Last 15 and a half months have been an unprecedented period of our lives. Ofcourse 26 June 2020 came as blow of an iron rod over our heads, when Fasih, suddenly left us on a one way ticket to Heavens.
It took us( Fatima, Ismail and myself) through a dark tunnel with long periods of fear, despondency and unsurety of what is in store in our lives now.
All three of is reacted differently.
In times of social isolation, lockdown, I opened up and shared my sentiments and memories through my social media posts. It all began very organically without a plan.
Fatima was strongly supported by her sensitive husband and hence cried her heart out thousands of times over his shoulders.
Ismail just became mute. He stopped expressing himself, and just stayed on a 24×7 alert watching over me, making sure Ammi wasn’t going away like Papa. A typical boy who had grown up and apart , again became very close to me.
Nevertheless we all took grief sessions independently with clinical psychologists to come to terms with what had happened. In the 6 months that we spent crying, laughing and remembering Fasih together in Karachi, Rahma was our therapist.
After kids left, it has given me a good window of opportunity to learn to get used to my own company and to reflect on my life, on my own being, in my empty nest.
There have been some pearls wisdom that I have gained( wouldn’t call them lessons) through the first hand experience and these deeper reflections, which I have been jotting down over past few day, and share them here:
- Be open and unfiltered about your grief, as this is the only thing that will help one to come to terms with the loss. Internalizing emotions can only make this journey harder.
- Keep your immediate family close to you. They are all grieving in their own ways. Hug them tight and often and cherish their physical presence.
- Seek professional help if possible. There is no stigma in doing that. I did even have to take Prozac, an antidepressant for 6 weeks when counseling wasn’t working.
- Know that only you can rescue yourself out of this grief. No one else can. Professional help will only assist you.
- Do not pin undue hopes and expectations from other family members and friends. Whatever support they are giving or not giving is as per their capacity and capability. They too have serious challenges in their lives to deal with. Forgive if you have any bitterness from some.
- Do not forget those family and friends who have gone extra mile for you in this most difficult time. NEVER EVER FORGET THEM.
- Be mindful of your strengths and weaknesses as these are the only tools that will help you come back or pull you down respectively in grief.
- Since I lost my spouse, a companion, I consciously began to learn to get used to my own company. No kids, no sibling, no friend, no staff can fill that void. So it is important to turn your pitiable loneliness into a calm comfortable solitude.
- Do what you love, so life does not appear a burden. This is easier said than done, but luckily the work I do for an earning is what I dearly love too. So it has worked well.
- Hone the hobbies, which may have been kept on a back burner in the past due to other responsibilities. It is absolutely therapeutic eg my silk painting and my blog writing.
- Know that some genuine friends can be family too. I had never in my life traveled or spent vacations without a family. But when I did with a genuine friend, I realized this can be very fulfilling too.
- Come to terms with the fact that you can still live a life, enjoy a meal, bingewatch Netflix all by yourself.
- Do not become a burden on your children. They have their life to live. At times, I ask myself, did I sacrifice my happiness when my mother lost her spouse? So why should I become a liability on my kids. They are already very concerned and supportive. Why push them for more?
- You will get real happiness now only by showing compassion to others, who are in a difficult situation, sometimes more difficult than your own.
- Never ever compare your life with anyone else’s. All may look very happy unlike you. But everyone has a struggle, which could be different from our own, and maybe more grim than our own. Even if not, comparing will never bring you happiness.
- Last but not the least, if you are an empowered, economically independent person and remain so after the loss of your loved one(especially a spouse), be grateful, very very grateful, as for many, life turns upside down especially after the breadwinner goes.
- And ofcpurse, keep sending love to your loved one by thinking about them and talking about them. Nothing is more empowering than remembering the beautiful times spent with them with a twinkle in the eyes and a wide smile.
I have nothing but gratitude to all who read my some 40 plus blog posts in the past year, on my grief. Thank you for lending me your attention in this ocean of social media.
Will end with Susan Froybort’s powerful poem Worry’s Cure: