Death, the dead and our awkward silences.

“I think we forget things if we have no one to tell them to.”

I have seen Lunchbox but I had totally forgotten this piece of gem in it. I came across this recently on twitter again and it stuck me.

It’s so true! It is also one of the biggest fears that I have – that I will forget things just because I don’t talk to anyone about them.

Death and the dead.

My mother passed away 4 years ago. But I never talk about it to anyone. I don’t actually know why but I don’t like talking to people about it. We, as a society, have such a bad and depressing attitude to death that it just feels like we are doing something wrong. Whenever we hear someone lost someone close to them, our first reaction is ‘Oh, I’m sorry’ and there is no further reaction post that. We don’t like to talk about death. We don’t like to talk about the dead. No one does. We just avoid the topic. If someone among my friends ever by mistake bring up my mother or death in any conversation, they suddenly say sorry and change the conversation. I don’t understand it and still, I am a part of this. I don’t like to talk about my mother. I don’t tell about it to anyone. I haven’t told my closest friends about it. I just don’t like the sympathy and awkwardness that comes with it. I think we have a very poor and unclear way of dealing with death. We sympathise for a second and then we are afraid to ever bring it up. Why is that? Is it because the person will start crying? Or is it because you don’t want to remind them of the loss? Why do we avoid talking about the dead? What is the worst that could happen?

Some people do it right, though. I remember when I told my girlfriend about it. We were on our first date and I had no intention of bringing it up. I didn’t want to seem like I was trying to gain sympathy by saying that. (See, this is what I think is wrong with us. Why would it make me feel like ‘sympathy beggar’?) But we somehow landed on the topic. And I didn’t want to lie to her. I really liked her and I didn’t want to screw it up by being dishonest. Plus, I had a feeling she would take it right. So I told her. I told her how much I loved my mother and how much it hurt to have lost her. I told her how pathetically lost I have been since her; how she was everything to me and how loss of the most important person affects you. I remember when I started saying that to her, she held my hand throughout. When I was done telling her everything, I had tears in my eyes and I remember she hugged me and kissed me on the cheek. I am not saying every girl should kiss me when I tell them I have lost my mother but am I wrong to say we seriously lack compassion? What she did felt good. To tell someone your worst loss and have them understand and respond in an appropriate way, feels good.

This has been one of the worst thing to happen to me. I don’t know if anything will top this. Death and loss is difficult to deal with. And with the mentality that we have in our society, it just gets tougher and tougher. I don’t know why I hide it from everyone but I would like to stop doing that. Only if people stopped looking at me with sympathy and had a little more compassion, it would be easier. I have never blogged about this either. I have never posted about this on facebook or twitter. I don’t like to publicise that I am an orphan (with a father). I don’t like to be reminded of that. But I have this constant fear that I will forget details about her as I don’t talk to anyone about her. I don’t want to do that.

So here I am, talking about my mother who I lost a little over 4 years ago. I loved her. She taught me everything – from being patient, understanding, compassionate, loving to being smart, passionate and human. ‘Never shout at your brother and sister when they do something wrong,’ she used to tell me. ‘The whole world will criticize and blame them when they make a mistake. This is the time when they need you the most.’ I have tried to live up to it. ‘Always put family first. They matter the most no matter what they are and how they behave, family is all we have got.’ I remember this and try to live by it in life’s most mundane activities like making sure that my uncle(who is divorced and a loner) is not being left alone when we go to attend weddings because she used to make sure of that. I try to do things that she did and live by her principles and lessons.

I see my sister taking care of the family and I think of my mother. I think of how proud she would be of her. The way my sister takes care of everyone, talks to everyone in the family, makes them understand each others point, tries to sort out the fights that we all keep having – I think of how my mother should have been alive to see her grow into a woman. My mother worried so much about her, I wish she could see how much of her is left behind in my sister.

I see my little brother taking care of my granny and I think of my mother. I think of how happy she would have been to see him be so responsible and grown up even though he is just 15. I think of how much she is missing. I see my brother respecting other girls in his class; I see him do good in school; when his school teachers tell me he can do better in study, it doesn’t bother me but I am the proudest person when they tell me he is the most sincere, respectful and decent student in the class. I take pride in the fact that my mother’s values are not lost. She is the one who inculcated all the habits in him. She is the one who taught him compassion, love, empathy, respect and standing up for those who can’t do it for themselves. And she would have been so proud to see him grow into those and much more.

I miss how my mother will never be able to see how she moulded our lives. I sometimes feel sorry that she will never know how much we loved her. I miss that I will never be able to tell her that again. I miss that I will never be able to hug her and feel safe and comfort again. I miss that no one will ever believe in me and understand and love me the way she did.

People die, alright. But we don’t have to forget them. We don’t have to not talk about them. We don’t have to be afraid to shed a few tears in their memory. I wish we were not so awkward about death and the dead. I am now ashamed that I have never spoken about her to many people. And I fear I will forget her. I don’t want to forget her. I want to remember all I can about her. And the best way to remember is to keep talking, right?

I love my mother. And I miss her.

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