Sharing this post from the child loss support group, In our hearts forever.
How far have I come? Sharing some lessons learnt.
Did I expect this six years ago? 6th July it had rained for the first time. Tejaswee had declared she loved the Delhi monsoons. A month later I was willing the universe to conspire to save her life.
Six years later now, in many ways, I live a ‘normal’ life, at least outwardly. When one has been where I have been, every achievement is a milestone; and things like laughter and joy are achievements beyond all expectations.
Three things that keep me going:
1. In our hearts forever : The Support Group for mothers coping with child loss.
The current mental peace and stability would not have been possible without the support from the moms in this group. We know what we are for each other. Nobody and nothing else can do what this group can, and does – for those who need such support.
2. Brat Three – Brat Three is twelve, and my height now; and regularly raids my wardrobe. Her confidence and happiness are our pride, hope, and delight; and she knows it: This sentence in her school notebook had me tearing up: “I am the apple of my parents’ eyes.”
And I am still marveling at this love, and at the joy and the healing that this love has brought into our lives.
I am grateful. Grateful that all four of us wanted the same thing (this adoption).
Immensely grateful that we listened to the voice inside us.
There is a voice inside of you
That whispers all day long,
“I feel this is right for me,
I know that this is wrong.”
No teacher, preacher, parent, friend
Or wise man can decide
What’s right for you–just listen to
The voice that speaks inside.
3. The Saturday hiking group I joined two years ago:
Every Saturday I wake up at 3 30 am to reach the starting point for the hike on the outskirts of the city; because the hike must end before the day gets too hot, we must start before sunrise.
What drags some of us out of our beds at such hours, while the rest of the world sleeps?
For me, the group was at first just a safe space for getting out of the house and experiencing nature. I would have been content to just walk in the wilderness; that was an achievement in itself; but the walks surprised me with unexpected bonuses: Laughter and Joy. (Also, new friends; and improved health).
This was like rediscovering oneself. It’s a passion I did not even know existed within me. The walks changed almost everything else.
Passions tend to engulf us (along with our pain) and I allowed myself to be totally taken over by the experience: I have run through the wild grass into the sunrise, climbed trees with ants crawling on them, splashed in pools, and felt the rain on my face.
Why have these walks been so life altering, …so healing? I guess what’s healing is the letting go, and the following of one’s spirit.
As we trekked each weekend braving the thorny branches of vilayati keekar, I learnt that there are many kinds of griefs, each very painful to the person experiencing it.
Over a period of time, I met other survivors.
Some of them casually mention the challenges they are coping with and in the beginning, I compared their pain to mine, but now I see that their pain is the worst they have known.
I have found empathy in unexpected places. I have learnt that I connect with, amongst other survivors: single mothers. Divorce is said to be comparable to death and is a traumatic experience, including blatant judgment from random people. The trauma remains unacknowledged: and then there is judgment instead of support. Having experienced it occasionally, and having been outraged by it, I can relate to this.
One walker I met (age, personal life no idea, no need to know) wanted to ‘experience life’ because he has been through hell and survived. And what has he survived? Believe it or not: Alcoholism. His struggle against something he doesn’t have control over, I would probably not have understood in my earlier life.
With this group, I feel I have come a long, long way. Shared passions build strong bonds. And yet. One casual question or remark can still become a trigger for me.
Recently the group celebrated their sixth anniversary. I had attended the celebration last year, so I knew that I would be able to attend this year too. And all was fine and fun until I heard the DJ ask – “Hey people the next one for the person you love the most!” No idea what the context was. Maybe he was just talking too much. Maybe I was overwhelmed anyway, just waiting for a trigger. But suddenly I became an outsider. Wished there was one person I could have looked at and seen them understand.
(This morning I am wondering if I was really the only one. How do I know nobody else struggled in their own way like I did? )
But here’s the thing. I could, with some effort, put the thought away and continue to act like I was not screaming inside; like I was not dying to join the one person who meant everything to me. And after some pretense, it became a fact. I started enjoying again. I could feel Tejaswee with me – with all her protective love, warmth, and positivity. And I was wearing a neckpiece that was hers. (Like some other moms in In Our Hearts Forever, I too always have something of hers with me).
I couldn’t have imagined this six years ago, or even two years ago. This mind-control is what coping with grief is all about, I feel. It’s an unimaginably painful journey, but know that there is hope – it does get better. You emerge so much stronger that you look at your own self in awe. I accept this with gratitude – maybe no power could prevent this pain – but if one is given so much pain then one should also be given the strength to deal with that pain. I am grateful to have reached this point.
Sharing this here to record my journey and to give those newer in this journey an idea of what they might expect in the coming years.
Some more thoughts from someone who has walked through grief and come out stronger –
1. Value your health. Everything else becomes tougher to cope with if health is also an issue.
2. If something gives you a moment of peace – don’t care what anybody says; listen to this guiding voice inside. Moments of joy lead to healing. Grab every bit of healing.
3. Avoid people or situations that trigger pain. Again, listen to this guiding voice inside. You won’t walk into a fire, think before you walk into pain.
4. There is no right or wrong way to grieve, be guided by yourself. I have been advised social work and shopping as alternatives to hiking – both are fine, but are not for me. There is no way I would have benefitted from these, the way I have from hiking, Brat Three, the Support Group, and this blog.
Note: Please email me if you know of someone who might want to join ‘In Our Hearts Forever’.