It is only grief. After all. Picture yourself walking an endless walk, mulling over what was. And hitting a lamp post here, tripping over the grass tufts there, missing the beautiful glow on the baby shuffling around you. All because you are mulling over what was.
Some like to blame it on extra-sensitivity. It is quite a mean thing for a person to say they are more sensitive to emotions than others. All are as sensitive, really. But what makes some smile through the heartache? How are some people able to have room for happiness in their hearts even though there is tremendous grief invading its being? I daresay it is their willingness to accommodate more. There is no way to deal with a loss, physical, emotional or of any other kind. How could you tell the person who’s just lost their son to get on with life? Or what about the woman who has lost her man-forever to another woman? Grief does invade hearts. Most live through it. Some walk the endless walk, the others walk the endless walk with a smile.
A friend who is currently living alone in the big, unforgiving Mumbai is going through a divorce she initiated after 3 years of being thrown around physically, mentally, emotionally by the man she loved. It isn’t easy to sleep the night alone. Though I’ll wager it would be more welcome than having to live with him. But she loved him, you know? And he treated her in a way no one deserves to be. In her own way, she’s getting out of it. Some very impractical issues crop up in her way, though. She’s been doing up her tiny new spartan flat to make it more homey. I called her while she was in the midst of planning the decor of the small living room/dining space. After endless discussions on how to best accommodate both a cozy living area and a dining space without making it too overwhelming, we were exhausted and hung up. In a eureka-like moment later, I sent her some pictures of cute-looking dining tables for two. For two. “Who’s going to use the other chair?” What do I say to her about that? She confesses that besides the anger, there is an endless, relentless agony of being let down. Of loneliness that finds its way under one ruse or the other. However concerned, I cannot do anything. If grief were a tub full of stinky, slimy maggots, I would pull her out of it, regardless. But it isn’t.
Another friend, a good twenty years my senior, was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes as a young girl. Nudging fifty (or nudged it already), she has physical complications relatively healthy people like me will not even have nightmares about. I first met her when she was a newly-wed. My brother Shonu and I loved her to bits. She even had a cuckoo clock. And played Smooth Operator for us whenever we wanted. She showered us with love and affection we never forgot. She’d always known she couldn’t have children of her own. But she’s walking the endless walk with a smile.
There must be grief stories in every heart. Life isn’t so rosy, after all. Losses come and go (or stay forever). People haughty enough to think they can label things label some losses as ‘grief’. Some losses, however, remain unnoticed. Or worse, unsympathised. Like emotional blankets, as if blocking out fresh sea breeze on a sunny day; and making people smile smugly, saying “Must be crazy. Wearing that blanket, I ask you.”
It is alarming how people assume they can generalise the path to a healthy, grief-less life and cater advice. A friend once told me how funny she found shelves full of self-help advice in bookstores on making lives better. There is no way you could understand why I am crying at the loss of my old, worn out sweater, could you?
So how does one find the resilience to tide over the Invasion of the Unhappy Heart-Wrenchers? To each his own, I think. The friend undergoing divorce is getting there, living each day. I just told her today she’s gleaming in her latest picture like she used to. I am sure she grinned with delight at the other end of the phone, knowing she’s getting there. The friend with debilitating diabetes talks and laughs and makes people around her smile. She makes them feel happiness. She probably is the Secret Happiness Generator. Life must be hiding some of these Generators in Her scheme of things. Otherwise we’d be inundated with grieving people.
Grief isn’t to be dealt with. It is to be lived with. With a smile.