There is nothing funny about losing a loved one. The grief is palpable, no matter the show of dignity. I salute the courage of the immediate family in the face of the constant flow of sympathy. Being an observer of words, I tend to focus on the condolence messages that are offered. I often imagine what must be playing out in the minds of the bereaved family through the first few days of mourning as the visitors pour in. It is a time of unbearable confusion and heightened emotion. Each word seems like a whiplash of reminder. The mask stays in place but the mind wanders wilfully.
- “ He is in a better place.” You know that how? Have you visited?
- “ How did it happen? ” There are twenty people standing in queue behind you. I will email you the details later.
- “ He smoked, right? ” Are you his doctor? Or his insurance agent?
4. “ At least he is not suffering now.” I have told myself this a thousand times over and trust me it does not help to hear it once more.
5. “ Was he in a lot of pain at the end? “ I would absolutely love to relive those moments with you. Right here. Right now.
6. “ How have the children taken it? “ Now that you have psychoanalysed my feelings, let’s move on to them.
7. “ I had a cousin who passed away with the same illness. It was horrible.” I know. I was there.
8. “ Has he left a will? ” You certainly are not in it so how does it concern you?
9. “ Are you okay? “ Ya think?
10. “ At least you got time to prepare. “ Prepare for this? Can anyone ever be prepared? Try it.
It is a trial by fire. Losing someone. Everything sounds repetitive, inane or inappropriate. Just keep it simple. Say sorry. A squeeze of the hand. A gentle touch on the shoulder. Let them speak. Or not. Be there. That is all one needs. Trust me.
Alisha “Priti” Kirpalani is the author of a “A Smattering Of Darkness: Short and Shorter Twisted Tales,” a collection of short stories of varying lengths encapsulating the grey shades of the human psyche. Her new novel will be released later this year.