TELL TODAY THAT YOU LOVE THEM, BEFORE THEY ARE GONE

We were all set to celebrate the 50th marriage anniversary of my Buaji and Fufaji (paternal aunt and uncle). It was going to be a great event with most of the family members getting together for the big celebration. Dresses and gifts were decided and I was making a photo album for the “Golden Couple”. Creating a customised gift takes time and when the network or website issues come, then the effort grows manifold. It was late night when I was having trouble in putting up a picture on a page. I gave up finally and went to bed, thinking to start afresh the next day.

It was in the morning when my mom called me up. I thought the call must be regarding the golden celebrations only, because that’s what we have been doing lately, planning what to wear and what to gift. When I answered the call, my mom was freakishly crying and told me Fufaji is no more.  I couldn’t believe my ears and asked her twice. My Fufaji, who was a retired Major General passed away the night before, just around the time I was preparing the​ photo album. As everyone else, I was shocked. I just couldn’t believe that it was possible. I thought instead of making the photo album, I could have called him up a day before to tell that  he was special and I loved him. But, it was too late.

Death is the bitter truth of life. I wanted to talk to Buaji. I usually feel shy in calling up the relatives of the deceased, don’t know how to console. But I don’t know where the courage came and I called up my Buaji instantly, as I wanted to tell her that we all love her and are there with her.

We didn’t want to leave Buaji alone on the day of her 50th marriage anniversary, so it was decided that we all will get together on that day and have an evening of singing prayers, remembering the departed soul.

It was a gloomy day. We all shared our feelings and recalled our memories with Fufaji. The lady who was called for the bhajans asked us to feel the changes that are there in the house and in our lives within him. Almost everyone was shedding tears on remembering this. And we all stopped crying the moment she said this- “How will the departed soul feel if you cry for him? He is not here with us physically, but feel his presence. He wants you to stay happy.”

My grandparents passed away when I was young, not able to understand deeply the pain that comes when anyone leaves you.  

The first death that I saw was after my marriage. My husband’s Naniji (grandmother) was not keeping well and had become too fragile. We knew she would go soon, but I wasn’t prepared that she will go like this. I was sitting beside her, when all of a sudden I heard her sound that as weird. I was alone with my younger sister- in-laws at home that time.

“Naniji, are you ok?”

No answer.

“Naniji, you want water?”

No answer.

I took her head in my lap, kept rubbing her head, chest and hands.

“Naniji, say something​!” I was shouting and crying simultaneously.

I could sense something was wrong, but I didn’t want to accept that easily. I kept her head in my lap till my in-laws came and told that she has gone. I felt helpless. I only thought if I could have spent more time with her.

“Death is not the opposite of life, it is a part of it”, everyone has to face this harsh reality.

Life is short and uncertain. Don’t wait for big moments or occasions. Tell your beloved ones, your near and dear ones, that you care for them, you need them and love them.

“Cherish those in your life because you don’t know when they won’t be there anymore.”

CAN WORDS SOOTHE PAIN?

Hope everyone is fine and hope it’s a beautiful day for everyone.

Just the way no life can survive without air and water, no soul is untouched by Pain. Death, heartbreak, rejection – only the situation in life changes but not the result. It’s same every time – PAIN. And I know there would be no disagreement on this statement.

And when pain is inevitable there are ways to deal with it.

So my question is “How do you deal with pain?”  Rather I would like to ask “what do you do to soothe pain of others?”  There’s a reason supporting my question – a person in pain needs a pull from an external factor in the form of friend or family.  So in that capacity of a friend or family what’s your tool to soothe pain of your loved ones?

If you ask me, it’s plainly plain Words for me, spoken with warmth.

Having said that I would like to share with you all an incident that took place more than a decade ago.

She was my friend (it’s been more than a decade  since I last spoke to her and no more in touch even on social media, tried to trace her but all futile 😔).  She used to live just opposite to our apartment in Delhi.  Her name is Hema, the only girl in the family of five –  a father, mother and two brothers.  Her mother was confined to bed for years even before I knew her.  Her day used to begin with taking care of her mother and ended up doing so apart from handling all the household chores with close to no support from her brothers while her father was busy with earning for the family.

I had an immense respect for her for the young girl she was and shouldering the responsibilities of home is something I could have never mustered courage for.  And similarly she found solace in my company.  Her mother was also fond of me as I used to spend some time with her too.

Days were passing happily and one day I heard something unusual from Hema’s place. First I thought relatives might have visited them and everyone is having a good time, sharing good laughter.  A glance and a better observation revealed that those were not gags but painful sobs.  Aunty was no more!  I was shocked as I met her after two days.

I immediately hurried up to their place.  I saw Hema there, devastated, clinging to her mother crying inconsolably.  That nearly broke my heart too to see her in such a pitiable state. But I have to console her, it’s my responsibility.

I hugged her and said “I won’t ask you to stop crying or wipe your tears for your pain is beyond imagination for me. I am not sure if I should say this or not, this is in a way a freedom to your mother; freedom from all the pain and agony she has been silently suffering for so many years. She might not have said this but she was equally worried for you as you were for her. And if you believe that your mother is with you eternally then you should show her your brave face because all her life she wanted to see you happy. Let the tears flow to ease out the burden but promise me you would live the way  your mother wanted you to because she is from somewhere watching you”

My words are no doubt clichéd but they did have an impact on her. The turbulence on her face seemed to fade out and a calmness took over. Her loss is is beyond what words can explain but this is the truth of life. And her mother did want her to be happy and her agony made her curse herself for her daughter’s plight. In a way it was a liberation to the poor soul.

I firmly believe that words have power to soothe. There are many instances and losses in life which are beyond one’s control hence any apparent help is impossible. Then how would you convey that you are with your loved one’s in their times of distress.  A warm hug, tears and your soothing words will convey your concern.

BE AN EMPATHIZER, NOT AN ADVISER

Advises!

Suggestions!

Taunts!

They irked me so much during my sickness last month. I even warned few of my family members, shouted at them and reprimanded few of my friends lovingly.

People usually showed their sympathy and started giving examples according to their thinking and understanding of the matter or issue. There were very few who could really understand what I was going through at that particular moment of my suffering. ‘Empathy’, what I was needed, not sympathy from the people around me.

In sympathy, emotions are predominant. The sympathizer relates emotionally with the person concerned. But in empathy the intellect and discerning are predominant. The empathizer focuses on understanding the person’s frame of mind, his/her context, how he/she feels and why. Then it becomes easier for him/her to talk, counsel, console and comfort the victim in a better and successful way.

A classic differentiation between sympathy and empathy was displayed by Liza  in her poem: Sympathy and Empathy a Poem have a look at it.

A week ago I elucidated few encouraging messages that I received while I was in the hospital. And I was elated and strengthened by each of one of those messages because each of those messages reflected the sender’s empathetic heart.

An empathizer always puts his/her feet into the victim’s shoe and try to understand how it feels to be in that shoe.

Just imagine about the person who has lost his/her spouse or children. Consoling that person or a bereaved is all the more difficult as the grief level of a bereaved is the highest in comparison to any other sadness or grief. How can we be empathetic in that case if we do not have any such experiences in our own life?

Let me give an example I just remembered. When my cousin died of an accident and I was weeping for him before flying for his funeral my aunt here in Kolkata was trying to comfort me as she was also in pain. She was saying, “I can imagine how it will feel if my son would have died today. The pain of that mother is so great who had lost her son.” That’s a cry of an empathetic heart. And I have seen her comforting me, my wife and few others at different times. She is the best in doing so.

We had a week for a topic called, “Managing Grief” last year in 2016. I wrote an article where I had mentioned about few things that we should remember while consoling or comforting a bereaved. They were: Listening to them patiently, Giving them a hug, Allow them to weep or wail, Cry with them, Talk less with them, Don’t force them for anything and so on.

I quite liked this statement that I stumbled upon in WordPress:

What is the true essence of therapy? What is a key aspect in loving? What is understanding? The answer to these questions is an ability within self that requires learning and growing, this ability is empathy

Recently, I came across the term, “Validation through Empathy“. Psychology Today says, “Validation is the recognition and acceptance of another person’s thoughts, feelings,  sensations, and behaviors as understandable.  We may approve it or not that’s a different matter but we accept and understand the person and his/her feelings.

I have a video which can really make sense and help us all to understand the concept of Validation through Empathy. Let’s watch it.

Whoa! Excellent! Isn’t it?

I have been trying desperately to be a person like that… A person who will not judge other’s frailty but understand and accept his/her actions, emotions and mind. I sensed people feel comfortable with me, sharing their hearts because to some extent I could provide the warmth of that empathy which they desperately need when they are vulnerable. And I will strive more and more to be validating their emotions through empathy.

Dear Friends! Our level of empathy actually determines how good we can be in consoling or comforting those who are going through difficult situations.

Keep reading, keep learning and keep leaving your feedback.

Stay Blessed!

HOW TO CONSOLE A BEREAVED?

Couple of years back I had to face one of the most difficult situations of my life twice. It was, talking to the wives of their deceased husbands. My voice was shaking and I was stammering. I was unable to choose my words while speaking to them. Somehow I managed to talk to them in two different days.

Afterwards, I was pondering on this matter deeply.  I recalled  the time when my brother died in an road accident in January 2011; I was in the same condition as they were now. I just tried to recall the messages and the calls and the consoling words of people for me at that time of bereavement. Some were irritating, overdone and some were quite comforting.

Finally, I came out with a list of Dos’ and Don’ts’, which will give us an idea about this matter. 

Listening Patiently: When we face a bereaved family, the first thing we have to do is just listen to them/him/her patiently. She/he will cry, sob, speak deliriously and we will have to be just quiet and listen carefully. That was one thing really helped us when people came and listened to us at that particular time of grief.

Give a hug: “Jaddu ki Jhappi” (Hindi), ‘a hug’, really comforts. If it’s possible on our part to give a hug then we should not hesitate to give it as soon as we face them. But be careful of the situation and when we are comforting a person of opposite sex. We need to be sensitive and responsible enough of our each actions. 

Don’t stop them from weeping: Some people try to stop the bereaved persons from crying by saying, “Please don’t cry… the person won’t come back… .” I will slap a person if I face that kind of comfort from him/her. We should never stop the bereaved from weeping in fact we should allow and encourage them to weep and wail more. That will help them to unburden themselves. They will feel lighter if they do so.

Cry with them: If possible when they cry or weep, we should cry with them. It will give them a sense that we are also sorrowful as them. It doesn’t mean that if we don’t feel like crying we will pretend to cry. It should be natural. We may not weep if we don’t feel like.

Don’t describe about the deceased: We should not describe about the deceased in front of the family members again and again with others. That doesn’t give them opportunity to divert themselves from the situation. Even sometimes that irritates them.

Don’t force them to eat more, if they don’t feel like: We should never force them to eat more or do something which they don’t want to do. We should give them enough space to gather their own strength and come back to their old state of mind. But we should always be careful about their food and physical health. Grief is highly draining. It sucks all the juices and energy of person’s body. 

It is really difficult to specify which are the correct ways of consoling a particular family or person. But the above points really gave me comfort and I think those will be helpful for all of us when we face this kind of situations in our lives.

Be blessed!