The right way to grieve.

Some days have been so bad that it was impossible to do or feel anything but pain. Nothing mattered. A friend said maybe I was in shock earlier and she suggested I don’t avoid this pain. This is what I don’t understand – am I avoiding  the pain? How does one avoid the pain? I don’t think I have any control over this. I don’t cry much but the possibility of any more pain is  very  frightening. I have read that ‘there is no normal way to grieve‘, but still it worries me to read, (in ‘SOME THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW WHEN YOUR CHILD HAS DIED‘)

•    Grief Waits. If you put it away and try to ignore it, it will simply wait until you have no choice but to experience it.

•    We grieve as intensely as we love.

•   You will never be the same person you were before your loss.

I can agree with this… but it will be a while before the changing will stop. Till then there is some confusion, we have kept some decisions on hold for six months to a year, because I am not sure how I feel.

One of the friends who visited me said I was handling it much better than another mother she knew. This mutual acquaintance had lost her only son in an air crash, he was training to be a pilot. I had met them years ago when we used to take our kids to the same park every evening and I remember a good looking, smart and sensitive 8 year old.  I remember the proud mother, even then she was very close to  the son. The friend said she had seen how ‘badly’ the mother “handled it from day one“. Friends advised her to ‘get over it’ and to ‘move on‘ … Now I wish I could meet this mother (and I will, she lives in the NCR).

I wish we had more awareness about Grief Counseling and we understood the difference between Grief, Complicated Grief and Depression and how to help with each. Here’s something I agree with,

Avoid Judgment. “You should …….”, “You shouldn’t ……” are not appropriate or helpful.

Everyone grieves differently and therefore the grief process should not be rushed.

Some parents will be “fine” and then experience deep grief a year or two later; others grieve immediately.

There are no standard timetables for recovery.

Encourage bereaved families to be patient with themselves.

“Get on with your life.” “Aren’t you over it yet?” “It’s time to put it behind you and move on.” Those demands are unfair and unrealistic.

I wish more of us understood that :-

•    There is no “normal” in grieving.

•    There are no set-in-concrete stages or timelines in grief.

•    It is typical to feel almost numb for the first few months. When that “fog” lifts, it can be very frightening.  Think of it as a wave and ride it out.

I have read (and experienced) that the grief of child loss feels like drowning – you go down and you come up gasping for air and then you sink again, but slowly you can hope to have longer moments to breath.

•   Talking to and being with other bereaved parents is extremely helpful.

•    Other people will not understand your grief unless you share it.

•    It is okay to talk about your child as long as you want.

But it is difficult to find someone who would listen, so sharing with The Compassionate Friends helps. Here when we share our story, we feel better and we let another parent know thatThe grief journey is long, but they need not walk alone.

Abhilasha sent me this,

“Read about grief and shock. Learning about the symptoms that others have experienced helps you know you are normal and not going crazy when your grief is so deep and your pain so intense that you can hardly see two feet in front of you because of the fog of agony that surrounds you.

A friend said Buddhism believes that Death should be talked about as a fact of life – because this is the only thing in this world that is certain. It helps if we accept the ‘Eternal Law’ that everybody who is born is going to die.  I wanted to hear more about this and she requested Anand (from SGI, Soka Gokkai International) to meet us.  Anand visited us and discussed how each one of us has  a reservoir of strength within us – how each one of us is capable of finding  this strength and wisdom within us. About how it is not possible to control what life gives us – but we can control how we react to it. We do have the choice to be elevated and strengthened, or to be broken by our biggest loss.

And yet there are days when I don’t care if I am broken and life seems meaningless. Nothing matters. After reading  experiences of others who have been through the same pain on The Compassionate Friends – I realised it’s normal to feel this way. In fact Darcie D. Sims said ‘Grief is the price we pay for love.’

Even during the worst moments browsing through links (Thanks for  sending those…) that support parents who are grieving helps immensely.  One reads about other parents who feel the pain one is feeling. Nobody else can understand the pain and nothing else helps as much.

A 19 year old girl Jyoti died of Dengue on 11th Sept, in Artemis, Gurgaon. (Hindustan Times, Gurgaon edition, page 4). No other details were provided and calling the hospital didn’t help. I wanted to meet the parents.

We have initiated the registering of a ‘Tejaswee Rao Memorial Trust’. Will keep you updated.

I have ordered ‘The year of magical thinking‘ through Flipcart.

KEY POINTS ABOUT GRIEF


•    Grief is a universal response to significant loss.

•    Grief is extremely powerful.

Understanding the process and knowing what to expect can help you cope.

•    The worst kind of grief is the grief you’re experiencing now.

•    Grief work is very hard and takes enormous energy.

•    How grief is expressed varies among individuals.

•    Certain manifestations of grief are common and normal.

•    Grief is a lifelong process.

•    Grief changes through the years.

•    Death may have ended your loved one’s life, but it did not end your relationship.

•    Time does not heal grief; it’s what we do with the time that matters.

•    Effective grieving is not done alone.


– Marty Tousley CNS-BC, FT, in Finding Your Way through Grief: A Guide for the First Year

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57 thoughts on “The right way to grieve.

  1. IHM I cannot tell you how much I want to meet you and hug you and tell you that you are doing a great job. I agree there is no right way to grieve. And there is nothing wrong in putting off talking about that one thing that will hurt you all the more. I wish there was a way to let you know that we are all thinking about you every single day and every tear that you shed will only make you stronger.
    Hugs dear IHM and please let me know if there is some way in which we can contribute monetarily or otherwise in your pursuits to remember Tejaswee.

  2. I agree, each has his or her own reaction to grief. I have an aunt whose daughter (who was like my sister to me)died and I remember her saying, “there is no grief than loosing your child, it remains with u each moment of your life, every year, when you think she would be ..years now or she would have a daughter by now…”
    The grief will remain…but life still goes on, albiet without your near ones, and you too come to terms with that at some point of time…

  3. There is no right way or normal way to grieve, each one differs in the way they do.
    And ‘“Get on with your life.” “Aren’t you over it yet?” “It’s time to put it behind you and move on.” are certainly not words to be spoken. I have found a lot of people saying these type of sentences as a means of consoling the bereaved. Is it ignorance that makes them do it, I have wondered. I do hear such meaningless sentences (to me) being flung at bereaved people. It is true that those who have not gone through the experience of loss do not know the extent of grief; even the more sensitive among them can only guess.
    Hugs IHM.

  4. Hey IHM,
    May God bless you to handle this situation well..At least you are writing out your burden..It will help you move on..I actually don’t know what more to tell you :(

  5. It’s heart-rending to see you dealing with your grief but good to see you back on your blog again. It’s worrying when you’re silent. You’re doing very well in this first, most difficult phase. Eventually time itself will ease the pain.

  6. I would think it wrong to generalise the time required for getting over a loss.Infact,I dont think anyone gets over it completely but that,we merely learn to live with the pain and move ahead in life.All I can tell you is to pray and keep up ur belief in the almighty. Tejaswee is seeing us all..

    Hugz

  7. I agree with you that there aren’t a series of steps. And most importantly we mustn’t feel “it should be this way” – no one understands the complexities of the human mind and anyone who claims to know the “correct” way to grieve is lying.

    One thing I do know however. And that is a time will come when you can resume your life. I don’t know when or how, and I can quite imagine that it seems that time will never arrive. But it will. Our mind can only take so much pressure for so long.

    Hang in there…

  8. Like Shail di said, i don’t think there’s a right way to grief.. you just deal with it.. sometimes it is something that has worked for many people, otherwise it is unique. My dad died when I was young, but then i wasn’t that connected and close to him as you were to her. So I will try not to give you tips and poppers.. just stay well

  9. “Death may have ended your loved one’s life, but it did not end your relationship”

    very true!

    Please know that you, Tejaswee and rest of the family are in my thoughts and prayers.
    May God bless you and strengthen you.

  10. Hugs IHM. Your loss is irreplaceable and it is very natural to grieve and sometimes feel strong and sometimes not. As you and many have said, there is nothing right or wrong. You have to follow your feelings as day goes by.

  11. Grief is never done with…how can it be…we can’t stop loving the person, can we?

    After almost eleven years, I can safely say, our definition of ‘ moving on’ is wrong. If you’re living, you’re moving on. It’s nobody’s business to judge our activities, thoughts and feelings and to say, “Ok now she has moved on from her loss”. It stays with you, ebbing and flowing, there will be days, months and even years when you’re fine and then it will all overwhelm you again, in response to something, and that’s also ok.

    “Get on with your life” is another one. If someone chooses to sit around remembering or crying or just suspended in a state of shock and grief…they are still getting on, it’s a process that’s different for everyone and for each loss. Just as long as it’s not dangerous to health and life, any way of dealing with grief is fine.

    It does feel like one can’t breathe with the pain. And yet it’s important to feel that pain and be with it, sit through it when possible, and it stops hurting that much slowly…grief does wait around if you bury it.

    Big hugs.

  12. You are a rock, IHM, someone to look up to, someone to admire, especially in unimaginable times like this. Great that you have registered the trust in Tj’s name, that is so wonderful. God bless…

  13. Hi Aunty,

    I’m happy to know that you have accepted your loss and looking for ways to cope up with it. I don’t know your or TJ. I happened to see your blog today through some source. Aunty, please read this book ‘The Power’ by Rhonda Byrene. http://www.flipkart.com/power-rhonda-byrne-book-0857201700

    I believe it will help you heal yourself faster. My love for you and your family. Take care aunty.

    PS: The email provided is not a correct one. Just provided one because the field is mandatory.

  14. “there is no normal way to grieve.”

    IHM, I agree and you already know that I feel exactly the same. Your way of grieving is not for others to judge. There’s no time limit for it to get over. Even when you move on, memories linger. Life goes on and it takes memories along. We never stop remembering.

  15. Hi, IHM!

    Was looking for grief support groups in your area and only came across ones for parents of children with cancer. And even that was more about helping them cope with the last stages, not bereavement and they never wrote back. Would starting one be something you could think of, IHM? Like with your blog and thoughts, you would help a ton of people and hopefully help yourself, as much as you can, in as much time as you need.

    Lots of love.

  16. I truly wish I had the internet and had known you when I went through what I did. Believe me, I am drawing strength from your blog. A week ago, I opened my diary written after my brother’s death. For thirty years I did not. I wrote, came to terms and left it at that. Thank you IHM

  17. I wish I had known this while I was mourning my grandfather’s death…you have posted everything a grieving person needs to know…

    “Get on with your life.” “Aren’t you over it yet?” “It’s time to put it behind you and move on.” Those demands are unfair and unrealistic.
    totally agree…who are they to decide till what point your heart grieves?? :-|

    • Grief is a lifelong process.

    • Grief changes through the years.

    • Death may have ended your loved one’s life, but it did not end your relationship.

    • Time does not heal grief; it’s what we do with the time that matters.
    Thank you…I needed to hear that….
    There are times my grief comes up even now….and I dont know how to deal with it…
    Reading this has helped me…

    And IHM…you are really brave….hugs! Give it the course of time it needs….let your heart heal on its own…
    and in the meantime you know she is always there with you…

  18. IHM, There has not been a day that has went by that I havn’t thought about TJ. You must be so proud of her. I could tell before this happened that you were very close.

    I lost my brother in 1999, Mother in 2001 and father in 2003. I dream of them often and wish I could hear my Mother day “Sissy, please come back home, there’s nothing more important than family”

    Time will help. You will never stop loving or missing her. Some times I wonder why God took such an amazing young woman who truly enjoyed life. And I think that there is a reason we will never understand.

    My heart aches for you and I wish I could give you a hug.

    Teresa

      • @Ritu, I’m reading this book called Power of the Soul by John Holland…it’s got a lot of techniques and suggestions about dreaming and soul senses, synchronicity (coincidences), relationships, grieving, healing, prayer and reincarnation. Check it out, if you’re okay with stuff like this. :)

  19. very well written
    You are brave and i agree with you
    like the article it will help surely to everyone .
    Death may have ended your loved one’s life, but it did not end your relationship”

  20. love lives on…grief is just the part that carries the pain of loss to you..but love is what stays back. I know it…I went thru same emotions..though I lost my pet and some may say that’s not the same, i personally do not agree…because love is Love and pain is pain. Period..

  21. Crying would help, there has to be a reason why ability to cry exists in human..we often try to control ourself a lot, i m personally uncapable of crying and often have felt the need to do cry.. and dont read the self help crap.. its not going to help, it never helps anyone..
    just remember that it will take time to get over this, but eventually it will get over, the more you think about it, the more active the thoughts will become…

    i wouldnt have written this much, its just that you are going in wrong direction

    • Please avoid saying things like “you are going in wrong direction” etc. It can be very hurtful to a grieving person. What helps one person will be very different from what helps another.

    • I don’t agree, maya,…self-help and alternative stuff is what helped me survive and heal my own loss. What’s nonsense to one person could be a life-saver for another.

      And thinking about stuff actually takes away the intensity over time and heals. Avoiding it makes people physically or mentally ill…I’ve seen both types of attitudes and know this to be true.

  22. Dear IHM, however you feel, (and that may change from day to day), that is YOUR way of grieving, and as you’ve rightly said, there is no one right way of grieving. If you feel strong on some days, that is good, but if you feel helpless on others, that is right too. Reading and sharing can bring us understanding, but it cannot dissolve grief; I wish people who speak casually of ‘moving on’ etc could understand that. One cannot “will” grief away – it is only time that can reduce its sting (yet never remove it).

    Feel entitled to grieve as you like, and if on some days, you don’t grieve but remember the beauty of Tejaswee’s life, feel entitled to that too.

  23. Nice to know abt the Trust IHM.

    Sometimes, I feel that when ppl hv nthg to say or dnt know what to say, they end up uttering these standard things. I am myself at a loss of words and I hesitate talking to friends etc… during such times. There hv been times when I have called/ met them and just sat next to them, just stayed mum on the phone. But I think it helps them to know they have ppl with them.

    Hugs IHM. We are all with u. Let us know abt any help u wud require and we will def. try our best to do it.

  24. Each person grieves differently and some never pull out. This time during my vacation I had the opportunity to stay with a mother who experienced this grief in a terrible way. She lost her only daughter during child birth. She was this happy go lucky girl and a practicing advocate. As per the mother, there was no sign of any complications during delivery, yet they lost her. This is what she told me about the moment. Losing her was like seeing a precious glass drop down and break into million pieces. Nothing was ever the same and the loss will never be forgotten and moreover the daughter’s husband never remarried even after many years which added to their woes. If this was not enough, she later lost her eldest son to cancer. Yes.. she was driven to depression and never ventured out of the house for many years but it all changed once she started accepting the reality. I had a blessed time with her and learned much from her. She does a lot of community work and also goes to temples etc. to perform Poojas. She said she had always wanted to learn it and she did.
    IHM, the pain may never go away since a parent can never forget a child, but your courage lifts each one of us and for sure our prayers shall be with you and your family.

  25. Hugs IHM.

    Comparison of two people’s grief is absurd. Even more so is passing judgment on when someone should move on.

    I just wanted to let you know that we are all here and we’ll walk with you.

  26. Hugs, IHM! I agree with all that you’ve shared here.. There’s no normal way of grieving. Each person has his or her way to cope with grief. If talking about it helps, so be it. If staying recluse is what makes one feel better, so be it. If writing about it is what helps, then so be it too. Nobody can or should judge your way of grieving. So IHM, face your grief in whichever manner you feel you should and thats the way to go about it.

    And let me tell you, IHM, you have been coping with your grief in the most inspiring way possible. “Time does not heal grief, its what you do with the time that matters”, absolutely! Its wonderful to know that the Memorial Trust in Tejaswee’s name is on its way to getting registered. God bless!

  27. Dear IHM,

    As Swaram rightly says here , somtimes we are short of words to express our concern, care, sorrow etc. for the grieving person, but at times like these, it is the presence of a close friend or a relative who understands rather than words which helps out a person. Sometimes silence is golden.

    wishing you strength
    warm regards
    Rekha

  28. I am so glad you are sharing your thoughts here – we are listening…pls talk to us, through your blog.

    Hugs to you and I think no one knows how to handle the grief, except for that person, who is experiencing it.

    Good initiative – Tejaswee’s Trust.

  29. I have seen people telling to “move on”, and have realized that its too easy to say; but too difficult to do.We have our ways to handle it, like you told, some may cry out, but some may take yrs..
    I have seen my father grieving over her mothers death years after her death. He is one of the strongest people i have seen, but even he had to handle the pain. I wont say that its a matter of time, coz i have realised that time doesnt heal anything, you just start accepting things the way it is. Sometimes even silence is the best way to grieve.. tc

  30. Hugs, IHM. As someone said here, IHM, it is heartrending to read about your posts regarding coping with grief. You are very brave. You are coping with the grief in a very dignified and inspiring way. Please send more details about the Trust, once you are ready.

    -Sandhya

  31. Hugs IHM.. What you have written is such good advice to any grieving person. You are doing very well coping up with the grief. Take care, you will be in my prayers.

  32. IHM, just wanted to say that you’re in my thoughts very often. Sending prayers and hugs.

    Yes, there’s no right or wrong way of dealing with grief.. and there’s no deadlines. Take your time, and do what makes you remember Tejaswee fondly.

    Also wanted to let you know that I went through the Friends Remember page on her blog.. and the things her friends remember about her and to see how proud they all are of her made me smile :)

  33. Is there a right or wrong way to grieve? I don’t think so. Grief does not look or wait for such defining factors. Everyone grieves in their own individual way. There is no such thing as the wrong way of handling it.
    A new blog-friend of mine lost her 22-year old daughter in a road accident this July and almost a month later you told us about Tejaswee. Do take a look at her blog : http://antique-art-garden.blogspot.com/
    I have a feeling both of you could help each other on this difficult journey.

  34. Please know that I am not pressing you to contact her or anything. Its just that both of you are very much in the same frame of mind that I thought you coud understand each other best and know exactly what both of you are going through.

  35. Hugs IHM. As you say, there is no one way to grieve. Everybody has to find the path that works for them. The pain that you feel will be one that only you can deal with. Nobody else can possibly tell one the ‘way to grieve’.

    I have to say though, that you are such an inspiration IHM. The links that you have shared will be treasured by most of us.

    The memorial trust is such a wonderful idea, IHM. I am sure Tejaswee will bring happiness to so many, in so many ways, for many, many years to come.

  36. It’s tragic 2 hear abt ur loss. But, never let ur faith wean away. I myself went thru the loss of two brother like figures, aged 22 and 23 at the time of death, both were brothers who died in a road acident on way back after attending a wedding. Imagine the plight of their mom and other family members. I went into mild depression as I was too young to undrestand, only 19. That one year was hell. but after grieving and passing thru that phase, I realised what i learned during that time was much more than wat i have learned all my life till now. Loss will always be there….but with time, it will turn into a positive force to look at life better, with more gratitude. U R TOO BRAVE TO GET BACK TO WRITING AND STARTING TO ACCEPT TEH THINGS. GOD BLESS U AND ALL!

  37. there is no right or wrong way to do it-but the way you are trying to forge a way ahead is true inspiration. working for your daughter’s trust, bringing some light into another life, may be the best way to honor her memory and handle your grief..

  38. I agree with you on all point there is nothing about how to grieve or nornal way of grieving etc etc.. each one is different .. some talk some keep quiet ..
    I guess we all have our own way of grieving what works for one doesnot necesserily work for other..

    but i do beleive talking helps, sharing the moments helps.. One can-not forget one we loved ever I dont beleive in that .. the pain will be there .. I am not sure what i can say that would make the pain go away .. Its you who has to deal with it no matter what others say they will never understand because each one has there own perspective..

    All i would like to say is I pray to god that he gives you strength to bear all this …
    God bless

  39. Dear IHM, this is my first post in your blog. you are always in our thoughts and your daughter will live forever in our hearts.

    I am no way near the pain and loss that you are experiencing. just a little advise. You may want to explore mindfullness meditation to see you can bring more awareness to your thought process or what’s happening in your body just to easy the pain and sometime to cut the vicious cycle of bad thought process. I practice mindfulness meditation (no religious stuff attached here) very regularly. I found it’s very effective in general to face life situations. Some useful resources and places i took formal training. I think you should definitely able to find in india if you want to take formal practice.

    [I am a big fan of Jon Kabat Zinn and his various books. I took an MBSR course at umass medical
    school which was started by him]
    http://www.dharma.org/index.html
    http://www.jackkornfield.org/index/home
    http://www.spiritrock.org/
    http://www.dharmaseed.org/

    I would more than happy if you need any further info.

  40. Dear IHM,
    ‘Give time time’ ~Regina Brett.
    This is a phrase that has helped me get over most of my losses and sorrows in life. I don’t think I can compare yours with mine. What you’re going through is far greater, but just thought I should share this with you. May be it might help you in the most minuscule way, but it may. Stay good IHM. Everyone here loves you. Keep writing.

  41. Pingback: Creating a Support Group « The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  42. IHM, there is no one way to grieve. I think people mean well when they try to give you advice but they probably don’t (completely) know how hard it must be for you (even I don’t). Someone very close to me lost his sister more than three years ago. Ever since she died, every Monday he does a complete fast – doesn’t eat a morsel of food all day – until he goes to the temple (1.5 hours away from where we live) late in the evening after work. Thing is, he was never religious, but this is his way of grieving. People ask me why does he still do that, and I say that is just his way. Does he need to explain? It doesn’t even have to be “rational”. He doesn’t celebrate his birthdays and people say, it’s been 3 years, usually it’s just the first year that one mourns and doesn’t celebrate. How is one supposed to celebrate one’s birthday when all your childhood memories of your birthday invariably involve a smiling, happy sibling who has been taken away before their time? How is one supposed to shrug off that “I lived and she died” feeling? People mean well, but one must find their own way of grieving and it must not be questioned. So find what gives you peace, but know that people are here to help and support you with positive words.

  43. Pingback: “Grieving parents behave in a different manner. ” | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

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