Soon after my Dad passed away in February 2020, we found ourselves plummeted into a global pandemic, the likes of which we are still battling with and will continue to for some time. With the two year anniversary of his death upon us, I have been reflecting on my journey with grief and where I find myself now.
My Experience with Loss and Dealing With Grief
I was not new to loss when my Dad passed away, there had been many deaths of close relatives, the first when I was 12. I saw my cousins lose their parents in sudden and expected circumstances. I can now say that I had no clue at all what they were going through in that moment or the time after.
Reflecting on Grief and the Process of Grieving
You might have seen that meme online of grief as a huge ball, and how the jar has to grow around it, but the ball never gets smaller just relatively so. Certainly I think this analogy is true. This growing process will never end, but for me the start was delayed by the pandemic, and the many lockdowns which meant I wasn’t able to return to any semblance of my “old” normal for some time.
Once I did, I realised that often grief hits you in the most random of moments, and most unexpected ways. The birthdays, death anniversaries and holidays surprisingly slip by, whilst I have been floored when I see a pack of biscuits in the supermarket he once brought me home, when I reach the station on the way home where he would have picked me up or when I hear my bhabhi call my nephew “dikhu”.
What Causes This Grief?
For many, grief can also coincide with trauma, particularly when a death was sudden or distressing. I certainly can say this was the case for me. At moments, I still struggle to even believe that I spent 70 plus days basically living in a hospital watching him slip away from us.
Our brains can brush over our most horrendous memories, to a point where they almost feel surreal. I have to remind myself that I lived through it, whilst in other moments, I am stricken by vivid flashbacks and dreams. This is one of the many contradictions about loss, it can feel both surreal and gut-wrenching in parallel.
How we Experience the Pain of Loss
Our experiences of grief are deeply personal in a way that makes relating to even your closest loved ones who may have experienced the same loss harder than you think. I have been struck by how differently each in my family has processed (or not) this loss and how they do. Some feel the need to mention him daily, and if you don’t, think you’ve moved on. Others struggle to fully express how they feel.
The Different Ways We Deal With Loss
Some of us martyr him, others of us focus on the inexplicable injustice any try to find a reason for why he is gone. Supporting another with their loss is hard, and although I have been disappointed by friends in these last two years, I have also realised that when I am on the other end I’ve equally struggled with what to say or do.
What I’ve Learnt From This Experience
Weirdly, I have learnt that many of the troupes about grief are shockingly accurate. It hits you out of nowhere, your relationship with it changes but it is always there and makes you into who you are, and its personal in a way that even your closest cannot truly understand.
In a weird way I’ve come to be grateful for the grief, because I know no matter how much life moves on and I grow around it, it will always keep my grounded and a reminder of how grateful and indebted I am to him.