The truth is:
You never get over it,
You learn to deal with it.
You don’t move on one fine day,
You learn to accept it over the years.
There are ‘good days’ and there are those days when you ‘walk through the pain’ once again.
A year after my fathers loss, I had some people ask me, How I dealt with it?
I always had an answer, I repeated few words of consolation, I myself had heard many times over the years. It helped to repeat it to someone, who was in a similar situation. But there was one honest advise my best friend gave me, who herself had lost her mom few years ago :
‘ You are never going to get over it, it is always going to be there somewhere, you can never erase it. It is the truth and there is nothing you can do about it, other than accept it’
But after 5 years I have an answer to – How to deal with it and what my experience has taught me.
Make your grief, your strength:
“It takes strength to make your way through grief, to grab hold of life and let it pull you forward.” – Patti Davis
Yes, I am just telling you to do it the other way round. Instead of it pulling you down, challenge it and fight it out. Look forward and see, what ‘he who left must have wanted to see you become’ this keeps me going all the time, I remember taking the decision to get married – the first thing that came to my mind was, which way would he want me to go, if he was still here.
In my experience grief gives you strength from inside, the pain turns into a powerful force, its upto you, how you want to use it?
I picked my bags 5 days after Dad passed away and flew back to college. I was blank in the flight, I only thought I had to finish what I had started for him. I landed and I don’t remember looking back from there. I did sulk, cry and experience pain. But I never went into a corner from where I couldn’t come out.
It amazed me how fast and busy I made my life in college, I was doing much better than I had ever done in my whole career. Three weeks after my Dad passed away, I had an internship and a pre-placement offer in hand. This was only 3 months into my post graduation. I never knew I had so much strength.
I did have my own time between all this, I started journaling every night to feel more balanced, I wrote letters to my dad explaining my day. I started keeping myself happy and busy, because I always thought that’s what he must have wanted.
Look for changes within yourself – Do new stuff :
First of all it is okay to look for help, to talk to people, to hangout with friends and have long conversations. But they are momentary and they fade out with time, until and unless you learn something from them.
You need to heal yourself, make yourself feel the way you want to, take care of yourself. I wanted to feel more free, confident and independent. I learned to ride a motorcycle, got a tattoo with my dads name, became single after a long time, sometimes stayed awake all night long to see the sunrise, learned to plan surprises and broke beer bottles in the middle of the night 😉
But this was my way to keep the adrenaline flowing, to breathe easy and exhale. I know some people they read books, involve themselves in more group activities. Everyone has their own way, you need to find yours and welcome changes.
Don’t trick yourself into hiding your pain:
My last 3 points are very similar, but each of them are important. It is from here, where I went wrong. It was okay the first 3 months but then, I stopped journaling and sometimes tried shoving away all the thoughts in my head.
I know many of you put up a strong face, hide their pain, don’t cry and keep it all inside. It will kill you slowly, It will slowly start affecting you in your daily life. You will become someone else and it will change the way you look at things.
DO NOT TRICK YOURSELF. I did by making myself so busy that at the end of the day, I was so tired that I would just crash. I would wake up and start working again. I returned to my room only to sleep. It became a problem as I got used to ignoring my own feelings.
Take your time to understand your feelings, calm them down and take small steps. Ignoring them will only lead to a silent storm inside you.
Express yourself more :
Any form of expression helps, show the way you feel, you feel like crying – cry. You feel like jumping on the bed out of happiness- do it. Express yourself, be honest about your feelings.
The entire year in college I became cold din’t want to deal with relationships, I refused to have feelings for anyone rather din’t have feelings, basically because I couldn’t take anymore of setbacks, I was busy dealing with myself.
After an year, I started unwinding myself, I remember sitting one day at home and painting three paintings in a day and then just tearing and throwing them, I closed my room and danced till I got tired, I watched the rain and listened to romantic songs. This was my way to start expressing again, and finally, I decided to fall in love and I did instantly.
Don’t forget to express yourself the way you want. Crying, screaming and sulking is a part of expression (It has been a huge part of my journey), don’t try to push them away, it makes you feel light and, it is not an expression of weakness but the power of being honest to yourself.
Finally slow down, look around and accept:
So after I got married I slowed down, I got time to pick up the broken pieces again and mend it. After 3 years I was learning to accept things, it was not easy, finally I got time to think – My phone screen would never say ‘Papa calling’ or I was not going for a family holiday with him again, or I would never have those Sunday drinks or he would be never be waiting for me at the door, when I return home.
This was the hardest part of my journey, I was newly married dealing with lot of changes in a new country with no job, I woke up at night screaming and sometimes used to be shaken while sleeping, I had dreams where I heard his voice calling my name. It normalised in few months but I had numerous break downs.
Dealing with a loss of a loved one is a process, it is a journey with lot of phases. There is no end to it, you just accept it. Then the loss becomes a memory which you think about, sometimes with a smile and sometimes with a tear.
I took four years to accept it fully, when I finally did, I took out the family video I had gifted him on his birthday and re-watched it with mixed feelings. This time I knew I was looking at ‘good memories’ and he is never coming back.
Today Sept 26th, 2016, It has been 5 years since he left us on the rainy night. I can’t forget that night- the images never goes out of my head. But today, I have the strength to write this article and share it with the world hoping it will help someone, somewhere, sometime.
I have realised over the years, you are going to grow according to the circumstances and learn to look at things differently.
Everyone is going to deal with the loss differently, react differently, there is no one way to look at it.
We are a part of same journey called life, with different stories………
Dedicated to Papa
“Yesterday you were my father, today you have become my god”