As humans, we all need the comfort of people from time to time. Often, it’s not just those we always confide in but also the people in the background; the people we smile and nod to at family gatherings, the people who accompany us during vacations. We seemingly disregard them because on the surface, we don’t need them; they aren’t the people we celebrate our achieved goals with or those we unburden ourselves to. No, they’re simply just there. Through the good and the bad. They’re always just there and it provides us with a sort of unspoken security to remind ourselves of that. But what happens when they aren’t there anymore?
Grief in itself is a complicated concept to come to terms with especially since it’s disturbing to think that someone’s complete life history can be reduced to a package of memories within a split second. Nevertheless, it is difficult to confront complex emotions forming over the loss of a loved one to whom you were never close to. Perhaps, you had held onto the hope of forming a relationship with that person and now they’ve died, you’re grieving the loss of a bond you could have had; the longing for what could have been.
‘I’ve got some important exams this week so I’ll be sure to call the hospital and check up on him in a few days.’
Then we’re left helpless; standing in silence at their funeral, with the final lingering thought being, ‘I could have done more.’
I was awoken by the cries of my mum. To some extent, I already knew why but I didn’t say anything. I didn’t even know what to think. I just lay in my bed, staring at my ceiling. But I still can’t register what exactly his last words to me were. He was in pain. I could feel his voice shaking as he talked to me through the phone. It took me back to the moments where he’d sit under the comfort of the same bristly chair, amused by the actions of counterparts in black and white movies. He’d sit there day in and day out, occasionally checking the lottery results. We didn’t always talk but when he knew I’d be around, he’d boil broccoli and leave several out on the table for me.
I’m struggling to find the words to describe him. I never really understood him and I’m not sure if I ever will. Yet he will always remain a wonderful man to me, my granddad.
Grief and guilt, love and loss; they’re all feelings. Feelings need to be validated and although it will be hard, we need to find ways to accept and move forward with these feelings. You need to acknowledge that it is completely natural to feel grief for not only those closest to us but also those we wish we could have been closer to. After all, we are only humans yearning for love.
R.I.P. Ponnampalam Sellaiah, 1953-2021
Emotional support, information and guidance for people affected by mental illness, their families and carers.
Textcare: comfort and care via text message, sent when the person needs it most: www.sane.org.uk/textcare
Peer support forum: www.sane.org.uk/supportforum
Promotes the views and needs of people with mental health problems.
Phone: 0300 123 3393 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm)
CALM is the Campaign Against Living Miserably. A charity providing a mental health helpline and webchat.
Phone: 0800 58 58 58 (daily, 5pm to midnight)