet when it comes to actually facing that time, one feels quite ill-equipped and unprepared.
What the bereaved heart needs at that time is an empathetic support, a compassionate shoulder to cry on and a non-judgmental listener. The best that the support system can do at that time is to observe patience and wait for the person to slowly stand again mending a broken heart. Questioning the dejected person, “Why are you taking so long to come out of mourning”, or trying to give advice, does not help, rather it alienates the person further.As Sheryl Sandberg (COO, Facebook) in her letter, post the loss of her husband says,“Real empathy is sometimes not insisting that it will be okay but acknowledging that it is not.”
With family sizes getting reduced and people being connected virtually more than physically, the support system that was so naturally available earlier is dwindling now. Most of the times, one grapples with the changed reality on one's own. The lifestyles and times have changed, and not many have the patience, energy and compassion to offer that warm, unconditional support. Most often, the grief=stricken person needs to make an effort to crawl out from darkness of dejection to the light of hope. Experts suggest some proven strategies that may help one through a healthy and effective grief experience — Be gentle with yourself and be patient, take care of your body, demand the right to grieve in your own way, cling to hope — things do get better, trust the grief as a best friend, don't try to numb the experience by any external aids'.
For many it is nothing less than catharsis as one faces the reality of life from so close. As one slowly learns to carry on with the life once again, there are a few things which help along the way to set pace on the path to recovery. Resuming the earlier set routine and the activities that one earlier engaged in are the easiest things to start from, although even the simplest tasks seem to demand much more effort now. It helps to bring back the faith on whatever that brings peace for the person. Long walks, yoga, meditation, chanting, listening to discourses, reading and similar such activities, help bring some succour to the battered soul.
One thing one must remember, there is no right or wrong way to grieve and there is no time limit to it either. It is a human emotion that must be duly acknowledged and gradually time does put healing balms on the wounds. Though the mark of a wound will always remain but then who wants to erase the memories anyway.
“The deeper that sorrow carves into your being the more joy you can contain. Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter's oven?”
— Khalil Gibran
This appeared in 'The Tribune' on 23rd Aug, 2015.