One of the biggest fears people have is of dying alone. People often enter into relationships with little else as a motivation to be in a relationship other than the idea of not being alone when old, sick and certainly when dying. Of course, there is no guarantee that such company will be there at the time of sickness and death, but the hope of such company is enough for people to take the long leap into relationships even without love and all the other things that one typically looks for, and in any case, as any cynic will tell you, the tragic truth is that in any relationship, chances are that one of the partners will just not get to enjoy that companionship at death, having to outlive the others.
The life of the survivor in any relationship, especially one that had much love in it, is something quite different than one expects. Grief is a painful thing to live with. It makes itself felt in a million ways, many of them totally unexpected, and yet, all of them correct and valid at that time. There is no wrong way to grieve.
Love lost to death hits us in unexpected ways and at unexpected times. You might just be driving a car to work, park just as always in your usual spot, and something might just crush you back into that dark abyss of grief as if it were just yesterday that you lost your love to grief. You might be laughing with someone, even flirting, trying to make something happen and you might find yourself back in grief. There is no telling quite how or when grief finds itself back in the moment, back in your reality.
The idea of "moving on" is not about being done with grief or forgetting about the person lost as much as it is about making space in your life for yourself and maybe some new people in it that can bring you different and wholly new meaning in how you relate and even love. For many, acts of love itself can be a gateway into grief that has been denied, and being in a moment of great tenderness and love can bring forth a geyser of grief where one might find oneself weeping and sobbing for what was lost.
Grief is a theme that many people in relationships visit with their beloved, often as expressed wishes to be the first to go. Sometimes, people even fight over it in that tender way, wanting the right to die before their partner. Yet, in love, one might also find oneself wanting to outlive the beloved, just to spare the pain of the bereavement to their beloved believing oneself to be hardier to that pain.
We may choose to ignore loss and grief, leaving it to the vagaries of fate, or we can choose to engage with it, talking about it with tenderness and affection, even making plans for it. To love fully is to love in death as well.
As written for The New Indian Express
We in India are entering our peak holiday season - Ganesh pooja and Id are over, Dussehra is just about done, and it will be Deepawali in a few weeks and Christmas soon enough. Much of these holidays are based on religious occasions and come with their own rich and particular cultural flavour and heritage.
For many of us, especially those who have moved far from our home towns and original communities, it is a time to reconnect with our families of origin and extended communities, which explains why for almost all major modern cities like Bangalore, Hyderabad and Chennai, the festive season means a mad rush at the bus and train stations as thousands of us rushing to get to our home towns in time for the celebration.
All the loud, colourful and festive celebrations are great for those who feel celebratory, but it is an especially difficult time for those who are going through painful losses, have suffered the passing on of a loved one, or have not had such connections. Festive occasions and holidays are especially stressful for those in such circumstances. It can be depressive and a reminder of what one does not have and a source of pain, loneliness and suffering, as much as it is a source of joy to others.
Which brings us to the conversation: How can one protect oneself in festive times, when the whole world seems to be joyful and we just cannot?
Ajanta, Mahesh and other InnerSight counsellors and guest contributors are happy to share their thoughts here.