There’s a scene from FRIENDS that particularly touches a chord. Phoebe is convinced that a lost cat has taken on the spirit of her deceased mother. As silly as the premise is, Phoebe is undeterred and Ross is hell-bent on convincing her of the contrary. This becomes a clash of the emotional versus the rational. When he is done lecturing her, Phoebe asks him a simple question – “Ross, how many parents have you lost?”
Embarrassedly, he answers – “None.”
“Well then you don’t know what it feels like when one of them comes back, do you?”
This elicits laughter from the audience and I realized in that instance that not everyone will “get” Phoebe. Her quirkiness perhaps, but not the masked grief of her character.
Up until the detection of my father’s illness, I would have stated with confidence that I am living with no regrets; a life of italicized sayings that are oft embedded in travel sites, with picturesque photos.
But that is no longer the case.
I have many regrets, and I shall be buried with them all.
Regret of not researching enough alternative therapies to save my father; regret of him not being able to see me as a bride; regret of not doing enough.
When pilgrims visit a holy site, they wish for varied fulfillments – prosperity, health, everlasting happiness. Statistics and science become secondary in the realm of faith.
Pushing hoards of folks to get a glimpse of a deity’s manifestation/bejeweled idol guarantees nothing; still, faith permeates in the heart and soul of every visitor, who treads for hours and even days to get a glimpse. It’s a stunning motivation, at least, for the heart and mind.
Up until the detection of my father’s illness, I prayed for my family’s well-being.
After the detection, I prayed for his recovery.
After he departed, I stopped wishing altogether.
Brief about Grief
Many of us experience sorrow in the routinely passing of our lives. Then there are some for whom grief becomes embedded in our DNA*. We encounter it, time and time again, in uncanny moments that evoke it, be it a framed family photo, or conversations that seem too dull without the presence of those who departed.
Grief, then, becomes the connector for us select few; continually reminding us that while we appear to be the same on the outside, we have changed, rather, evolved into wholly new individuals.
Admission of our regrets and acceptance of grief is a relieving exercise. More than that, it can propel us to persevere ahead, wherein our grief, serves not as a hindrance, but as a motivation.
Take the case of the admirable Dorris Francis, India’s Traffic Queen. In 2009, Ms Francis and her daughter, Nikki, were travelling in an autorickshaw when a speeding car hit them. Nikki passed away from her injuries.
“She died, I survived. I wish traffic was managed better that day,” she told the BBC. Since then she had been selflessly managing the traffic in the same spot in Ghaziabad day after day. Unfortunately, she has recently been diagnosed with cancer and well-wishers on crowd-funding site, Milaap, are successfully raising funds for her treatment. (I encourage you all to donate!)
My most recent regret was the wastage of food on my wedding day. Especially food that could have been donated. Now, I can recommend start-ups like Feeding India org, whose kind volunteers pick up leftover food after an event and donate it to those in need.
You may select other charities of your choice (check for Charity Navigator ratings) and donate as you deem fit.
My personal favorite is Sunitha Krishnan’s anti-trafficking unit Prajwala (safely donate via their Global Giving page). The braveheart Sunita was a victim of gangrape in her teens, which served as the impetus for her notable mission to rescue, protect, and rehabilitate girls and women from the horrors of sex trafficking. Out of Prajwala’s 200 employees, 70% are survivors themselves.
Gratitude in Grief
Grief is valid for all those who experience it and processing it is personal to every individual. The more you compare one another’s grief, the less you understand.
Pitying of strangers does no more good than applying band-aid over band-aid.
But this does not imply that we become stagnant in our grief. In fact, I’m more grateful for things today, that I could hitherto imagine before.
Gratitude for my mother’s practice and setting up own her Homeopathy clinic.
Gratitude for the man who may not always “get” my grief, yet his love heals in more ways than he can imagine.
So all you grieving souls – welcome to our group.
May this journey of everlasting evolvement continue…till my next blog 🙂
A short poem to end this note-
Grieving is akin to wearing an Invisibility Cloak.
A mind dancing to other’s tunes in the midst of merry folk.
In a world that is routinely bitten by news of delight and doom,
Free yourself of buried sorrows and the regrets that can’t be exhumed.