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Loss of a loved one is a life-altering event. You never stay the same anymore. It becomes a part of you and your personality. The sooner you accept it the better.
Dealing with the loss of a loved one is a never-ending journey in search of the alluring light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel. The loss itself is so emotional that mere words cannot confine the essence, so private that anyone other than you won’t understand what you are feeling, thus it is inconsequential here.
The journey is about survival. The most significant phase of this journey is when you acquire enough courage to look back to that day and see how it changed your life so far. Personally, it took me more than a year to look back and live over the day I lost my father. Facing how an ‘ordinary day’ changed to an ‘unusual’ one, without an emotional breakdown, turned out to be my first step towards a million mile journey, the journey of survival.
An immediate response to such painful loss is denial. Putting up a facade gives you an unreal peace of mind, a temporary easy way out. But eventually, reality slowly seeps in. The higher the barrier you create, the fiercer the effect of sorrow will be on you. Nevertheless, it helps you to deal with it at your pace and time.
There were many moments when I closed my eyes and let myself believe everything is alright in the world. The numerous missed calls I made to my father’s cell, how I stopped talking about him altogether, the way I never told my preschool daughter that she lost her most favorite person in the world, all this temporarily alleviated the dull ache in my heart.
But once reality sets in, the blame game begins, which makes you question everything and anything around you. ‘Why me’? ‘What did I do wrong to deserve this?’ A million questions which can never be answered pop into your head.
My personal spiritual beliefs pointed towards a ‘karmic cycle’. But is sorrow really a karmic derivative? Much to my dismay, the karmic solution lies way beyond my human comprehension. Even if we keep track of the good or not so good deeds of our lifetime, we will never know if those go to the debit or credit column of the Karma tally. There was a recent news report about how a man rescued a rabbit from the Northern California wildfire and how he might have made it worse for the rabbits. A rather innocuous deed turned into a problematic one and yet again we fail to comprehend the grand scheme of the Universe.
Another way to distract your mind is to start thinking of alternative scenarios. The ‘what if’s will echo in your head perpetually. The could-have-been happy scenarios, and the possible turn of events, will occupy your mind long enough. There will be an infinite number of things which you could have done better or you should have avoided and all those memories make a stunning re-entry to intensify the suffering. It is like poking to see if the wound still bleeds. I did this self-torture for a while before realizing the futility of it. How much ever you poke around the past, it never changes and the best version of past is what was actually rendered.
When you run out of excuses to occupy your mind, it will eventually circle back to the raw sorrow of the loss. When you hide the remains of sorrow deep inside you, they turn into little seeds. You will never know when these seedlings become an all-devouring monster trees. The ways of sorrow are grappling and eventually, it will hide even the brightest sun. The ways depression can hit you is unimaginable. There was a time when I was addicted to mirrors. The moment when your eyes are filled with tears, and when you almost close the eyelids, you see make-believe images on the mirror, you see shapes, and wonder what are they. It took me a while to realize no matter what I imagine, it will be only me in that mirror. That realization and acceptance will help you pull out of such pitstops before the tipping point.
The only bright spot in this journey is that you get to feel your red threads of fate along the way, the eensy red threads which connect your destiny with many others. Even a smile from a stranger you meet on your morning walks becomes a firefly in your low lit sky. They might have never thought twice about it, but there are many times, when a smile and a hello from complete strangers lingered inside and brightened my mind. You will find your own tethers and hinges to keep you earthbound. No matter how down you are, there are hands which lift you up and refuse to leave you ever, its all about recognizing the love of family and friends. During the lowest of my lows, a worldly wise man told me ‘to count your blessings’ and I literally did that and the list turned out to be my anchor to life.
Over the past few months, I have read a gazillion articles on how to handle loss and went on from one thing to another in a loop trying to get a grip. None of them worked. None of them works. None of them will. You can get distracted and train your memory to forget it but from time to time the pain resurfaces. The weight of loss never leaves you even with time. It is something time can never heal. Eventually, you will learn to run with it or make peace with it in your own way. But the bruise stays with you forever festering and healing along with the ups and downs of your life. Once you see the Threstalls, there is no unseeing it.
Loss of a loved one is a life-altering event. You never stay the same anymore. It becomes a part of you and your personality. The sooner you accept it the better. It changes you in ways you can’t even anticipate. It uproots few emotions and plants an entirely new range of emotions. It makes you aware of the mortality, it makes you value the tethers and hinges of your life. The loss, sorrows, trauma, we would be much lighter without any of these. Since the fate has chosen to tread along this path, its better to assimilate the best parts of it, the heightened empathy, a better self who appreciates the value of people around you, to name a few. Every day I strive to be the best version of me in the eyes of my late father and along with time, I hope it becomes my second nature. That would be the best eulogy I can ever give him.
Published here earlier.
Image source: pexels