You never think it will happen to you. You think about what it would be like. You go through it over and over in your mind, changing the scenario slightly each time, but deep down, you don’t really believe it would ever happen, because it’s something that happens to someone else, not to you. – Tonya Hurley
Up until 22 years of age, I hadn’t ever grieved the death of someone I loved. I had friends who had gone through the tragedy or distant family members who I hadn’t quite met who kicked the bucket. However, on a Saturday morning in April 2019, reality came crashing down on my family when my 6-year-old cousin, Aum, passed away all of a sudden. Trying to process the shock, immense pain and overwhelming ache that came with the passing of my brother has been, by far, the hardest thing I’ve ever done. But apart from coping myself, I wanted to be there for my mother, who loved Aum as her own son and my aunt, who, overnight, lost the brightest, most cheerful and happiest child.
That day has been seared into my memory and one that I don’t revisit often. Seeing my entire family in hysterics, praying for his speedy recovery, weeping when we found out the tragic news, and losing faith in a higher power when he was taken away from us. But I will never forget the look in my aunt’s eyes as we video called her (they live abroad); it was as if, along with my brother, a large piece of my aunt was taken forever, stripping her of all signs of happiness.
Dealing with someone’s death is a process, it might take years to feel okay again. There is no ‘formula’ that tells you how long it will take for you to feel better. However, there are several self-care tips that you can incorporate in your life to help you feel better. In two months, it will be a year since my brother passed away, and the past ten months have taught me a lot. So, from one grieving person to another, here are 5 things you can do to feel slightly better every day.
For a long time, I was in disbelief. I refused to believe what had happened. It took me a long time to come to accept that it happened. Once you accept your loss, only then can you begin to move on from this grief. I recall being frustrated a hundred times, begging for answers and searching for meaning. However, with time comes acceptance. And with acceptance, you can follow the next steps.
Just when you feel like you’re doing better, you crumble and go back to square one. Remember that grief is circular, not linear. We will never go back to being the same person we were before the tragedy, but we can try our best to process the grief in a healthy way. While one day might be completely devastating, remember that the next will be better.
One of the biggest things I noticed was feeling guilty for laughing and having a good time. I recall stopping myself each time I became happy—after all, I’m in mourning, right? But then I reminded myself that Aum would want me to be happy. He would want me to live my life, enjoy every aspect of it.
It is very easy to break down in public (and trust me, I’ve had so many instances where the smallest of things have made me cry out loud in a crowded room). Always remember that crying is the most therapeutic thing you can do. I felt lighter after crying each time. Especially, when you cry with someone who is also affected by the tragedy. Not only do they understand your pain, but are able to empathise with you.
Sudden death is a dangerous thing. It can lead you down a dark spiral. Hence, when I didn’t know how to process my feelings, I had to turn to a professional. My therapist was able to put things into perspective for me because of her expertise in grief counselling. She helped me see the brighter side of life, pulling me out of the dark hole I had made home.
I don’t know where Aum is now, but I know he is happy and well. I can feel him looking down over us. I dream about him ever so often, and I can only hope that that is his way of communicating with me. Telling me ‘Dhruvi didi, I’m right here with you’.
If you’re dealing with the loss of someone, I cannot promise that things will ever be alright again. However, I can promise that it will not always feel this devastating. While everyone takes their own time, deal with this loss on your own timeline. All the best.