When a loved one dies

November 2, 2006

In our hearts, we all know that death is a part of life. In fact, death gives meaning to our existence because it reminds us how precious life is. The loss of a loved one is life’s most stressful event and can cause a major emotional crisis. After the death of someone you love, you experience bereavement, which literally means “to be deprived by death.”

In the Bhagavad Geetha it is said, “As a man discards his old clothes and puts on new ones, so does the soul discard this physical body and take on a new body.”

When a death takes place, you may experience a wide range of emotions, even when the death is expected. Many people feel an initial stage of numbness after first learning of a death, but there is no real order to the grieving process.

When I lost my father, I was ten. I experienced a feeling of denial, confusion, sadness, shock and anger. When my mother passed away a decade later, I experienced a feeling of disbelief, yearning, despair and guilt. It took me a lot of time to fully absorb the impact of my mother’s death. Although I never stopped missing my parents, the pain eased after time and allowed me to go on with my life.

It is not easy to cope after a loved one dies. You will mourn and grieve.  Mourning is the natural process you go through to accept a major loss. Mourning may include religious traditions honouring the dead or gathering with friends and family to share your loss. Mourning is personal and may last months or years.

Grieving is the outward expression of your loss. Your grief is likely to be expressed physically, emotionally, and psychologically. For instance, crying is a physical expression, while depression is a psychological expression.

It is very important to allow yourself to express these feelings. Often, death is a subject that is avoided, ignored or denied. At first it may seem helpful to separate yourself from the pain, but you cannot avoid grieving forever. Someday those feelings will need to be resolved or they may cause physical or emotional illness.

Bereavement is a powerful, life-changing experience that most people find overwhelming the first time. Although grief is a natural process of human life, most of us are not inherently able to manage it alone. At the same time, others are often unable to provide aid or insight because of discomfort with the situation and the desire to avoid making things worse.

Tears and anger are an important part of the healing process. Grief is not a sign of weakness. It is the result of a strong relationship and deserves the honour of strong emotion. When supporting someone in their grief the most important thing is to simply listen. Grief is a very confusing process, expressions of logic are lost on the griever. It is important to assist your friend down the path of healing. They will find their own way down that path, but they need a helping hand, an assurance that they are not entirely alone on their journey. The smallest good deed is better than the grandest good intention.

[My friend lost her father yesterday. May the departed soul rest in peace and may the family find strength and courage to cope with this grave tragedy.]

26 Responses to “When a loved one dies”

  1. shark Says:

    Hmmm that’s some deep thought on death!
    I am sorry that you lost your parents at such a young age😦

    Death is the ONLY certainity in our life. Yet we try to run away from it as much as possible. Life (birth) and Death are not in our hands, but the journey between them is definitely in our hands and it’s left to us to make it worthwhile.

    As you rightly said, the grief of losing a loved one is immense. I don’t think it ever goes away… it’s just that after some time we learn to live with it..hence it feels as though the pain has reduced.

    May your friend’s father rest in peace! God Bless!

  2. Srik Says:

    “Huttu saavu yeradau mettu jeeva natana aatake
    Jeevanavidu naatyaranga Bhavanegala maatake”

    Those DVG’s words spell perfectly on what death is..! It certainly leaves a void in every living being around the deceased.

    Your article is a straight one from heart and explains all the psychology behind it. May your friend’s father’s soul rest in peace!!

    Death is a real de-motivation life can give one’s beloved.

  3. rk Says:

    shark,
    You said Death is the only certainty in life. To quote Benjamin Franklin, “Nothing in life is certain except death and taxes”.
    Thanks you for your prayers.

    srik,
    wonderful words by DVG. thanks for sharing it here.

  4. Vani Says:

    Bellur,

    A Very touching post. I’d like to quote J Shirley’s poem on Death as a comment here. Very apt and befitting the moment.

    DEATH – THE LEVELLER

    – J SHIRLEY

    THE glories of our blood and state
    Are shadows, not substantial things;
    There is no armour against fate;
    Death lays his icy hand on kings:
    Sceptre and crown
    Must tumble down,
    And in the dust be equal made
    With the poor crooked scythe and spade.

    Some men with swords may reap the field,
    And plant fresh laurels where they kill;
    But their strong nerves at last must yield—
    They tame but one another still:
    Early or late
    They stoop to fate,
    And must give up their murmuring breath
    When they, pale captives, creep to death.

    The garlands wither on your brow:
    Then boast no more your mighty deeds;
    Upon Death’s purple altar now
    See where the victor-victim bleeds.
    Your heads must come
    To the cold tomb:
    Only the actions of the just
    Smell sweet, and blossom in their dust.

  5. decemberstud Says:

    RK,

    Your post and shark’s comments remind me of DVG’s kagga :

    ಬದುಕು ಜಟಕಾ ಬಂಡಿ ವಿಧಿ ಅದರ ಸಾಹೇಬ
    ಕುದುರೆ ನೀ ಅವನು ಪೇಳ್ದಂತೆ ಪಯಣಿಗರೊ
    ಮದುವೆಗೋ ಮಸಣಕೋ ಹೋಗೆಂದ ಕಡೆಗೋಡು
    ಪದ ಕುಸಿಯೆ ನೆಲವಿಹುದು ಮಂಕುತಿಮ್ಮ

    You have gone through a lot at a very young and tender age. I hope your freind gets the strength to face tomorrow.

    Your post is very well thought out. But, it completely scared me. I know the inevitable will happen some day, but I don’t know how many of us are ready to accpet it. No, not me.

  6. rk Says:

    vani,
    beautiful poem. thank you very much for quoting it.

    d-stud,
    Kagga’s poems are profound, yet poetic. for the benefit of my readers, here is the rough translation of DVG’s lines from Mankuthimmana Kagga (Song of Mankuthimma):

    Life is a Horse driven cart, Fate its driver
    You’re the horse, Passengers – as allotted by God
    Sometimes rides a bride, sometimes a corpse
    When stumbled, there’s always the earth – says Manku Thimma.

    true, not most want to die. and the funniest part is that not many of us want to think that we will have to pack up one day and leave this world. and we sympathise when someone loses a father, mother, spouse or a dear one… as if we are here permanently!!😉

  7. Lakshmi Says:

    Bellur,

    I went to flash back after reading your post and news of sad demise of Veena’s father. I started re-collecting the same situation in my life – loosing loving father in August 2005. I was charged with emotion and tear started rolling. I was shocked when doctor declared ‘he is rested’. My father was known as the strongest person in the family with good health. I could not believe my ears. I was dumb struck. Necessity of that hour was a shoulder to cry on. Fortunately my better-half was with me to sail me thro’ that situation. I had to restrict my feelings as I had the responsibility to inform my mother who was anxiously waiting at home. She had two persons in her world – my father and me. Now, she has left with only one. I found tough for having no sibling to share the same intensity of feeling. I didn’t want to over burden my mother with my share of feelings too. However, close-knit family circle kept us moving.

    Coping with absence of jeevansathi for 40 years is not easy task for my mother. I really appreciate my mother’s will-power. She wanted to get going only for me and for my son. She could manage herself many things on her own which she never did before. I was always there for her help. She managed to stay alone at her home. Now my little daughter has brought a smile on lips again….

    I express my heartfelt condolences to Veena and her family members. I am deeply concerned and distressed. I pray God for departed soul to rest in peace and for all family members well-being.

    Veena, pls take care of your mother.

  8. rk Says:

    Lakshmi,
    Felt really sad after reading about your father’s demise last year. Women have the grit and determination to go on after such setbacks in life. Thanks for your prayers and concern.
    Take care and best wishes to your kids

  9. Vijay Says:

    I spent a day thinking for an appropriate comment for this. I cant. What you have gone through is incredible and it has made you someone that can show empathy.

  10. praneshachar Says:

    Bellur or Rk

    very touching article on death of loved ones. optly timed with the death of veena’s father. hats off to your analysis with life and quote from gita. gita is powerful tool which gives everyone
    solace to all the occassions. it is a master peice.

    As you said women will have lot of grit. I was very much worried about my mother who was 77 when my father passed away at the age of 87 in the year 1999 but to myl surprise she was very composed and perhaps was prepared for the eventuality. at the age of 87 she keeps herself busy reading (fortnately she is able to both read and write even
    though she got married at the age of 13 or so.) she taken care of her medicines very prompt in taking them no body need to remind. she tremembers medicines in her own way
    as english to not known she wil identify them witj colour or something which she and all of can also understand. today she stays with my brother and SIL in Hospet. when she was critical last year she came here and with good treatment at our co., Hospital and her will power recovered fully and returned after spendig about 4 months with us and enjoying
    the co., of grandchildren.

    I have got a elder sister who has studied upto 7th std., and
    highly committed and a devotee of rayaru course our family too is l ike that. she went to USA to stay with her son and was there for 9 months. she is very good letter writer and
    she wrote some letter and sent to us with some photos but may be seeing the bulkness of the letters postman or someone must have opened thinking they may get something out of it.
    as letters did’t reach us she was very much disppointed and my BIL/FIL ( my sister is also my MIL) told her to write in a book and we will read when she returns otherwise she will
    feel very bad if she looses all the letters written. she ;is such good writer after her return we published the writing in a bool form a travelogue pravasa kathan avaniya apsare amerike. thanks to help given by mellepuram venkatesh (who headed kannda pustaka pradhikar and a closey known to my father as he was also a student of shamba joshi) who said this needs to be published as it of high quality.
    book was released by sri.lakkapaowda then kannada university VC book got a award attimabbe prashati from attimabbe trust. she has written lot on dasa sahitya and some are published

    I though I will share this in your blog after seeing your talent and interest in everything on culture kannada etc., etc.,

  11. rk Says:

    vijay,
    i am thankful to god for letting me enjoy the company of friends and mentors like you. and i know there are people who have suffered more than me. so i feel i am not all that unfortunate also.

    praneshachar,
    glad you liked the article. i was amazed to read the story of your Sister cum MIL. and the story of your mother. great souls.
    felt very happy to know about your sister’s writings which won her many accolades and laurels. is she writing even now?
    nanna saashtaanga namaskragalu ibbarigu. haagu thamagu. thanks a lot for sharing it here.
    bhagavantha yellarigu olleyadanna maadali.

  12. Veena Shivanna Says:

    Bellur, that was a thoughtful post & my heartfelt thanks for the kind words all of you.

    My dad was a person who took all decision for the family and directed us for everything. We all felt his absense physically & emotionally. That was a unbearable loss & I was totally confused to take decisions when he was not there with us because he was the person who did that for us.
    My mother is very soft spoken, & she always felt there was no need to do something without my father being present or informed. I pray she copes up early as possible with the grief & start living with the present.

    kaalaya tasmaya namaha… I share the grief of your parents loss & lakshmi’s too. I had understood this 10 years back when we lost out Aunt’s husband & he was no lesser than my father to state.

    May the soul rest in peace.

  13. rk Says:

    veena,
    losing a person who used to take all the major decisions in a family is really difficult. same thing happened with my family. and although it came as a real shocker to my mother, she somehow managed the affairs, just for my sake (i guess). and later, after losing my mother, i had to somehow manage the show. and i was destined to be the youngest pensioner! (before earning salary, i became a pensioner)…..after all isn’t this a pensioner’s paradise!?
    divangatarellara aatmakke shanti doreyali endu praarthisona.

  14. praneshachar Says:

    yellaru savina bagge matuduvaga nanu recent agi nanna colleague obbarige ada tragedy bagge illi heluva anta anistu.
    my colleague and her husband both are CA’s she is working with us and he is practicing. They lost their only son who was studying his BE in MSRIT in a tragic incident. he came out of the house to get some thing from the car, it rained earlier and boy just slipped into a open drain where there were some live wires kept uncovered by some people who have done some work BESCOM or BWSSB and boy’s Hawaii slipper fell and he came into contact with live wire and in faction of seconds he is not there seeing that father of the boy went to pull him he was thrown out and has fractures. both parents were eye witness to this tragic incident of practically live burning. When people went to see only my colleague was in house body of son in mortuary and husband admitted to hospital for his fractures. Is there solace for them whom should be blamed for this? Or we should say it is fate? Why such drastic tragedy will hit a very happy and peaceful family even after 6 months it is very painful to see them.
    Savige habba illa hunnime illa hottu illa gotttu illa, vayassina parive illa, Hennu gandu bheda illa, badava ballida bheda illa

  15. praneshachar Says:

    bellur or rk
    Nimma namaskaragalige dhanyavadagalu
    nanna akka innu bariyuthare. mostly dasa sahitya da taraha
    allade avarige kelavusare pravasa madida bagge saha barithare in poetry form. pravasa kathana on US only in gaddya.

  16. rk Says:

    praneshachar
    really sad to hear about the incident. hope the father of the boy has recovered. but as they say, physical injuries can heal, not the mental agony and psychological pain.
    i pray god to give your colleague and her husband the strength to live through this trauma.
    the last line of your comment says it all. (i have added a few more lines to it…..hope you don’t mind)
    Saavige…
    Habba illa hunnime illa
    Hottu illa gottu illa
    Vayassina parive illa
    Hennu gandu bheda illa
    Badava ballidanembudilla
    Olleyavaru kettavaru annodilla
    Devralli nambike ideyo illavo nodalla
    Malagidharo yeddhidharo nodalla
    Samaya bandaga
    Jaaga khaali maadisade bidalla!

    **********
    sir,
    nimma akkana bagge keli bahala bahalane santhosha aaythu. nammaneli ninne nimma akkana bagge heltha idde. thumba khushi aaythu yellarigu. khanditha nanna namaskaragalanna thilisi avarige. avara pusthakagalu yelli sigatte thilisi sir….kondu odhthivi. mattomme nimma anisikegalanna nammodane hanchikondaddakkagi ananthanantha vandanegalu. heege bheti maadtha iri. nimma anisiskegalanna abhiprayagalanna nammodane hanchikoltha iri.

  17. praneshachar Says:

    RK

    akkana bagge nivu torisida abhimanakke navu chirrunigalu.
    akka mundina vara illigi barabahudu. nivella nimma family and blog friends namma nanege banni avara bheti agutte jothege nanna bheti saha. plan madidare tilisi pustak alle tegedukolli nodi nimma anukula hege antha

  18. rk Says:

    sir,
    nimma aamantranakke bahala vandanegalu.
    nimma akka mattu nimmanna noduvudakke nammellarigu bahala abhilashe ide. suvarna karnatakada ee susandhrbhadalli nimmagala bheti aadare adhu namma punya. nimma akka bandha mele thilisi….ondhu yojane haakona. namage baralu thondare illa, aadare nimage thondare aagabahudu….

  19. praneshachar Says:

    namage yenu tondreilla bandga inn sudhirgavagi matodona
    akka banda nanthra tilisuve avara programme nodikondu
    nijavagalu i blogninda bahala olleyadu agata ide alva
    bahala bahal khushi agta ide banni bheti madona tappde

  20. rk Says:

    khanditha barthivi sir. neevu ishtu abhimaanadinda kareyodhu heccho naavu barodu heccho. mundhina vaara kaaryakrama thilisi.🙂

  21. praneshachar Says:

    savige……
    habba illa hunnime illa chennagi kavana mugisiddiri abhinandanegalu
    btb myt colleagues husband has fully recovered but both of them have lost total interest in life. only time is the helaer.
    I think now they must think of doing something in memory of their beloved son may be helping some needy poor students with help whatever they feel or endowments or even a trust in his memory…….. I dont know what are their plans let us wait and see

  22. rk Says:

    sir,
    relieved to hear that your colleague’s husband has recovered. as you have said, time is the healer. ‘kaalaaya thasmai namaha’.

  23. Diya Says:

    Bellur, a very touching and close to home post for me..

  24. rk Says:

    diya,
    felt like sharing this bit here with you all. another thing is that a person should grieve the loss and then try to move on. of course, everyone grieves in their own way, too. the recovery period can also vary widely. while some people recover in a year, there are those who find the second year to be much worse.

    the loss of my father will always be with me. but what I found that helped me cope with my father’s untimely death was to remember the good times we shared. the funny times that we laughed, etc.

    for those who want to find a good way to deal with their emotions, i would highly suggest some journalizing. writing is very theraputic for a person. keep track of your thoughts and feelings in a journal. then you can come back and read from it if you feel you need to.

    thanks for dropping by.

    best wishes


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: