It was long drive with one of my relatives. He was dropping me at the airport. I’ve always liked him; he’s a nice man. It was almost an hour’s drive, so we had enough time to talk about a lot of things. We started off with regular things like travel, work, etc. Then slowly, he asked about Ayden. I was happy. I was happy that he remembered my son. I was happy to hear his name. I was happy to answer all his questions.
A few minutes later, I wanted him to stop talking. Reason – he wanted me to forget, he wanted me to move on, he wanted me to not think about it. I gave enough hints to say that it hurts, and I don’t want to talk about it now. He just wouldn’t get it. I wasn’t angry, but I was very disappointed. I was helpless. I was very hurt.
I was being polite and didn’t want to be rude. I thought he would understand, but I was wrong.
I was thinking of that conversation throughout my flight. This time I was angry. Why would he tell me how I should be? Am I wrong if I judge him for what he told me?
A similar conversation happened with a friend. She called me to pass on her condolences. She asked how I was doing. I said, I’m fine. I lied. She immediately responded – I’m glad you are fine. Anyway, what is the point of thinking about it all the time. Just forget it. I was very surprised & shocked to hear that. My already broken heart broke further into million other pieces, but I still didn’t respond. Then she added – take it as an experience. That’s it. This time, I couldn’t take it. I told her, politely enough – I will not forget it or him. I don’t want to forget.
Take it as an experience? Really? And, that that’s it was the icing on the cake. I was furious. Why didn’t I tell her that then? I have no answer.
Just because I smile, laugh or seem alright to you doesn’t mean I’m over it. I will never be.
In both the instances, I hid my anger. I was polite. Why? Because, you know, grief is personal and you are kinda expected to grieve in private. And, that’s a problem.
There’s so much stigma on grieving. The traditional accepted notion of grief is to cry. You cry as much as you want. But, it’s not accepted beyond a point. There’s an unwritten timeframe. You are expected to get over after that socially stipulated timeframe. If you still mourn, you are looked at as negative. You are someone who doesn’t want to be happy.
1 month, 6 months, 1 year, 10 years… I will still grieve. I will mourn my son. If that makes you uncomfortable, that still doesn’t give you the license to give me unsolicited advice on getting over or being happy.
Please don’t tell me how I should divert my mind. Please don’t tell me that I need to be happy. I don’t see anyone asking a terminally ill person to just snap out of the illness. Our grief is similar. We just can’t snap out of it.
I very well know that life has to go on. But after child loss, it goes on very differently. Please give us that chance to breath again. Please let us grieve or mourn in our own way. Please don’t ask us to forget. Please don’t force us to be happy. We’re happy in our own way. We’re happy thinking of our son. We’d be happier if you understood us a little bit and let us live the grief, because that’s the truth.
To that relative of mine who wanted me not to grieve – just for a second, just for one single second, think. Think of your little boy in that situation. I hate to tell you this, but there’s no other way I can make you remotely understand what I’m going through.