Sunday, October 4, 2015

Everybody says I am fine

Advice is abundant and freely given even when you are not grieving. It is the milk of human kindness. Aside from the platitudes, I have received a lot of advice in the years since Shekhar…some of it immediately useful, some to be taken under consideration, some contextually irrelevant and some just painfully insensitive. All well intentioned, I understand, because it is hard to see someone you care about in pain and not try to alleviate it.  

I have been told I was emotionally unreachable for the first five years. I didn’t think so. I was busy trying to make sense of and bring order to lives disassembled. Then to mark the five year milestone, I made a personal decision to crawl out from under the rock of grief. I thought that if I acted ‘as if’ I was healed, I would be. There was a collective sigh of relief from those close to me. The tenor of conversations changed…I became easier to relate to…and for a while it worked. Even I started to believe I was fine.

The truth, however, is that in all these years I have pushed down active grieving to deal with the aftermath of loss. It was monumental yet somehow mundane because it involved a lot of paperwork. I had to chase paper and finances across three countries and a few cities within one. Then there was the issue of securing the future of our children, their education, their needs…both emotional and resource based. After all, I had suddenly become the sole provider for our family. The practicalities of life left no band width for emotional engagement. At about five and a half years, with the bulk of issues sorted, I felt like I should make the effort to reconnect with the world as a human being and not an emotional desert. The catch was that I wasn’t doing it because I was ready or because I had finished the business of grieving…it was because most people around me expected me to stop, to move on, to see that I had finally come out on the other side…I began to believe I had until a recent visit to my marital home opened the floodgates of grief unobserved and attended to…

I realised that calendar time held no meaning…the anger, the sense of betrayal and abandonment, the silence and absence, the deep and debilitating loneliness all bubbled up to the surface clamouring for the attention they had been denied in these past seven years…I had bypassed not dealt with them and that is the scary part…it is still not over and there are days now when I feel it never will be…if Shekhar had not been the person he was, if our marriage had not been the outlier, if his loss had not been so sudden, I believe it might be easier to bid goodbye once and for all but that isn’t the case. Instead, I find myself caught between a beautiful past filtered through memory and a future that is constructed out of fear of the unknown. In the present, I have to face the truth…I have not truly grieved. That for me is the enigma…what have I been doing for these seven years?


And honestly
I kind of jumped right in
My eyes lay golden
But my feet stay still
There's comedy
Within this tragedy
Laugh with tears and hear
The rain…

Time has stopped and I have spoken
Let him say
As lights go dark
Your thoughts betray…

From ‘The Enigma’ by Dhruv Visvanath