The scourge of the pandemic has left a trail of death and destruction in its wake. For months we relied heavily on our survival instinct, desperately trying to arrange hospital beds and oxygen as the disease gripped us and the ones we loved. Many of us have been compelled to put our mental health on the back-burner owing to such precarious circumstances. The unimaginable grief that accompanies the sudden loss of a loved one has been further compounded in the context of the pandemic. This is in part due to the absence of the familial and social ecosystem which helps the bereaved to fill the void left behind by that person. However, harnessing the power of technology has enabled us to stay in touch with our well wishers and keep this ecosystem intact to a certain extent. 

It is said that grief has several stages, each playing a unique role in the person’s emotional recuperation from loss. The immediate days and weeks following the tragedy are marked by denial. We simply cannot process the fact that the person with whom we laughed, ate and shared a special bond is seemingly gone forever. For many of us, our routine undergoes a drastic change owing to the absence of that person in our lives. The manner in which we adapt ourselves to such conditions depends from person to  person. Our respective support systems could vary from spirituality and  meditation to the use of Netflix and social media as a distraction from the novel unfamiliarity of life. There are some who channel their grief into the pursuit of productivity, thereby keeping their minds preoccupied. Following the demise of my grandfather two years ago, I took to writing as a hobby. It allowed me to look back on the intimate bond which we had shared and recall fond memories of a life well lived. All of these are defence  mechanisms which enable us to keep our raw emotions in check and regain a semblance of sanity after the initial shock.  

Repressed emotions come to the fore during the next stage of grief. It is imperative to meet them headlong and quit shying away from our own selves any longer. Crying is not a sin, rhetorical as it may sound. Neither is sharing the burden of grief with those whom we trust to listen. Always keep sight of the fact that a person cannot truly die till the day their name is forgotten. Not everyone would share my belief in guardian angels, but I find it comforting to know that we’re never alone. The physical absence of those who depart this world is but an interlude to their eternal omnipresence, utilised to guide us on the right path.

Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened. Time may not necessarily heal such deep wounds, but it accustoms us to live with them at the very least. We need to allow ourselves the breathing space required to process the complex emotions associated with grief and come out stronger by the end of it. The path to a bright future shall be visible only when the dust settles in the present.

-Aniruddh Maniktala