When Sasha* died of glioblastoma, she was only 16. Her mother’s grief was unfathomable. Emotions at losing young people can be extremely difficult, especially as their death is so untimely.
Grief becomes more complicated when grieving periods are long and obtrusive. It takes away the sheen of a person. However, on the other hand, grief’s most profound gift can be the possibility of deep love.
We as human beings erect ‘bamboo barriers’ around us when we grieve. We crave for isolation, and yet this tendency prolongs our grieving period.
More often than not, sharing our grief helps us overcome it. The ‘closet’ approach will not work if we have to live with our grief. Chronic depression, withdrawal, anxiety, restlessness and other problems are the result of extreme grief. To overcome these we need a constructive approach.
Grief clinics are an important space to address grief in a systematic manner. Each experience of grief is unique and personal, hence a tailor-made treatment is the best approach.
Around the time of Sasha’ death, mother experienced a variety of upheavals in her personal life. She was on a verge of divorce. The guilt of losing a child during this trying circumstance coupled with the anger and bitterness of her impending divorce left her an emotional wreck.
Bereavement counseling played a very important part in her palliative care. Although it was a long-drawn process, bereavement counseling helped Sasha’s mom in a big way.
Sharing memories and stories of her child, remembering and acknowledging her birthdays and special events in her life, and encouraging her to talk about Sasha’s childhood were few techniques to get her out of her deep distress. Sharing her concerns with the bereavement team did reduce her sense of isolation and loneliness which normally comes with grief.
There is no right methodology to grief. We need to accept it as a natural part of life. The book, ‘Good Grief’ by Carol Lee states: “If we are surrounded by family and friends, we have a better chance of surviving grief than if we are friendless and without close human comfort.”
Cipla Palliative Care and Training Centre offers palliative care, including bereavement care, in Pune, India. Find out more about the organisation on their website.
*Name change to protect identity