Thursday, November 6, 2014

[Slice of Life] - About Grieving

I was attending a 3-day workshop about performing a training and at the end of it, the facilitator told us to complement another participant, and I was told,
"I did not know what you were going to talk about, but when I saw you smiled, I felt like I wanted to follow whatever it is you are going to talk about. You smile all the time, keep it up."
To me, this came as a surprise. It has been two weeks since my dad's passing, and I had left Indonesia for Switzerland to resume working.

The first three days after his passing was a terrible ordeal. First, I had to sit down for at least 19 hours in public transportation, holding back from screaming, punching the window of the train or the plane or yelling at the two kids sitting next to me to stop looking at me and making so much irritating noise. I had to bear with not able to do anything or ask anything in detail because my brother had to take care of the situation and my mother was just in hysterical mode.

The second day, I arrived and saw my dad's face, bloated, blue and pale. His nostrils were stuffed with cotton, and his lips purple. Black stains covered half of his face, and his hands were stiff and cold. His eyes were closed, and I can't even remember the colour of his eyes. The only part of the skin I could see was his face, yet when I touched it, it was like touching a block of ice that would never melt.

Flashbacks of memories that were normally kept at the bottom of my mind's cabinet were suddenly finding their way out and they started to flood my brain. Happy times became sorrows and sad times became regrets. Many what-if's started to haunt me, but as pitiful as they are, what-if's cannot change anything. They bring nothing but stabs to your heart, leaving scars in process.

Worse, I had not expected that many people visiting my late father. It should have been a grateful thing, but it made me unable to properly talk to and pray for my father. Every single time I started a prayer, guests came and I just had to explain again and again how my father died, when I was not even there when he died and until now I don't even exactly know how he died. I felt helpless.

Pretty much the same thing happened on the third day. I was better at handling crowds and ignore the sound of flash and shutter of a camera. I was better at ignoring the stares of visitors. I heard stories of deaths related to the visitors of my late father. Stories telling me that age did not matter. That even a person doing regular exercises could die of the same cause. That it would take time to heal.

Still, to be honest, what I wanted to do was to smash everything in the room and scream,
"Why did you not wait for me?"
I was ready to go home for Christmas. I had worked hard the week before he passed away so I could go home and spend good times at home. I did not spend much time with my late father a week before his passing. I should have had spared some time to talk to him longer. Regret is a bitch; it always comes after, but never before. Regret brings frustration, and frustration brings tears.

In the end, crying solves nothing. Grieving solves nothing. Not having appetite solves nothing. They just create problems and worries. They leave things undone.

But still, I discovered that even if people tell you to stop crying, you should not.

Cry when you have to cry. And remember what you felt when you cried. Remember that numbing pain, that hopelessness, that uselessness of yourself, that weak, ugly you.

And then look at a picture of you before all these happened.

Is this who you are?

Don't let grief define you. Don't let it distort your identity. Grief can reshape the future, but it must not destroy it.

Grief is there to make you remember to spend your time more carefully and wisely. To remind you that nothing is eternal. To humble yourself to say sorry even if you are not in the wrong, and to give you courage to say "I love you".

Today, I shared the story of my loss to the person who complimented me on my smile. After saying a few words of condolences, he told me,
"The part where you keep smiling... it's your personality. Don't lose it."
Friends and readers who are grieving, who grieved and perhaps one day will grieve: don't lose yourself. Slowly but steadily pull yourself back up. Time to time you may fall again, but be strong. Pray, and believe in yourself. And once you are back in shape, remember to help those who fall into the pit of grief, just as how others have helped you.


  1. :'( I'm tearing while reading this… stay strong Anin!


Comments are welcome, but please comment responsibly :)