A married, young woman named Susan is very close to her mother. So thick is the bond they share that they are like friends. Her father is almost always away making money so that he can provide for his family. Her brother and mother are the only people she gets to spend time with regularly and sees her father once in a while. Fate took a turn for the worse when recently she discovered that her mother’s health had taken a beating, and subsequent diagnoses revealed that she had cancer. A month into having been faced with this harsh reality, her loving mother is in her last stages of the disease. What could possibly be going on through the minds of both her children? They might at any time lose this person who is so precious to them. Envisioning a normal life for them in the near future seems a tad challenging. Will she and her brother ever be able to get over this loss?
Questions such as the ones above rarely have fixed answers. It is challenging to just let go and this is because we tend to connect instances and people in our lives with some sort of an emotion. Emotions as we know, are driven by the nature of the people involved or some past experiences with them. When even the loss of inanimate possessions such as clothes or cars can cause sadness, it’s not a surprise that we feel so strongly about people. Emotions are not only felt but are perceived from others as well. Having said that, with memories filled with love and compassion, it is but obvious that the magnitude of pain, hurt, frustration, anger felt by Susan and her brother will be immeasurable, almost inexplicable.
They are now in the hands of Palliative Care which is a field in medical care that improves the quality of life of patients who are suffering from chronic illnesses such as Alzheimer’s, cancer, Parkinson’s, etc. as well as their family members. Susan and her family sought help from one such centre called Karunashraya in Bangalore, that offers free care to terminally ill cancer patients. These centres adopt a holistic treatment approach wherein not only do they cater to the medical needs of the patient but also provide psychological and spiritual support to the patient and his/her family members.
Dealing with Grief & Loss:
Dealing with the loss of somebody we know can affect us to different extents depending on who they are. This is related to memories or experiences with them. If it is somebody very close to us such as a family member or a good friend, the grief over loss is much deeper than when we lose an acquaintance or a co-worker, when it might come as a jolt and cause brief sadness. Letting go of memories and emotions that remind us of the latter is fairly easier than in the case of the former. Different people have different ways of dealing with grief. Our lives might seem to have come to a standstill but the reality is that they must go on. So, what are some options we have that might help us deal with grief?
- We must try to acknowledge our emotions as this serves as a good release mechanism. For eg. Susan cried to her heart’s content while chatting with her mother’s doctor, at the palliative care centre. The doctor just sat beside her, held her and allowed her to cry. Crying is an example of acknowledging the emotions we might be feeling at the moment such as hurt, pain, anger, etc. All the same, some people like to be alone and connect with themselves in order to come to terms with the occurrence. It’s generally best not to stay confined to yourself for too long. Try talking about it with another person; it might make you feel better. This communication helps vocalize thoughts and contributes to the process of lightening the burden of the innumerable thoughts running through your mind.
- Channelizing our energy spent on questioning circumstances and ill fate towards something more meaningful makes a big difference. For instance, some people choose to immerse themselves in social service to spread awareness on their experiences whereas some others find socializing more, meeting new people and engaging themselves in regular routine activities helps them get past this phase. However, it is evident that we have to get past the acknowledgement stage to get here.Palliative care centres are completely equipped to provide customized care to both the patient and his/her family members through this challenging phase of pain and grief, and also continue to extend support to the family members after the death of the patient.
Only when faced head on with such a situation do we realize the worth of the one we are about to lose or who has passed and also of those who are still alive. We begin pondering over the purpose of life. With the right kind of support from palliative care centres, we can be enabled to gain inner peace and possibly even discern our purpose for this life.
Letting go therefore, does not mean forgetting people and instances per se, but facing realities of life and death, accepting them and learning how to cope with them so as to be able to live a normal life, as would’ve been the wish of those who have passed on.
If you want to know more about Karunashraya, write to firstname.lastname@example.org