The Emotional Aspect Of Grief, Which Later Became My Friend!

Grief

Grief…I have written a lot of poetry about this word, which ceased to be a word for me long back and became an ever-encompassing emotion, just like the threatening dark clouds, which refuse to break away without torrential rain.

I know this emotion is not individualistic. I know it is all pervading and agonizing but when it starts defining life for us at a very young age, it becomes a part of our personality.

That is how it assaulted me, devoid of any compassion with killer instinct to annihilate my existence.

I had to deal with it single-handed, finding excuses to hide away from it, putting up a brave front, denying its existence and even shoving it into the obscure corners of my mind.

We can do so when we are very young, burying our memories with the hope that they will remain repressed. Dwelling in the world of denial we move on, pursuing our dreams and basking in their glory.

Forgetting that no glory lasts forever. Oblivious of the reality that grief is an incessant stream that flows into our life time and again and brings all those boulders back, which we had discarded in the hope of never meeting again.

It is like an ember that keeps glowing in one corner of our heart, which keeps reminding that it is real, it is persistent, it cannot die.

How can you expect a child to grieve? A child who doesn’t even know this word, who is suddenly thrown into the sea and expected to swim!

How can you tell a child to shed tears and empathize with those who want to glorify grief?

‘How dare you smile or laugh’…people remind us and compel us to keep the grief alive in our heart.

I can recollect a feeling of emptiness, of loneliness, of guilt encompassing me, shrieking…keep that emotion alive. A reprimand arising out of my heart…dare you not abandon it!

Such is the way of the world or that is what I experienced. Moments of joy were snatched away not just by the dead, who left me behind but even those who were alive because they chose to live in sorrow.Grief quote

Grief is one emotion that can never be suppressed… I learnt this lesson in the prime of my adolescence; it is better to accept it, embrace it and conduct a meaningful dialogue with it.

Give it some time to let it percolate, assess your strength, build it further and emerge emotionally resilient. Only grief can do it. It is only in misery that we learn to become understanding. Our vibes of sensitivity become more functional. We become resistant to judgments.

We learn to live with it.

“Grief is like the ocean; it comes on waves ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim.” – Vicki Harrison

After all the tears and heartbreaking moments of anguish, grief starts diluting itself and steps out. We just have to open the doors and windows to let it ease. Now it re-enters in a new form if we are ready to accept him like a friend.

When I befriended grief it started patting on my back, it sat with me to reassure that it would welcome joy. I was astounded that it too loved to break free. Now both of us enjoy freedom, soar with each other, laughter accompanies us and we have vanquished negative thoughts.

We pour our concerns and tears into poetry, which is all-absorbing and provides us with somber solace.

Grief is our best friend:

It acquaints us with our inner self.

It makes us ponder to understand its nuances.

It makes us wiser and more tolerant.

It reinforces our faith and strength.

It ennobles us.

It introduces us to joy, which lies in little, fleeting moments.

Have you found a friend in grief by accepting it? Do you like this new relationship? I would love to hear your views.

The above extract, adapted from my next book, which is in initial stages, may seem gloomy and out of place but grief is one word that surely touches our lives with its cold hand, at some stage of life.

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Thank you for your support. Please add your valuable comments, they are much appreciated.

Balroop Singh.

 

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41 thoughts on “The Emotional Aspect Of Grief, Which Later Became My Friend!

  1. Another gem of a post, Balroop, that is bound to create ripples in the minds of all, as grief is everyone’s companion, and happiness just an occasional visitor. Grief ennobles, strengthens, it is cathartic, humbling, anchors one to the reality of existence and fuels life’s journey, if one masters the art of living with it. Samuel Johnson put it well when he said, “while grief is fresh, every attempt to divert only irritates. You must wait till it be digested, and then amusement will dissipate the remains of it”. George Eliot comments in a novel on one of her characters that “she was no longer wrestling with grief, but could sit down with it as a lasting companion and make it a sharer in her thoughts”. More than two decades ago, during my years in the Middle East, I happened to listen to a discourse by a visiting spiritual leader from, where else, India. Drawing on several parallels in life and nature, he explained that sorrow and happiness are intertwined, the one resides in the other, as sweetest songs telling about saddest thoughts, in sunshine days following gloomiest nights, or spring coming after drabness of autumn and chilly winters. Grief forces introspection, exhorting the individual to delve deep within, as resonated in the statement of Kahlil Gibran, “when you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in Truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight”…best wishes.

    1. Hi Raj

      Thank you for adding so much value to this post with your insights…yes it has created so many more ripples as grief always does.

      I am sharing an extract of one of my earlier poems, which helped me delve deeper:

      I know it is self- healer
      I know it unfolds the truth of transience.
      I don’t want to wish it away
      I want to let it penetrate my skin
      Let the flames of its fire
      Steel my bones, fortify my spirit.

  2. I love how you associated grief with boulders, Balroop. More often than not, we think of grief as a stumbling block, an emotion that bogs us down and slows us down in life. Interesting that you mention loneliness too when we feel grief. I suppose often we don’t want to bother others with our grief, don’t want to spread this “negative” emotion around and bring them down.

    So true that grief acquaints us with joy. I remember a few years ago, I was struggling to find something I loved doing. I was really “bad” at writing, could never really get good grades at university. Then, I just pushed on. Kept writing and writing and then blogging and blogging, and then more writing and writing – and today I have found something I really like doing. Thanks for another inspiring post 🙂

    1. Hi Mabel,

      I have pushed these boulders out of my way, never let them block my way. Growing up with grief provides a unique strength, which can never waver in the face of any misfortune. Yes, loneliness is the younger sister of grief but all these negative emotions cease to have their effect when we learn to befriend them. It takes us through the darkest caverns but the light at the end of such chambers is always brighter.

      Thanks for sharing your own struggle with this emotion. Most of the time it scares us away and give up! When we face it persistently, it recedes. Stay blessed and let your inspiration keep you soaring.

  3. Grief is a strong emotion. We can never conquer it fully, but the strength we need to fight against it eventually makes us stronger and wiser. Grief can be cathartic too, the suppressed disappointments find their way through it….

    You have explained it nicely… 🙂

    1. Hi Mani,

      I am glad you have summed it so well…strength, wisdom and hope, that is what we pick up unconsciously when we emerge out of it. Catharsis is an essential part of grief, the only fact is that we realise it much later.

      Thanks for sharing your perspective, it is greatly valued.

  4. this is such an important but difficult topic. You’ve expressed your experience with it to inspire us to accept grief. It’s an unavoidable part of life so we’re best to make friends with it. What an intuitive perspective, Balroop. It must have been so difficult for you as a child trying to understand this dark emotion.Sometimes we grieve for the living and I’m not sure if that’s worse or maybe it’s just a lesson to appreciate those wonderful people who are still in our life.

    1. Hi Lisa,

      We don’t understand emotions so well when we are young but in that confused state of mind when we wonder what is expected of us and why, the learning process goes on…some memories and thoughts get embedded, which emerge later, when we are mature enough to analyse them and let them go. I couldn’t distinguish between happiness and grief as joy was not allowed to enter. when happiness starts scaring, we tend to embrace whatever is available and so I found a friend that could never betray me!

      Life can be so uncanny at times! Thanks for sharing your thoughts, dear friend. Loved your insights.

  5. Wise words throughout, Balroop. I especially love the way you describe how grief is diluted over time and that the process is one of befriending. Grief does have a way of shaping one’s life. Children’s grief often leaves adults at a loss, unable to respond appropriately – as you so painfully describe. When I used to do grief counseling for children, my favorite book was “Guiding your Child through Grief” by Mary Ann Emswiler. If you are interested, I highly recommend it. ❤

    1. Hi Diana,

      Thanks for the appreciation. I learnt painstakingly that grief can become positive too as I discovered that it becomes its own antidote after a long association. Children may find it confounding but those experiences do leave an indelible mark on their psyche. if handled in a positive manner, it becomes a boon otherwise it may leave them psychologically shattered.

      Thanks for that mention of a book 🙂

  6. A very profound and beautifully written post Balroop. You are so right in saying that we can shove grief to the back of our mind and yet it keeps surfacing. So better to have a meaningful dialogue with grief, come to terms with it, accept it and move on. It may still not completely be gone, but yes we would have learnt to cope with it.

    1. Thanks Somali, I appreciate your kind words.
      We learn through our ordeals that grief is better off as a friend as it keeps crossing our path at will. Acceptance prepares us mentally to welcome it whenever it comes, without a phone call and also endows us with the willpower to handle it well. But this kind of wisdom dawns very slowly!

  7. Dealing with grief takes each of us along within our own journey.. Some never allow grief to be their friend.. And so prolong the agony of loss..
    Learning to embrace grief and release our emotions help..

    I remember I was so very strong when my Dad died.. having looked after him with my sister after his illness with lung cancer at home, as that was his wish.. I wrote a poem for his funeral and although my voice broke I didn’t break down..

    It was later, in my own home I ran a bath, and put on some loud Native American Drumming and chants.. I howled, noises I never thought I could make.. but I released the grief that I had held in so long as I was trying to be strong for my Dad and my sister and family…

    A new sense of peace then swept over me… I knew my Dad was smiling,,

    Your post is very wise.. 🙂 and I thank you for sharing x
    Blessings Sue

    1. Hi Sue,

      You are absolutely right…the prolonging of agony is very much in our own temperament. When we are young, our first reaction is anger and disbelief. We ask…why me? What have I done? We refuse to accept any advice, any logic. We feel shattered, we don’t want to come out self compassion. All this causes grievous hurt.

      Life teaches us as we continue our journey and face various setbacks. We realise that real peace lies within us, only we can meet it, only we can help ourselves. I am glad you could deal with your irreparable loss in the most resilient manner and vent it out also. Thanks for sharing it, it eases to a great extent.

      Thank you so much for standing by and sharing your moments of wisdom in grief. Stay blessed!

  8. I love how you say when you befriended grief it patted you on the back.
    When my brother and father died, it was interesting to watch how we handled our grief differently. I think it had much to do with the position we each are in on our journey. There were a few who became victims and were angry and downright mean at times. While the others of us were sad we didn’t obsess over every detail of our lives with them or obsess over living without them. Perhaps, it could have been letting go without having regrets binding us to our grief.

    1. It is very difficult to understand the grief of another person and as you say everyone has one’s own way of handling it. The onslaught of this emotion can be very shocking at times and at such times it numbs, it breaks us into smithereens, blinds and leaves us dumbfounded. Emerging from such a grief is a big struggle.

      Thanks for standing by to share your view.

  9. I feel your losses in your grieving words. I feel saddened by those left behind who did not try to be cheerful for the child who needed love, tenderness and happier days. Balroop, this was strongly written and took my heart and squeezed it. I grieve for your childhood. Hugs, Robin

    1. Thanks Robin, your words of empathy speak to me, they have touched the right chords. I am so grateful to you for being so understanding. I have always tried to look at it in a positive manner…my darkest moments have been the best teachers. Hugs back to you too 🙂

  10. I could imagine a child going through grief, and it makes one sad as children do not know how to deal with it. All they need in such times is love from adults.
    But without knowing the actual situation in your article, I cannot say more.

    People who have actually seen too much grief generally do not want it around. They are not able to glamorize it. But most filmy heroes say they do not want a cure for their grief (mere dukh ki koi dawa na kare…something like that). Many lovely ghazals by Jagjit Singh also have this feeling of having reached a stage when people not only learn to live with grief but begin to like it as that’s the only thing they have. The couple had lost their only son to death, so they didn’t want to stop thinking about him, even if the grieving memories brought too much pain.

    This article takes us back to our own grief. Having seen too many deaths in all its horrid forms, some old some very fresh, I have a lot to write on this topic. But it saddens…so I’ll let it go.

    Much love and happiness to all.

  11. I’ve learned many lessons about grief these past ten months, and yes, the most important one is that it can’t be ignored. My therapist actually prescribed that I write in my journal and then give myself permission to cry about being abandoned by my husband. By doing that, I am gradually getting reacquainted with my inner self.

    1. Hi Jeri,

      I am so sorry for the grief you have been dealing with for the past ten months. We always learn from it, we learn to bear it and yes, writing your painful thoughts or sharing them with a person who cares about you always helps.
      I know you will emerge stronger and happiness will be waiting for you at the end of this dark avenue. My best wishes will always be with you.

  12. Several years ago, I lost a good friend, following a falling out that had been precipitated by his alcoholism. We never got to reconcile before his death, and up until a week ago, I carried the pain deep inside me, questioning a relationship that for so many years was as close as could be. Last week, I finally did what I had been unable to do for those several years: grieve. I cried my eyes out and finally admitted to myself that what I had been harboring was not anger, but grief. I missed/miss my friend. But at least now, the memories are not clouded by bitterness, but reinforced with love.
    As usual, you’ve evoked some serious emotions with your post.
    Thanks!

    1. Hi Joe,

      I know boys are raised with the drilling…you have to control your tears, you are a man! What a burden they are expected to carry! I have never understood how men can be different so far as emotions are concerned…how can they keep all that within? how can they bury so much pain and anguish in their heart? Tears are so cathartic and sharing your grief lightens the baggage.
      Whenever I asked my male students of 17+ why they didn’t express their views openly, they just smiled but didn’t come out with any reasons and the ones who did said only this…they are expected to be strong! Often I guided them out of their anguish, encouraging them to share their feelings and emotions, let them flow naturally like a river.

      I am glad you have realised this fact and found solace. Thanks for sharing a personal story of grief.

  13. After the murder of Kay, I almost drowned inside my own grief; the darkness, hopelessness, pain, ache, and brokenness nearly killed me….

    Almost.

    Once I decided to walk directly thru the darkness, the healing started.
    Once I decided to seek gratitude ( this took 4 years ), the healing began.

    But I shall never be completely whole.

    xxx kiss and appreciation from MN. xx

    1. Hi Kim,

      Some sores never heal, even if we try to convince ourselves that they have…and why should they? They are connected with our heart, with our own dear ones. I like going into those those dark corridors, which became my friends, which provided solace as well as the courage to deal with my grief…I love them now as they have buried my tears and my sighs…who could have done it better than them?

      I can understand your pain and agony, I can hear those shrieks which we try to suppress within…no years can ever be enough, I know.
      Love and hugs, dear friend from California.

  14. A great post Balroop.

    For me , grief underlines an important life’s lesson. It is only when we are in the depths of grief do we start appreciating the blessings of our normal life. Normalcy, which we otherwise take for granted. And agonise over strands of that normalcy, comparing always with ‘what could have been’, life’s regrets and misses, to extract imagined griefs.

    I have found that most grief emanates from the question, “Why me?” We can shift the context and the grief by inquiring, ” Why not me?”

    Shakti

    1. Hi Shakti,

      Thanks for a very positive message…yes, we start understanding grief as we learn to handle it. We start counting our blessings after we emerge from the depths of anguish, which grief pushes us into. It takes a lot of time and maturity to arrive at such a state of mind. It is only by wading through deep waters that we learn to swim!

      Thank you so much for your visit with profound insights. Learning from each other takes us further.

  15. Excellent post, dear Balroop!… So poignant and well stated… The ending excerpt wich related Grief to Friendship is accurate and your words, wise and inspirational, as ever. All my best wishes. Hugs! Aquileana 😉

  16. Grief .. Over the last decade I have had some experience that have taught me grief is a constant. I firmly believe that it is our actions which bring us more grief although we humans have this tendency to blame things on others .. It was because of this .. that happened. . Etc etc.
    And you are right the little moment of joy become more joyful because of grief.. It definitely is my best friend.:)

    But then making best friends is in our hands we chose that hence my belief that grief is also something we are responsible for. Moreover it makes life spicy if everything is always rosy life would be bland..at least now with the help of my friend grief I get to see the different colours of life :)..

    Gulzaar sahib has said it beautifully. .

    Kaal challa tune
    Aur meri janab dekha
    Maine kaal ko tod ke
    Lamha lamha jeena seekh liya

    Bikram

  17. Hi Bikram,

    Welcome to Emotional Shadows! I agree with you that our own actions too contribute to grief but real grief is much more profound and inexplicable. We cannot escape it despite our best efforts as it befalls unawares and shocks us. Yes, it does teach us to live ‘lama lamha’ but it doesn’t betray us.

    Life is like that…slowly we reconcile to its hues and nuances.

    Thank you for sharing your perspective, it doesn’t seem from your blog that you could be having such an understanding and mature views. 🙂

  18. What a post, Balroop – apologies for this late comment. I have had my own experiences and grief over the loss of a marriage. It was the life changing event of my life and I once thought that it would take time for grief to thaw. It has taken a long time to come to terms with it and it has seemed like slow motion. I now realize that I couldn’t just wallow in grief and hope it would go away. Grief recovery is an active process that for me, included forgiveness, apologies, gratitude, reflection, and more. I’m happy to say that I’m towards the end of grief. I’m looking forward to transforming my relationship with grief. I love the depth and intricacy of each of your posts – each more deeper and raw than your previous piece.

    1. Hi Vishnu,

      Thanks for a double gift of your wisdom this time. Yes, when the grief is fresh and simmering, it is very difficult to accept it. Words like forgiveness and reflection seem to be hollow. It is only when we learn to live with this monster that we come to terms with its friendship.

      I don’t think we can ever say we are done with grief…we can embrace it and it agrees to sit coiled in one corner. It may even condescend to walk behind us when we we choose to walk with happiness but it is more like our shadow.
      Thanks for your words of appreciation.

  19. The idea of befriending grief is a golden one; and I do think it is the only way we can make it through life at times (especially, as you mention for children who are barely prepared for what the world can throw their way). For it is true, “grief is an incessant stream that flows into our life time and again” so we need to develop a consistent way to deal with it…befriending it seems it can tame its effect on us emotionally.

    1. Yes Randall, that is the only way, a time-tested way and most effective because friends take in every emotion…they are by our side if they are true friends and so befriending grief is a great accomplishment.
      Thanks for understanding the emotion behind this story of grief – my real friend! It has understood me more than I could and has been my loving mentor.

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