Dealing with grief

The last time I cried in my mother’s lap was when my father died, three years ago.  It was a warm place where I could put my head down and not care if her saree was drenched with my tears. It was a secure space where I was able to weep, spilling regret and sadness. It helped. Then it was her turn. I was up to a task, I had no idea about. The steep wall of grief rose every morning and moderated a little every evening, when we all sat down on floor to have dinner and cracked a few jokes to remember my father’s humorous side. His picture was in the corner, covered in garland with a half-burnt incense stick in front of it and I got a faint realization about death. How distant and silent it was but only in the corner, watching us – eating, laughing and crying. Moving and getting back to life.

The days to come were worse. I helped with removing things from his closet. I talked to my mom about donating his eight-hundred books. As a kid, I remembered, how he collected money over several months to buy two steel armoires to arrange his brown paper covered books in an alphabetical order. Diminished moth balls rolled on the floor as we opened them and so did my mom’s unstoppable tears. Memories of him wrapped around our heads, hearts and feet. It became impossible to move even as if we stopped breaking down in front of each other but waited for solitary spaces to let our baggage rest.

In all sad and frustrating mayhem, I learnt a lot about human interactions;  I realized what my father meant to the community, his place of work and people in general.  I also realized that he left a part of him in every piece of clothing he had, the pictures he took, the phrases he said and the lives he touched – things that were floating without  him but truly belonged to him and always will. People from all over the city and nearby towns stopped by to pay respect and to share their stories of their wonderful interaction with my father. All my life I’d recognized him as a man who helped others, but the magnitude of souls he reached out, was overwhelming. In some ways, his physical dying and death showed me who he really was. It made me proud but it made me miss him more.

I acknowledge that when a loved one dies, a part of you dies but that person starts living in you – maybe in the structure of your weird nose, the unusual size of your feet, the silly lingo you always end up saying, the pictures you took when no one was ready and the footprint of values with which he/she stamps your soul. The day we lose these simple yet profound connections, especially the last one – we most certainly lose them.

From frantic google searches on afterlife to meditations on impermanence, I have come a long way in accepting his death. Sometimes, tears burst on a birthday or an anniversary but for the most part, I feel fortunate and content that he was a significant part of my life and I was his. If there is something called love – I am beginning to understand what it is.

———————

Above essay in response to Yeah Write#133

 

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38 thoughts on “Dealing with grief

  1. I’m sorry for your loss. This is a lovely tribute to your father.

    I liked the images you wove of the 800 books and how your dad left a part of himself in every piece of clothing.

    1. I agree with Karen about those images. It seems both a blessing and curse to have tangible reminders of someone we have lost. On the one hand, they can bring comfort, on the other hand, they can prompt a swarm of painful memories.

  2. I am so sorry for your loss. You wrote this so beautifully. It brought back memories of cleaning out my grandmother’s house after she died. Every single item told a story & we didn’t want to let go of the memories.

  3. What a touching and beautiful piece of writing. I am sorry for the loss of your father. I, too, lost my father eight years ago. Every morning when I light an incense stick besides his last picture, where he is smiling and looks almost about to say something, I greet him with “Goodmorning dad” or “Goodmorning Behram”! Ah yes, the clothes. He had saved the first shirts I had bought him when he came to stay with us after my mother passed away. Those shirts had become transparent with washing and he was so sentimental about them!
    The other night I was cold and the sheet and quilt were just not doing their job, so I threw on a warm woolen blanket that was his and fell asleep immediately, as though he had comforted me.
    I can never pass through his room without thinking of him and feeling his presence. Yes, his spirit never left and I know he is around. We still call it “Dad’s Room”.

    1. Thank you for stopping by and leaving such a beautiful, heart-warming comment! Parents never leave us 🙂 ; their cozy hands, blessing eyes and guiding feet are always around to take us where we need to go. Sorry for your loss, hugs!

  4. argh. so powerful. you are one of my fav writers on wordpress.. your word cut straight to the heart.
    this reminds me so much of my mother in law, when we had to go through her closet after her passing. those moments of having to remove these memories that had become so embedded in you.. it’s hard to express.

    yet you did it so fluidly. thanks for this piece. and *hugs* in memory of your father. he sounds like a remarkable man.

    1. First of all, I have missed your comments :), so glad to see your comment here. Re: this post, thanks so much for reading my posts – writing is truly rewarded by thinking readership. Grief on losing someone close in unimaginable, and each one of us have different stories to tell through hinging on the same hooks. Hugs to you too!

  5. I lost my father a few years ago, and I find so much of him in myself, surprisingly, sometimes…a phrase I’ll use, a tune I’ll whistle, etc. They never leave us, and for that, I’m thankful. Very touching post.

    1. Oh, I am so sorry for your loss. He lives in you or at least that is what I truly believe. Makes life magical in spite of all its shabbiness. Glad that you connected with this post. Hugs!

  6. This was lovely. It made me think of my own dad, and how, whenever somebody tells me I remind them of him, how I can never understand that. Yet, I suppose the signs are there, even if I’m just trying to be me. 🙂

  7. This is wonderful in every single way. The language is fresh, poignant, and moving. Your use of imagery and figurative language is spot-on. Most of all, however, although your father is described as a unique and important individual, there is such a universal sense of grief and coping in here that almost every reader can connect to. I loved the lines about carrying that person with us in some way. This is absolutely one of my favorites this week. Simple beautiful words; bless you.

    1. Angela, thanks for stopping by and leaving such a wonderful comment. Isn’t it true the best and unique things in our lives are actually common to every one of us. It is how we connect to others and their lives. I wish the best for you.

  8. This was a lovely loving tribute to your Father. Your words were so elegant and each carried the weigh of your emotions which came across earnest, touching my heart. I cried, for you both for your loss.yet I was envious too. I never had that kind of relationship with my father. You were/are truly blessed.

  9. Very touching and so full of emotion. Yes, part of this remember me of the feelings of my own father’s death and the time after. People say that I take after my father, and someone really stated that in the way i sit, walk, speak – he sees my father in me. Thank you for sharing, dear Innerzone!

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