picture by my sister, Waliya.
I can’t begin to thank you enough for all the comments received when I shared the story about losing my daddy here last year. My sister and I have received messages from countless people who shared their own stories of loss. Some said they understood the pain, some asked for advice on dealing with their own tragedies. I wanted to share some of the things that gave strength and hope through our grief specially in the first year.
When we go through a tragic time in our life and once the realization has set in, you need some kind of motivation to go on. You need some hope that you’re not alone and that your heart will feel less broken someday. Here are some of the things that helped heal my broken heart a little bit at a time.
‘To Him we belong and to Him is our final return’ just said it all for me. And just reading these words makes it easier every time just like so many other verses from the Quran. They just put it all in perspective. That this life is not all we are striving for and we all must go one day, it’s not such a big surprise is it! As well as knowing that God is all powerful and knows what is in the hearts of people, He knows cruelty, He is more fair than anything else, and the ones that have continuously tried to hurt us after Papa, thinking we are helpless, Allah knows.
Having faith that even when we doubt being able to smile or laugh again, Papa will want us to be happy and that he in in a much better place now iA. Believing that Papa will be proud of us knowing we stood on our feet and stood up for each other through this tragic time.
Believing that this had to happen, the way it happened, and when it happened and we could’ve done nothing to change even a small part of it. There will always be days when you go over it in your head, wishing for things to be different, but reminding yourself every time that it happened the way it was destined to. It breaks your heart a little less knowing that.
Family and Friends
My daughter was the biggest strength for me. And without her, I really don’t think I or my whole family would’ve been able to survive like we did. Babies have no idea of the enormity that has happened, and for them you have to continue to live. Just like you have to go on for the sake of your loved ones. We lost one of us, and it makes the rest of us that much more precious to each other. Anything can happen anytime and our families are our most important asset. With and for each other we slowly started smiling and laughing and finding strength because NO ONE understands this pain the way the four of us do.
I went through a phase where I found it hard to be around some of my friends. My relationship changed with some friends, and I made many new friends. Going through a tragedy is a hard time for your relationships. I had become a different person and my perspective on so many things just changed. I became more sensitive in certain ways. I tried to be around people that made me feel happy and tried to stay away from the ones that didn’t understand my pain or expected me (or I got the feeling that they did) to just laugh and smile and be normal again. In retrospect, I have learned that loss and death is an uncomfortable subject for many people so talking to just anyone about it won’t heal your heart.
I was also lucky to know friends that had experienced loss at some point in their lives and just being around them made me feel better and stronger. I talked about it here once. My network in Seattle helped me in many ways, the playdates, the coffee with friends, the normalcy of life despite it all, even though seemed pointless specially in those early days, made me get back to normal life little by little.
Music/Movies and Books
Songs I had listened to so many times before without feeling anything, made me weep like a crazy woman, because suddenly I felt like I could connect to them. Somewhere in that pain, it felt like I wasn’t alone. So many people go through tragedies and it takes courage to put these into words, in art, in songs, in any kind of creative medium. And that inspired me or made it bittersweet. In some way it made it a little easier to feel the pain. Two favorites became, Without you by David Guetta and Pee Jaun by Farhan Ali Khan.
I read a lot of memoirs during this time, sad books, but all that spoke of hope and living through the challenges and tragedies that touch our lives. Some of my favorite became Two kisses for Maddy, Three weeks with my brother and The rules of inheritance.
I love reading inspiring words and have a collection of inspiring quotes on Good Reads and Pinterest, many of them bittersweet and sad, but inspiring at some level. Many of you follow my sister Waliya’s page on Facebook where she combined many such beautiful sad words with her images to tell her story.
Writing, Art and Creativity
I got back to blogging in April of 2012, less than three months after my dad left. For me it became a place where I could find hope in that pain, share my thoughts and stories. All three of us sisters, have put our dad’s life and the way he left us in words in one way or another. There is catharsis in writing and painting and art and in finding a way to express that pain. Waliya and I found a whole different meaning to our photography. We both chose to share our story with the people that followed our photography on Facebook and are immensely grateful for the love received through there.
For me, another thing that helped was keeping a little journal of my dad’s memories. I find it heartbreaking that my dad wasn’t able to experience being a grandfather, and that Anya will never know him. A friend gave me the idea to write down memories in a journal, and I try to jot down the most random-est of memories of my father. I can tell Anya all these little stories over the years about him, so even if she wont know him, she will know lots about him. And that makes me feel a little better.
Everyone’s recovery through grief is different and these are a few of the many things that have given me hope and strength. You also pass through different stages and each person’s journey is unique. If you have experienced tragedy and are struggling to stand up again, I hope some of this will give you some sort of encouragement.
Thanks for reading.