Six years. 

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. ūüôā Her confidence and happiness are our pride, hope, and delight; and she knows it: This sentence in her school notebook had me tearing up: ‚ÄúI am the apple of my parents‚Äô eyes.‚ÄĚ

Introducing a new family member.

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.

The Voice

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’.

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On 19th Jan 2014.

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Do you believe that each day promises a fresh beginning?

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‚ÄúThe pain will never go, but you will smile¬†again.‚ÄĚ

‚ÄúThe pain will never go, but you will smile¬†again.‚ÄĚ

In our hearts forever.

Finally, after four years of realising that such a group would be most helpful, I created a grief support group for mothers coping with child loss on Facebook in August 2014.

At first we interacted only on Facebook.

The first day, within hours of the group being formed, two of the mothers called to say they found the interactions overwhelming. I thought they weren’t sure they wanted to be a part of the group, and I did understand that each one of us may not find the same things helpful. But they said the sharing of experiences was cathartic for them.

One of the members’ family feared she might find the meetings depressing, another member was pressurised to go for a meeting.¬†I believe there is only one way to truly know what would work for us.

This:

The Voice.
There is a voice inside of you
That whispers all day long,
“I feel that 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.

[Shared by Women’s Web on facebook,¬†link]

Five of us who were in Delhi-NCR, met for the first time on the 30th of October. There was no plan, whoever was free managed to come.

We talked about what hurt and what helped. What we couldn’t understand and the questions that would never be answered. Those of us who had travelled longer on this journey talked about how we were now able to do things we never thought possible.

We also realised our journeys were a lot alike, (which was why knowing what to expect helped), and yet they were different. Which was why it was important that we choose our own paths.

This was around Diwali.¬†As we were leaving, we were in the lift and one of the mothers said, “They are able to put up lights…! I too will be able to do that in five years.”¬†

One mother, let me call her SP, didn’t come. She said she got ready and got down the lift, reached the car and then sat there wondering what she was doing. She was sure it would be a mistake. She locked the car and went back home and sent a message that she would not be able to come.

We told her we would love it if she came for the next meeting, or the next. Whenever she was ready.

And she did come for the second meeting on 12th December. This meeting went on for over five hours, very positive, very warm and we parted on an unbelievably cheerful note Рwith many ideas and plans for future.

What made it even more special for me was that the next day was Saturday and two of the mothers, SP and AV agreed to come for the Saturday walk (more Hikes than walks) that I have been going for (with Let’s Walk Gurgaon – but more about these life altering walks in another post).

That warm Saturday morning I will always remember, and it turned out to be a beautiful trail.

The trail

I had never seen so many Pied Kingfishers at one place… Then, as we walked along the 9 km trail, AV said, “I see this as a new beginning for me, IHM.”

I knew what she meant, this was how I had felt when I went for the first walk in March 2014. What was so healing about these walks? That it was possible to be alone or to interact only as much as one wished to? The group’s willingness to walk as slow as their slowest walkers? The always knowing that there was support, in case one needed it? The beauty of the trails? Being with nature? Having to totally focus on the walk (from time to time)?

SP was the other mom who had agreed to come along. She said she had ankle and knee problems in both legs, and she wasn’t sure if she could even complete the walk. But she wanted to try and she did. Her legs hurt, but there were helping hands all along. She finished the trail, but would she ever come for these walks again? Only if she received the same kind of warmth and support she said ūüėÄ

Then some days later she called to ask how to save her pictures from the walk from facebook. “I am smiling so sweetly! I can’t believe I am smiling so sweetly! IHM you guys have¬†changed my life in two days!”

She said her legs did hurt but not enough to prevent her from coming for future walks ūüôā Reminded me of how I had felt the first time. I had to take a paracetamol because of the muscle ache and slight fever from the unused to exercise. And I remember how the biggest concern was getting well enough for the next walk.

And that is how 2014 has been for me. Full of hope and healing.

This group is a closed group and only for mothers who have known child loss.

If you know of someone who has lost a child, please let them know about this safe and supportive space Р and let them decide if this is for them. One way would be to write this email [indianhomemaker@gmail.com] on a piece of paper but it would be  better to  message it to them (on their phone) so that it is not misplaced and whenever they are ready, they would have the option of joining.

Another way would to be to send a message on this page, https://www.facebook.com/IHM.Indianhomemaker

UPDATED: The group cannot be found by non members.

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‚ÄúGrieving parents behave in a different manner.¬†‚ÄĚ

When they cry.

The right way to grieve.

When it is okay to count your blessings.

When we surprise ourselves.

Earlier this year I volunteered to be there for a mother who¬†had lost her adult child, in case she needed someone to talk to. The intention was only to reach out to someone I was almost sure I could help. It turned out that her need for positivity in hopelessness (and I have known that need) required a constant repeating of healing, hopeful and helpful ideas. And positive thoughts help everybody, even those like us who sometimes use them as crutches and painkillers, even when some of these thoughts would not be seen as positive by some others. For me, here was someone who felt the same way about life, death, pain, hope and helplessness and someone who understood what we were living with. So ‘helping’ here was an excuse, I was actually helping myself.

I have, in the past, said to others and to myself, that it would take a lot to make someone like me really unhappy – that I could take a lot in my stride. Later, for a while I blamed these thoughts (along with a million other things) and wondered if such thoughts provoked bad luck.

But this weekend the kids and I went to a neighbourhood mall, finished some much required but mundane shopping, I managed to get a slight headache and then sat down for a late lunch, tired and relieved it was done, while the kids ordered. And then as I was irritated with myself for not ordering something else and as I still continued to eat something I wasn’t enjoying, I happened to look up at the two young people at the table, equally tired but happy. And an unexpected thought crept into my mind – didn’t even realise I actually thought that thought. How could I? The thought was – “This is contentment.” ¬†But I did feel at peace at that moment and this is how I feel most of the time these days. How would Tejaswee feel if she could see us sitting there and if she could hear my thoughts? She would have been proud. We had achieved the unachievable … the inconceivable (to us).

So I have made peace… sort of. It’s difficult not to resent and feel angry with whatever/whoever had the power to have an almost 23 year old sitting with us in that crowded, stuffy mall on this weekend afternoon, but I am trying to learn to think that she is not really not-there ever, and that she was watching and feeling the same peace I felt. Maybe I felt the same peace she was feeling …because she was feeling it. Maybe I was at peace because she was at peace.

And I am continuing to understand that this peace (still won’t use ‘happy’ to describe how I feel) has been achieved by training the mind to keep twenty years of memories (capable of inflicting terrible pain) locked in a precious, partly cherished, partly dreaded corner.

Maybe this is what coping with grief or any trauma is all about (for some people atleast) –¬†being able to control what we remember and what we choose not to think of. And it‚Äôs an ongoing, endless process, but not really a conscious effort. Also, it was not really in my control to do this ‚Äď it just happened over a period of time.

I also noticed that without really thinking about it, I resisted situations that might bring forth painful memories. I did not attend any weddings or celebrations until early this month. And I wasn’t sure if it would be painful – and this is what I find strange. How can we not know how we would feel? Turned out we didn’t just attend this wedding, we actually enjoyed ourselves.

I had not been able to listen to happy, lively music for three years (without breaking down that is) and had been fine with never again dancing or listening to certain (or any) kind of music.¬†I remember saying there were many who had not been through what we had, but who didn’t care for dancing or music anyway, and they lived fine, so my not being able to bear music wasn’t so bad. But then Brat Three joined us. I remember the first time I sang and generally clowned around with her on ‘Lakdi ki kaathi’ and realised only afterwards, with shock, that I was perfectly fine doing that – no tears, no break down. How did that happen?

Then there was a Diwali Mela in our complex and we took Brat Three there, and she heard music and saw people dancing and with just a little encouragement she had joined them and started dancing with them. Soon some teenagers pulled her to join their group, I was amazed at how much she was enjoying, and although I was crying, it wasn’t too brightly lit and even if somebody noticed, I didn’t care. I was happy but I was also in pain, I wanted to scream. And yet, I was actually overjoyed. I am not able to understand why drum beats and music did this to me… Maybe because we were dancing even 19 days before Tejaswee was born, and we still have photographs with the hamper we won. We were dancing again when she was a baby, then a toddler and then we were on the floor with two toddlers, then two kids and then two teenagers…

Early this month I felt I could attend a wedding in the family, maybe borrow an odd sari from my mom because Brat Three would definitely enjoy everything an Indian wedding entails. That’s how little we know our own minds sometimes (though we know it better than anybody else does). I knew I could attend, I never dreamt I would be able to dance – which is what actually happened. And no tears, no break downs. It’s a mile stone in our grief journey. Did it help that it was a cousin, very dear to Tejaswee who was getting married and that there was Brat Three in a white lehenga hopping away to glory and that the husband was looking overjoyed – disbelieving almost. I think, I could see a reflection of what I was feeling on his face.

I shared all of this with the dear friend who needs to hear positive thoughts and who asks the same question every day, often more than once a day, in many different words, each time like she has never thought of asking it before.

Here’s what she asks:

“I have been meaning to ask you something… ¬†I didn’t even want to get up this morning… do you really feel better now after three years…?”

“I was thinking I must ask you something today, … I was wondering… does this pain become bearable after a while… you will know so I thought I must ask you.”

“You have dealt with it, so you will be able to tell me, does it hurt like this all your life? What’s the point of living if it is so painful to live every moment?”

“This is very wrong you know, what kind of creator created such a world where there is so much pain? We would not have had any children if we knew it was so painful to lose them… Do you really think… does it really become bearable with time?”

I can relate to each thought – have asked the same questions with the same disbelief, and almost always, each time I laugh, there is astonishment, and a quickly suppressed question, “How can I laugh? Tejaswee has died and I can laugh?” There is almost a rebellious desire to never laugh, to show the creator there is no forgiveness from this mother for creating so much pain. Denying these thoughts would be dishonest and does not help validate similar thoughts felt by other parents. But when I talk to this dear friend I make an effort to end these rants with a positive thought, “Maybe I can forgive fate/Creator/whatever, maybe it was predestined, maybe there was no way it could not have happened, maybe there is forgiveness being sought because there is so much hope in the love and the joy that we feel for Brat Three… ¬†and I am sure if we are determined to fight pain and find joy again, we can try to seek happiness and support in whichever ways we are comforted…”¬†

This post is a thank you note to this mother for all the positivity she brings into my thoughts.

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Last year, these days. 

What makes Brat Three happy – II

This October we initiated a much planned and discussed remodelling of our kitchen. Plumbing, woodwork, tiling – the works.

On one of the days, there was rubble on the living room floor and the gas stove and the microwave had been placed on the dining table, but the awesome Delhi winters had just begun and we decided to make pao bhaaji together, in the little free space available on the dining table. Brat Three eagerly peeled three garlic cloves and washed six tomatoes, and offered endless suggestions.

As we finally sat down to demolish hot, butter soaked paos¬†Brat Three declared she was very happy and this was the kind of meals she loved ūüėĬ†

“You like meals with all this mess around?”¬†Did it take a sackful of broken tiles to make Brat Three happy?

Ofcourse, what she was loving was more than just the cooking together and the eating together.

What does make Brat Three happy?

She had been practising for a dance for the Annual Function in her school. The daily rehearsals at home, typically included what everybody else was doing, what they were saying and forgetting to say. One such time I started recording, she noticed the mobile and started acting silly. I warned her I was going to continue recording. Making faces at the camera, she danced on one foot, danced on the sofa, danced with her back to the camera (on one foot), and then sang and danced to Bum Bum Bole from ‘Tare zameen par’ – with her back to the camera. ūüôĄ Then finally she turned to face the camera, coming closer, crossing her eyes, blinking and winking (etc etc). All recorded.

Brat Three: “You recorded all of it?”

IHM: “Come and watch.”

And it was funny. Maybe not as funny to everybody else, but it had me in splits. We watched and laughed a lot and then she wanted to watch it again. Brat Three seemed to be looking at my face all the time she was laughing.

Brat Three: “Play it again!”

IHM: “Again?? Okay.”

Some more laughter.

Brat Three: “One more time.” So I patiently played it again, but Brat Three was watching my face instead of the video.

IHM: “What happened?”

Brat Three:”Laugh. Laugh again!”

IHM:¬†“I have already seen it, so it is not as funny as the first time… you want to watch it again? We should watch it sometime later, then it will be more fun.”

Brat Three:”No. Play it again and laugh. Let’s watch it again and then you laugh again.”

IHM:”I am not laughing aloud, but I am still enjoying it. You want to watch it…?”

But she didn’t want to just watch the video again, she wanted the laughter. Just the laughter. And she sensed that she was the reason for that laughter.¬†

I told her I was very happy we were a family. And immediately she wanted to hear, once again, the story of how she brought back music and laughter in our lives, with her spirited, determined, vivacious presence.  And what makes Brat Three happy is, I think, (amongst a million other things) happy faces around her Рspecially when she is at the source of all that joy. Maybe that is what acceptance is all about?

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Learning with Brat Three.

“Grieving parents behave in a different manner. ”

A dear friend who has known child loss asked what I thought of Shobha De saying – repeating what she had said earlier, that she believes the Talwars could have killed their only daughter because,¬†‘Grieving parents behave in a different manner.¬†They are broken in spirit and rendered almost incoherent with grief at the loss of a loved one.’

I have heard opinions less accusing or judgmental, but equally convinced about how parents whose children have died must, should or do behave. I too had always thought that manifestations of grief and trauma were obvious and easy to understand. But sometime on 11th Aug 2010, I remember someone saying, “She is handling it very well…” when they saw me arranging the cushions in the living room and generally putting the place in order, hours (?) after Tejaswee had died. What was I thinking? I remember one thought – that I had not been home for many days and there were going to be visitors. Does it make sense that a mother feeling that she was watching herself in her worst nightmare, and who had just started sensing that there was no hope of ever waking up from this endlessly painful nightmare, would be capable of putting clothes for wash, or tea cups in the kitchen sink? What was happening? I have no idea what made me do that. Was I being ‘cold blooded’? No, because I was in unimaginable pain.

Later I had asked not to meet anybody and didn’t. We had also made it clear that we would not be talking about Tejaswee’s death or her time in the ICU. I know of other parents who – each of them, did not want to talk or think about their children’s death. We didn’t want to forget (that felt like betrayal, because ¬†our children suffered the pain and we didn’t even want to remember it?), but we did want to be able to lock away painful memories and never think of them again. I still sometimes talk about her death but it happens when it happens, there is no one judging or questioning and dissecting every word, tear or smile.

And I can say without fearing judgment that I have no idea why I reacted in certain ways. How would I have reacted if there was constant judgement and accusations? Would I be defensive?

Did it mean I was unaffected? No. All the time I was in intense pain, always wishing it was possible to just close my eyes and never open them again – so much that when I look back, my heart goes out to the person I was in the early days and the early months (or anybody else going through the same pain). The hopelessness was impossible to argue out of – it did seem like an end of everything good ever possible. And all the time there was also a sort of a denial and difficulty in understanding – ¬†an impossible thought, a hope maybe that “Tejaswee couldn’t possibly have really died”. A desperate wish to wake up from this nightmare. It was all extremely unreal – like watching it happening to someone else. Like not really being there and yet feeling so much pain that the idea of death brought comfort.

I can’t imagine this today – but I was startled that the sun rose the next morning. For many months afterwards, it did seem impossible that the nature and the world was going about their lives as usual. It had shocked and angered me. There was a feeling of having been betrayed, by the Creator or Fate or God or all the positivity in the world. Did I actually expect the world to stop? And this is again something many of the other parents have felt too.

Along with all this, there was a horrible feeling of having failed, as a parent. And every parent I have met has felt this way – a strong sense of having let down the child you were supposed to keep safe from harm. Months afterwards when I found these lines, I read them every day to remind myself that maybe parents were programmed to feel this way and it helped that we weren’t the only ones – that even the grief was just a programming – it helped to see it as something beyond our control (so it was okay to let go), as something that had a pattern and that could be predicted (to a degree).

Here are the lines I say to every grieving parent I meet/interact with,

‚ÄúSELF-INFLICTED GUILT‚ÄĚ ‚Äď JUST FOR TODAY

Sunday, August 29, 2010 @ 09:08 PM Author: Grieving Dads

… The poem was written for bereaved parents by Vicki Tushingham.¬† Feel free to share with others.

Just For Today For Bereaved Parents 

Just for today I will free myself from my self-inflicted burden of guilt, for deep in my heart I know if there was anything in this world I could have done to save my child from death, I would have done it.

I have spoken to 100‚Ä≤s of grieving dads and the one thing we all have in common is guilt.¬† We find so many ways to blame ourselves for what happened to our children.¬† We go back and rethink things over and over.¬†¬†‚ÄĚIf I would have done this different‚ÄĚ or ‚ÄúI should have been there for them‚ÄĚ.¬† There are so many ways we find to blame ourselves.¬† However, like this section of poem says,¬†‚Äúdeep in my heart I know if there was anything in this world I could have done¬†to save my child from death, I would have done it.‚Ä̬†¬†¬†If only for today you can find away to forgive whatever it is your thinking about, please try to do it.¬† I believe guilt is a great destroyer.

* * *

I have no memory of learning (and I never want that memory) that Tejaswee had died, but I do remember saying “It’s okay” to the doctor who walked out of the ICU and lifted his hands up when he saw me – indicating that it was not possible to attempt a dialysis because she had a cardiac arrest and they were trying to revive her. I remember they had succeeded in doing that but everything after that is a blank. I didn’t know it then, but (learnt later via GGTS) this kind of blocking of traumatic memories is not uncommon. I also don’t remember many phone calls from the early days, or the emails (some of which I have responded to).

We had decided very early not to talk about her suffering to each other, though I did talk endlessly with those who seemed to understand – and these were almost always other parents who had experienced child loss. But on Aug 11th 2010, I didn’t want to go inside the ICU and see her – or attend the funeral (but did both). Because I was terrified (and I had never imagined having such fears, we don’t know how we would react when facing the unimaginable). ¬†– it seemed obvious that a mother would want to see her child who has just died. But I was terrified of seeing any signs of suffering on her face. Or of sadness on her face because she was left alone in the ICU and there was ¬†no one to hold her hand as she felt herself dying… ¬†or worse, ¬†disappointment, horrible disappointment because I couldn’t keep my promise to her, of walking out of the hospital with her. And along with all this was the feeling that nothing else mattered anymore. The funeral was organised on the same day and I didn’t want to be there – once she was not there, nothing else mattered. Why am I blogging about this? To share how it felt and how it feels for many parents. It’s painful to write more about this, but no matter what happened on the night Aarushi Talwar died, reading about the Talwars’ grief – I didn’t find anything odd in the way they are grieving.

My husband’s first words were to donate her eyes and I was shocked, because he said this when the doctor said, “Now only a miracle can save her.”¬†I had no doubt that she would have wanted her eyes to be donated, but I didn’t want the doctors to think we were prepared to let her die – to me it felt that if we were ready to give up hope, so would she and so would the Universe. Even the two parents didn’t react the same way to the pain there are no words to describe, and we both loved her more than our lives.

One thing I clearly remember was a strong, difficult to understand even now, but very clear instinct to somehow not break down and cry. It felt like being on the brink of something indescribable.¬†I also surfed the net and read about grief – and it helped somehow. Why did it help? (Looking back, I think it helped to see the terrifyingly overwhelming and all-powerful pain dissected and discussed in points – it made it seem less daunting) Maybe it distracted from the cause of the pain? Maybe it helped because it gave hope that the pain would become bearable with time? ¬†(And yes it has diminished and I have almost made peace with whatever life has dealt us, though it seemed unbelievable then. It is now possible to control one’s thoughts and lock those that hurt firmly in one special corner that stores both pain and memories that bring pain).

Today I see that lack of display of obvIous grief as an indication of being in shock… something much worse than just shock. And by this logic, I think, it indicates that whatever happened, Aarushi’s parents did not plan it in cold blood. If the crime was planned by them, and if they had given it the thought that they have been accused of having given, they would have included tears (and more) in their ‘cold blooded’ plans to satisfy those who were judging them.

I did not see the TV show the friend mentioned, so let me attempt to respond to the similar thoughts Shobha De shared on her blog –¬†‘Believe it or not!!! Aarushi ki sad kahani

Shobha De: “… the response of Aarushi‚Äôs parents has beenpuzzling and bizarre , to say the least. Grieving parents behave in a different manner.”

IHM: There is no one way in which all grieving parents behave or should behave. Shock and unimaginable trauma can influence how people react. It is generally difficult for someone who has not dealt with it to even imagine what it is like. Judgment is an indication of lack of understanding.

Shobha De: They are broken in spirit and rendered almost incoherent with grief at the loss of a loved one.

IHM: Not true for all parents. Many parents fight for justice (it becomes a reason to live); some go online, desperately trying to understand how they are feeling; many join support groups that they did not know even existed until they needed them; and many refuse to talk or cry. Many are clear that they must not break down. Many are unable to understand their own reactions, their own strengths and weaknesses. For most it feels like the unbearable pain would never go, infact this is one of the reasons most grieving parents interact for – ¬†to keep asking each other, “When does it start getting better?” ¬†

Shobha De: An only child at that. Not these two, though. Sorry if this sounds like pop psychology gone wrong… but the conduct displayed by Mr. and Mrs. Talwar appears a bit too calculated, even cold blooded to viewers.

IHM: They calculated to appear indifferent and cold? If they had calculated, would they not calculate to appear appropriately ‘broken in spirit’?

Shobha De: For a mother of a dead girl to project such steely determination during what must have been the most harrowing time of her life, seems a bit unnatural.

IHM: Ms Neelam Katara appeared on the TV with the same steely determination, she fought, successfully, to get justice for her son Nitish Katara who was murdered brutally. I remember because when I saw her, I was sure if my child had died I would have died or gone mad. But I didn’t.

Shobha De: I have spent enough time consoling mothers who have lost their kids to say this is perhaps the first time I have observed a mom whose sole objective seems to be to put up a feisty defence for herself and her husband.

IHM: Were the other mothers accused of killing their children? Would it have helped their case if the Talwars were hysterical?

Shobha De: Both the Talwars have a script that reads like a law manual.

Their faces are stony, their eyes, strangely devoid of any emotion. When they mention Aarushi, they could as well be discussing their neighbour’s kid.

IHM: ‘Their faces are stony, their eyes, strangely devoid of any emotion.’ Could well be indications of shock, trauma or¬†‘broken in spirit’.

And why would cold blooded murderers plan to display their lack of emotions? So that random people can point fingers and declare them murderers? I think the very fact that they are not taking special care to behave in ways that protects them from judgment by those who have no clue about grief is an indication that they are in shock.

Related Posts:

She will live forever in our hearts.

We can’t change what we would give anything to change, but we can control how we deal with it.

‚ÄúThe pain will never go, but you will smile¬†again.‚ÄĚ

Words do heal.

On 19th Jan 2013.

On 19th Jan 2011.

When it is okay to count your blessings.

Please pray for my daughter’s life.

Last year, these days.

When they cry.

The right way to grieve.

I will see you again.

Media is getting irresponsible РGarima

She would have been 21 today and I miss her.

I have no words, just thanks to all who remembered Tejaswee today. This year is easier than the last one, so I am sure it does get better. My mother is with me and her constant attempts to cheer me (joking, talking about everything but what’s in her mind and mine) upset me and then I sat her down and read out from some of my earlier posts about there being no right or wrong way to grieve. I told her it was okay for me to not laugh or be able to focus on anything sometimes. I also assured her that I was much better but she really needed to accept that I was not and could not be the same daughter she had before her grand daughter died, but that did not mean I was always crying. I told her I actually laughed aloud when I read Tejaswee’s letter to J K Rowling, and how I will never forget the wonderful life we had, and the amazing memories we have now. I told her I didn’t need to forget Tejaswee.
She says she understands but everything she does conveys she wants everything to be ‘normal’. I tried to make her see that it didn’t harm me to acknowledge that I was thinking of¬† my daughter on the most special day of my life and hers (and every single other day).

My deepest gratitude to the blogosphere and the internet for keeping me sane during the toughest time in my life.

This portrait by Midhun Kumar made me feel I was not the only one remembering her today.

From this photograph by Divesh,

Thank You.

When it is okay to count your blessings.

Last April I got an email from a mother who had lost her daughter on Feb 6th 2011. She would have been 25 today. J, the mother called today and said she realised the day was not as difficult as she had feared. I had told her that was what happened to me and was relieved to hear her sound so positive.

The anticipation is always tougher, I have learnt now, than the actual day. What hurt was not just the day, but the disbelief that the day still comes, and the sun still rises and world still goes on…¬† For me Tejaswee’s absence on Aug 11th 2011 seemed to affirm and seal and stamp the fact that she was never going to be there. It’s difficult to understand why that should hurt when one knew and lived that fact every moment of one’s life. Death is difficult to understand, I don’t think the human mind ever accepts (or comprehends) a child’s death completely…

J. sounded amazed that she had not been crying all day and said she had resolved to sign out of some grief sites she had joined earlier. I didn’t sign out of the grief sites I had joined, I like to know I can always go back there to give or get support. In some other ways too we reacted differently to having to live our worst nightmares. For months she sounded like a lost child, repeatedly voicing the thoughts that echoed mine but which I wanted locked away (and there is nothing wrong or right with either, just ways one copes with what is impossible to cope). Many times it was difficult listening to her, but today for the first time, after eleven months, she was counting her blessings. She spoke of how touched she was that her neighbors welcomed Ganapati this year, without any drum beats and music; of how she was able to assure her younger daughter she would not join any ashram and remain a normal mother to her (as much as possible); and how glad she was that one of S’s friends was coming to meet them. She did fear the meeting might trigger more pain, but she said, “They are S’s friends, and this is her house, this house is always open to them.” For the first time I found comfort, and unbelievably, joy, from listening to her.

I also got a call from a magazine about writing about my daughter and how I dealt with my loss, and I am going to try to do that though it isn’t going to be easy. And then on the same day I got a call from another mother who has lost a child, and wants to write about dealing with grief. Talking to someone who listens without judging, and connecting with someone who is going through the same struggles worked like a pain killer today. Thank you if you are reading this. And thanks to another friend who finds talking about her grief painful, but who has listened to me for hours sometimes. Hugs.

I can’t help noticing the timing of all this. I am sure this is going to make it easier for me to smile and be grateful on the 19th, for the nineteen and a half years that we had.

If we could see the future…

My daughter, when she was ten, once got me this doll as a gift. When I teased her and told her I was going to gift her sarees and perfumes, she had looked taken aback. She hadn’t liked the joke.

She really did think I would love the doll (and I did of course!), “It has chubby cheeks like me, I thought you could hug it when you missed me.

And I had hugged her and teased her further asking why won’t I just hug her instead…

Why I liked ‘Rabbit Hole’.

I don’t know how I would have found this movie if I had seen it before August 2010.¬† A scene I found heart rending was described by a reviewer as so hilarious that it ‘left the audience snickering’. In the scene, Becca (Nicole Kidman) and Howie (Aaron Ekhart) who have lost their four year old son in a car accident eight months ago, are meeting other grieving parents at a ‘Bereavement Support Group’. A couple talks about how they were fine with their child being with god. I have tried to believe this too. I felt the parents were struggling to find solace in an impossible, senseless¬† painful situation . Nicole Kidman couldn’t bear to hear it – she felt god was all powerful, and could have created as many angels as he needed.

Her anger wasn’t funny, it was sad. It really is difficult to understand why the entire universe did not conspire to help you the one time you really wanted something.

And then there’s her relationship with her mother,¬† the one person who hopes to, and is expected to, magically comfort you, and to always know exactly what the child needs.

During one of the worst and the most painful moments two months after my daughter died, I told my mother I just couldn’t bear the pain. She stood up, looking lost and¬† uncomfortable and said, slowly, “This is something you have to learn to accept.” I tried to explain what I was feeling, but she looked still more uncomfortable. She stood staring for a while and then went out of the room, and returned with a glass of water. She had the same look on her face that I saw on Becca’s mother’s face (Dianne Wiest). My mother, like Nat, had looked frightened, even guilty, just how could she as a mother, not know how to make it better? It took me sometime to understand. Maybe I too had stood and stared at my daughter in the ICU with the same expression on my face.

Another scene that struck a strong cord was at the store, when Becca sees this child asking for something and the mother refusing it.

We were at Om Book Stores and I saw this little boy asking his father for some books which his father refused. The child continued to ask and it really troubled me. Tejaswee did the same in book shops and I didn’t always buy everything she asked for. But watching this child, I wanted to tell the father to buy him whatever books he wanted. It was difficult to see the child’s disappointment. I couldn’t understand Becca’s violent reaction though, either it is a flaw in an otherwise brilliant movie, or I have just not met enough grieving parents to know if such violent reactions do happen.

The movie began with Becca refusing an invitation by her neighbours. I could relate to that too. I feel it would be sometime before any real celebrations would be possible, and it’s fine to take one’s own time.

Also since all acquaintances can’t be expected to understand how one feels, it’s fine¬† (if one can) to interact with those who do understand. For as long as needed.

I watched the movie with Sangeeta, and walked out of the hall feeling positive and somehow, comforted. Read how she felt  here.

Do you believe that each day promises a fresh beginning?

This morning I woke up with a horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach. Still not fully awake, I lay wondering what caused it. My mind, unbelievably, still in our life before Aug 2010. And then I realized (or woke up fully). Tejaswee. I tried to think what made this morning more difficult than other mornings, and then I knew.

I had opened Tejaswee’s laptop for the first time yesterday. It look a long time and many tries before I could remember the password. There was nothing new on her laptop actually, except that it was hers. Most of yesterday was spent going through photographs and videos not seen for a long time.

And hearing her voice after months.

Here she is with her favorite turquoise bracelet, also seen in the header and on the sidebar.

How easy it was to take for granted on 12th October 2009 that the child who sat on the kitchen counter, modeling her newest shopping, chattering endlessly, while I added tarka to her favorite dal, was going to be with us all our lives.

I am reading ‘When life changed forever‘ the author says, life was not meant to be predictable or planned, anything might change at any moment. And that the death of a child changes the parents forever. Accepting that we will never be what we were, might make it easier to live with our changed selves. I am realizing that some of the changes are subtle. Some changes come slowly as the realization sinks in. Maybe some of the changes are reversible. But this much is true, now we have two lives, our life before Aug 11, 2010 and this life after Aug 11, 2010.

Ricky Taylor says,

“Our friends and family, and we ourselves, wanted us to get back to ‘normal’. But ‘normal’ had been fiendishly changed….

But it also became very obvious to us that what he had thought of as ‘normal’ was phantom. It existed only in our minds. The reality was that each day promises a fresh beginning…”

The reality was that each day promises a fresh beginning...’
I don’t know how to see that. Sounds positive if one didn’t consider what one has lost.

Do you believe that each day promises a fresh beginning?