Thank You Grief For The Lessons
By Joyce Wonsono
Parenting & Grief Recovery Specialist
I lost my brother in March 2009. He was not sick or anything, he was perfectly healthy. He was there one moment and the next day he was gone. The suddenness of his passing stunned me. I was honestly too shocked and scared to react and I felt numb inside. I didn’t grief until much later, when my mind finally comprehended that I would never get to see him again. I grieved for his youth, for the potential he could have been, for being gone too soon. I grieved for not being able to protect him, for not being there for him when he needed us, for not understanding him better. I grieved because the world lost one of the kindest men; he was one of the good ones. And I grieved for my parents. They were so heartbroken, my father had a heart attack and since then his heart was only functioning at 50-60%. My mother appeared well on the outside, but she never really fully recovered I feel.
I lost my father April 2016. His death was also sudden. It was unexpected as he just had his check up with his cardiologist, who had told him his heart condition was all good, the day before he passed away in the wee hours of the morning. We believed he had hypoglycaemia heart attack, for he was diabetic and his sugar level was very unstable the last few days before he passed on. We are not sure to this day, if that was really what happened. I remembered the night before he passed away, whilst in the car on the way home from dinner, we just talked about how he needed to stay healthy and lived long enough to see my children graduate from college. He didn’t even get to see my oldest graduate from kindergarten. I was also a few months pregnant then with my third child, my youngest son. He didn’t get to see him either.
My dad’s passing crushed me. He was my rock and my pillar. Our family was a patriarchal one such that everyone had to listen to him and everything revolved around him that when he passed on, he left a huge hole not only in my heart but also in the family dynamic. I felt a bottomless sadness that I did not know how to deal with.
Most people around us tried to cheer us up, tried to say and do the right thing. But saying my brother or my father were both in a better place didn’t make it better. I know they are in a better place, but at the time I felt that they shouldn’t be anywhere else, they belonged here with us. Or they would say, try not to think too much about it, try to move on, go travel. Most people were not too comfortable with sadness and we can feel their discomfort, so we tried not to show it either. When they asked, “How are you?” I felt like asking, “you want the truth or what you wanted to hear?”
To be honest, it’s not just them. I didn’t know how to deal with my own grief. I became emotionally unstable, I lashed out on my kids over the most menial matter. I pushed my mum to go for meditation workshops and persuaded her to sign up for yoga classes. I thought the only way we could move on was to numb ourselves with busyness, to not think too much, not feel so much, and eventually time would heal the sadness, or that the pain would eventually go away, like how a wound would eventually heal itself. I very much wanted to share how I felt with someone, but the only ones I felt would understand, were my mom and sis. They were grieving too so I kept to myself.
I was feeling very overwhelmed with so much unresolved emotions and I felt lost. The one person I dedicated my life to pleasing, was gone. I became directionless and I kept wondering why did these two events had to happen. Why did we have to lose both men in our family? Looking for some answers, I finally decided to sign up for Awaken The Divine You Program conducted at The Golden Space Indonesia by Master Umesh Nandwani. I thought perhaps learning to meditate could help me deal with the sadness better and it would help stabilize me as I was worried I would traumatize the children with my depression.
After continuous inner reflections, meditation retreats and numerous sessions with practitioners from The Golden Space Indonesia, I am truly grateful to be where I am at right now. I would not go as far to say I am completely over my grief. I read a blog by Katherine Schafler, a psychotherapist practicing in New York that:
“Grieving is also not a linear process. One moment you feel you’ve fully moved past something, the next moment it’s right back in front of your face.”
It does not mean I have not made any progress, it just simply meant I have uncovered a deeper layer of my emotional triggers that I need to resolve. The difference now is, I no longer questions why they happened. I fully accepted whatever happened in my life happened, so I could grow spiritually and as a soul. Grief forced me to look deeper within myself and asked myself what truly mattered to me. It also pushed me to look for my why, to keep moving forward and fulfil the purpose of my existence. Honestly, I never wondered about any of these until I lost my dearest father. That being said, when I meditated and see visions of him and my brother, I still do cry sometimes. I cried because I missed them. Just like when you missed your loved ones when they are away.
Recently I found a quote that I very much resonate with. It was a quote by David Kessler, “healing occurs not when grief gets smaller, but when life gets bigger.” Life gets bigger for me when I learned the lessons from my grieving and shares it with others. Perhaps through my sharing, I made someone’s grief a little lighter.
To all of you who are grieving or have not fully resolve your grief, I would like to say, it doesn’t have to always be this way. Time does not heal the pain. Its just buried or forgotten, but we all know what happened to all wound left unattended. Recognise and acknowledge the pain, go through the process and come out the other side as a newer stronger happier version of us. It is more than possible.