Guru Purnima – Of Life and the Profundity that is Grief

It is Guru Purnima.  I figured this would be a good time to start writing again.

My last blog post was in Oct 2018. I had taken a break that month for self-care. I did not realize how much more intentional I would need to be in the months to come after that about ensuring that I was taking care of my emotional health.  I did not feel like writing but a few close friends insisted that I must write, especially because I am grieving.

My grandma was sick, really sick. I put on a very brave face most of the time. I hid my tears when I used to visit her at the nursing home. I spoke in terms of hope and recovery because medically, we were told we had hope.

Then 2019 came along. With that came a whole new perspective and a whole new reality. Grandma was not doing better. Her children were coming together to make sense of this new prognosis. It was not easy. I, the chaplain, tried to be one to those I love dearly. The next few months did not get easier.

April 2019 turned out to be a pivotal month. My life changed permanently. A great joy and a great loss on the exact same day was something more than I was prepared to handle.

Being a chaplain to my family as we braced for grandma’s physical demise was something I had not imagined. An incredible strength came through to be there for my family when grandma died. But can we just talk about how much it hurt? My heart broke into a million pieces every time I saw my family grieving.

Grief is overwhelming. It probably is the single most emotion that has power to override any other emotion which a human being can feel. When grieving, the pain of loss is almost physical. It feels as if your heart is hurting – literally. 

A wave of grief overpowers every once in a while. It doesn’t matter where I am  – driving to get groceries or touring a busy street in Central London or just a regular day at work.

My grandma is no longer with us physically. I think of her every day – many times a day. I miss her every day. Having said that, I also remember every day how proud she was of her grandchildren. She took so much pride in every little thing that her grandchildren achieved.

Her loss has pushed me to reflect more on my work as a chaplain. There’s more soul searching I need to do. There’s more reflection need. There is a lot more to write. I am sure, in time, the words will come.

My grandma was a person of deep faith. She was traditional but not orthodox. She loved rituals but also practical insights. Oh and as far as my faith goes, it is intact. Stronger than ever before. My Shivji is right here with me – through the great loss and through the great joy.

On this Guru Purnima, I am grateful for Life as a Guru.

Wishing you all a very Shubh Guru Purnima…
No matter who or what you consider your Guru, may you always be surrounded in Guru Kripa…

Until next time,

Namaste
“I have never said that there is no need for a Guru. All depends on what you call Guru. [S]He need not be in a human form.” – Ramana Maharshi

 

Thank you for sharing…

Chaplaincy has made me more resilient than I used to be – that’s what I think. I used to tear up easily but now, not so much. This should not be misunderstood as if I have become insensitive. I think it is the opposite. I am continually learning to be more present, more attentive, more aware of the feelings (said and unsaid) of those I serve and of course, those who I spend time with. I think it is also because I have learned to find comfort and strength in most cases.

I have tried to keep my thoughts to myself regarding everything around the world. I did not realize how much I was holding in until after the interfaith vigil I attended tonight in honor of those who were murdered by those who hate intentionally. We were walking out of the synagogue when one of the congregants stopped us and said, “Thank you for sharing the burden.”

I could feel my eyes well up with tears and all I could muster to say was, “of course.”

That is ALL I could say. Tears started flowing as we walked to the car. I did not realize how heavy my heart felt. Grief is Grief is Grief.

I am taking this time to thank everyone who has ever listened to me, showed up for me and continues to support me. I also want to thank everyone who goes out of their way to be there for others – no matter who the other is.

Thank you for sharing the burden.

For those who still cannot make up their mind : Show up or Stop talking.

Until next time,

Namaste

“No civilized society can thrive upon victims, whose humanity has been permanently mutilated.” – Rabindranath Tagore 

Freedom To Express Oneself…

There have been such huge gaps in my blog updates – it’s embarrassing. Honestly, the last few months have been a rollercoaster ride. After coming back from vacationing in India, we were thrust right into the routine of our everyday lives. But is there such a thing as routine in the work life of a professional chaplain?

So much has happened in the last few months both at work and personally. There is plenty to reflect upon and each of the major events in the last few months will be shared in future posts. But for now, I am reflecting on the freedom to express oneself. Apt, I reckon, since it is India’s 72nd Independence Day today.

The world of clinical chaplaincy is so fascinating. I’ve been getting to experience what it is like to be the family of a patient due to hospitalizations of a very close family member. It has pushed me more to reflect on how I felt being in a hospital in a state that I am not familiar with and supported by those who I rely on most for strength and comfort.

Does everyone have the freedom to reach out to those who are a source of strength and comfort for them? Is it possible for loved ones to always be there? Is it not gut-wrenchingly difficult to leave a loved one in the hospital overnight? And in some cases, add on a layer of a language barrier. Can you imagine what it feels like to be them?

In a world full of evidence-based outcomes, how do I ‘show’ what it feels like when my loved one is intubated? How do I ‘show’ the sense of freedom that comes with being to express one’s concerns in a language that is understood by both the care-giver and the care-receiver?

So many questions – some rhetorical of course.

Freedom to express – a beautiful thing nevertheless.

Until next time,

Namaste

“If I can’t make it through one door, I’ll go through another door- or i’ll make a door. Something terrific will come no matter how dark the present.” ~Rabindranath Tagore

 

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