Dealing with Grief

It’s been a long time since I’ve blogged what I feel.

I’ve been dealing with grief for almost 2 years, why I say so is because it just started 2 years ago and has just been increasing.

Two years ago, an aunt passed away after progressively losing her muscle activity. I last saw her when she was wheelchair-bound, and could eat, talk and move her upper body. Towards the end of her life, she could only blink to communicate via an alphabet communication system.

An uncle, whom I remember as jovial, full of life and energy, had cancer and ended up in ICU for more than a month before he passed away. I visited him a few weeks before he left, and felt so sad seeing him suffering. He really wanted to recover I felt, but his body just couldn’t sustain.

A distant great grandaunt passed away a few months after. I remember her having white hair since I was young, and she was kind and welcoming.

A granduncle whom I last saw on New Year’s Day 2020, passed away shortly after. At our family reunion, he was singing, having a good time with family, and all was as usual. But after a few weeks stay in hospital, he left, and we couldn’t hold a wake.

Covid-19 struck us hard, with some kind of Phase making our lives dingdong back and forth, while I couldn’t travel to see my relatives overseas (although I may seem aloof at times, I really really treasure family).

At the end of July, double tragedy struck. An uncle (the husband of my bedridden aunt) suddenly passed away after a heart attack on the same day. A day later, my grandmother-in-law passed away after being bedridden in hospital for a week.

I attended two funerals, one virtually, one physically, on the same day. There was a period of time where being stationed at my grandmother-in-law’s wake, I tuned into the virtual funeral service for my uncle, grieving virtually for one, while awaiting funeral prep for another in person.

August began. But more deaths followed.

A mother-in-law of an aunt, and mothers of friends and acquaintances passed away.

This week, a granduncle passed away suddenly after falling off his bike. My extended family just completed the funeral and placing the ashes at the niche.

In 2 weeks, four relatives passed away.

Death just keeps getting closer.

Oftentimes there are nights where I cry before I sleep. Or think about life, death, and all that’s in between.

Google how to grieve, what we cannot do during mourning period, books to read on grieving.

Strangely, maybe my subconscious knew something was gonna happen. In July, I signed up for a Buddhist talk on dying, and a self-care talk on managing grief (the latter was postponed due to Phase 2 Heightened Alert).

I’ve withdrawn from as much as I could.

Reduced social postings, doing what I really need to do at work (with no capacity for anything extra), and just keeping really quiet.

I don’t see the point of being so busy, and chasing simi rat race.

My younger boy has been obsessing over my death for a year, having a second bout of separation anxiety in case I die.

With all that’s going on, it’s quite difficult to do anything beyond just surviving day by day.

Being an introvert, I don’t really say much to anyone else what I think. Too complex, too difficult to elaborate in a few sentences, the myriad bursts of thoughts and emotions that manifest.

It’s also tiring to have to explain what’s going on in my head.

I wish, I could do less. Do what’s necessary and meaningful. Do what’s useful and impactful.

Not do for the sake of doing. Busyness is not productivity.

Separately, following my husband (who’s gone full-blown vegetarian overnight since his grandmother was taken ill), I’m slowly cutting down on meat. I don’t feel so angry. But I do have bouts of anger and impatience still, especially during the PMS stages of my monthly cycle.

Today I borrowed some books from the library written by Thich Nhat Hanh, and started reading the book on Work. One of its recommendations is to recite gathas, or short poems, during certain activities to practise mindfulness. So now I have a few handwritten gathas stuck at various parts of my home, including my laptop which is a source of income, and also mindless stress when I go overboard working without a break.

I still feel stuck often. Stuck because I don’t know if I’m on the right path. I don’t know if I just wanna stay where I am in my career, or what. Stuck because I’m scared of disappointing people if I can’t do what they think I’m capable of, because I just don’t have it or I can’t deliver for some reason. Stuck because it’s so shallow to talk about these sorts of things when others are going through much worse periods.

Stuck because I feel judged the minute I even give an opinion or say a little something about my story or thoughts.

I guess tonight is a small breakthrough, that I’m even typing out what I feel when most of the time I don’t even say or type to anyone.

Thank you blog, for being here for me, the same way you were here for me back in 2015, when I felt lonely and lost, and sad and stuck.

I’ll come visit you again, when I can.

One Comment

  1. Steven says:

    Over the years, I have shared this stanza with friends who lost loved ones. And over 22 months ago, in Oct 2019, I lost my wife to cancer – and the piece comforted me. I wish to share with you Julia and to your readers:
    “What though the radiance which was once so bright
    Be now for ever taken from my sight,
    Though nothing can bring back the hour
    Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower;
    We will grieve not, rather find
    Strength in what remains behind” ~ Wordsworth

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