I recently lost my grandmother.
While I have seen deaths in my family before, this was the first time someone very close to me was passing away.
Consequently, this was the first time that I decided to observe the mourning rituals.
So basically, there are two rough ‘rules’ in my community:
- The official mourning period is for 16 days, during which family members cannot attend joyous functions.
- Close family members are not to celebrate festivals in a grand way till the completion of the first anniversary of the death.
While I am totally fine with the second rule, I have a lot of questions about the first.
Deadlines for expressing grief?
Yes, we have to be practical and move on with life, but I wonder who came up with a deadline for us to feel grief.
So we are expected to be sad and homebound for 16 days, after which we can resume like nothing happened?
Of course, to what extent this is observed depends on the individual, but extended family members might judge if they’re not adhered to properly.
Quantifying mourning periods
I personally feel that while I have now moved forward from the initial heavy grief I felt after my grandmother passed away, it is quite insensitive to be told that after 16 days you can continue with normal life.
At the time of losing a loved one, this is the last thing on anyone’s mind.
Also, even if the initial weight of your grief passes, 16 days is still a very short period. I’m not likely to be in a celebratory mood just 2 weeks after my grandmother has passed away!
Don’t apply to close family
I suppose this 16 day rule is best applied to people who weren’t very close to the deceased, but are expected to mourn.
For close relatives, however, it takes much, much longer to get over, even though we can bounce back to practical, daily tasks within a few days.
This again raises the question of why people who aren’t very close are expected to perform a perfunctory, 16-day mourning.
Isn’t it a bit of a farce to put down these rules for someone who may not actually feel so deeply?
It’s like an enforced period, so that others consider you a good person.
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My personal feelings on grieving
One thing I have come to understand is that for close relatives, all that happens is that as you get used to your loss, the sense of loss simply shifts from the foreground to the background.
From being the only thing that occupies your mind during the initial days, it becomes something that comes to mind at random times, or if something specifically reminds you of it.
However, there is no such thing that after 16 days, you snap back to the person you were before the death.
The passing of a close one does have a profound impact, and I can see certain changes in myself from the experience, which I don’t see being reversed anytime soon.
However, with time comes recovery.
As each day passes, while I will always miss my grandmother, I find myself slowly moving towards thinking of her and all our memories together with a smile rather than with sadness.
As human beings, we all have different ways of dealing with grief, and take different amounts of time to move forward.
While one may never ‘get over’ the passing of a close one, we reach a place where we can move forward in life.
And it’s a highly personal thing, so I don’t think there should be any number of days assigned to recover from or deal with such an occurrence.
To each, their own.
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Find the author online at: @samyukthanair_