When we are diagnosed with a horrible disease, our first reaction is, “Oh my God, why me?” Similar is the reaction when one gets a sad news about a terrible accident or the death of a dear one. One does not want to believe what the doctor says or what is conveyed about the accident or the loss. Different people have different reactions to various types of loss. It may be a material loss or it may be the loss of people whom they love. But shock, anger and emotional pain are natural responses of human beings. It is followed by a slow process of acceptance of the loss.
One may get hurt even at a minor issue like a dear one not answering the phone call and may take it as a loss of sorts. It may shock a person who finds it hard to believe that the call has not been taken by one with whom he had very close relationship. Similarly, when you ask for help from someone who you thought could never say no to you and you get a negative response, you get a terrible shock.
Of course, when you lose a dear one, the intensity of the shock is much greater. All types of partings and separations shock and hurt you, though the intensity may be different. But over a period of time acceptance sets in and the person comes to terms with the loss, however big it may be. How much time it takes to move from the shock stage to the acceptance stage depends on many factors like the state of mind when the news of a loss is received, the quality of relationship and your personality traits like experience and maturity, etc.
Acceptance of loss is a very difficult process, since it is the process of overcoming the shock, pain, sadness, tears and misery generated by the loss. Learning to mourn and accept the loss can help one live with confidence without feeling of any guilt. The response to any loss is natural and one does not have to deny the anger and pain associated with it.
As the years pass by we have to say goodbye to our friends, relatives and other dear ones. We have been bidding goodbyes to our friends when we moved from one station to another. On every such change or permanent loss, some kind of vacuum is created and we go through emotional turmoil but manage it after accepting the inevitable. When it is our turn to say the final goodbye and take the last step into oblivion, though one becomes calm, serene, philosophical and full of wisdom, yet the acceptance takes relatively more time.
Recently, when we lost a neighbour, his wife sons, daughter and grandchildren decided to have the ‘kirya’ on the third day of his breathing the last. When my grandfather passed away, the bhog was arranged after 17 days (staranvi). When my father left us, the formal mourning was for 13 days (tehravin) as advised by the religious preacher and senior relatives, though my mother and all brothers and sisters wanted it on the Sunday following his death. I believe you don’t love a person more if you mourn for a period longer than necessary. Grieving is a private affair and can be done in its own time without denying the reality that pain hurts. But overcoming the grief, accepting it and moving on must become another reality.
As a die-hard optimist, I feel that positive thinking is perfectly alright at a time when tragedies strike as long as it does not push you to believe in miracles. Common sense suggests that one should think positive, hope for the best but must be prepared for the worst.