I yesterday told you that I believe religious philosophies do not help at all when someone is in grief about the loss of a loved one. I told you that you just have to accept it. Of course that is the reality but there are some stages to it and I would like to tell you from my own experience how I think that process looks like.
First of all, there is a time of shock. Of course the depth and length of this shock depends very much on the question whether it was an expected or unexpected death and how close you were to the deceased.
If I speak of myself, it was one week in the case of my younger sister, who died in a car accident in 2006, while I was not even in India. For a complete week, I was like a madman, not able to accept what had happened. I did not cry and couldn’t let it out. One morning I got up and told my younger brother he should search for her on Google, we would find her there, she would be there! I was simply in denial of reality. One day however, reality reached me and I could finally cry.
After Ammaji died with all of us around her, in spite of our effort to take her to the hospital, I felt like a stone again. Since the moment we knew that she had left us forever until her cremation was over, no tears reached my eyes. Only when we came back to the Ashram, an empty Ashram without my mother in there, grief hit me and I cried. We all cried.
This is, I believe, the next step, and a very important one, too. You need to let the grief take over. Allow the sadness to pour out of you, in the form of tears and sobs, let your crying shake you. It is necessary to go through this and to not hold your emotions back!
I know that many people don’t let this step happen properly. Whether it is their own nature or their culture, they keep up that wall of stone around their heart and just don’t let the pain get out. They suppress, something which is never good. You have to allow it for it to pass. You can do it alone in your room but I tell you, nobody will judge you for those tears! Sharing the grief with someone else will not only give you faster relief but it will eternally connect you with this other person!
Life will go on. You will need to adjust and maybe that gap that this person left will never be filled. For a time I was not able to look at my sister’s pictures at all. Even with Ammaji’s pictures it was hard. But I believe it is healthy to take them out after some time and revive the beautiful memories of an earlier time.
There may be people who in our situation would never again eat Gakadiya (bread on open coal fire) or Gajar ka Halwa (a sweet carrot dish) again – because our mother made the best of the world and we only ever ate it from her hands. We know how to prepare it though and we have staff who learned from her, so we cook and eat. While we eat, we remember the taste of Gakadiya and Gajar ka Halwa made by her hands and then maybe shed a tear or two together or just eat together in memory of her love.
Life goes on and we go on along with it. We keep the memories in our hearts and feel the love. Don’t try to ban the memories from your heart. Live them, love them and feel how they bring that person very close to you again, in your heart.