Phone cradled between my ear and neck, I stirred a creamy concoction of butter, milk and cheese all the while listening to a broken soul on the other end. My chitappa, voice breaking, was trying to make sense of the loss in his life. As I held on even if just in silence I realized I really knew what he was talking about. Since the loss of Appa, death and loss has taken a new meaning in my mind. As I struggled to express my empathy and solidarity with Chitappa I knew a time would come years from now when we will be able to hold on to just the memories without the sadness.
It has taken the loss of Appa for me to realize the importance of vocalizing my support to someone who is grieving. In those awkward years between being a young adult and a grown woman, I often waffled at the thought of expressing condolences. Torn between wanting to be in denial and scared about causing fresh grief, I was often mute. Offering silent stoic support in my mind. Only now do I realize silence often feels like indifference. Like rejection.
Now, speaking from that place of understanding I realize there is a lot more to rituals and tradition surrounding death than is apparent. It offers a way to celebrate the deceased person’s life and a way for the survivors to process their grief.
So, if like me you are on the fence about how to be supportive when someone you know is grieving the loss of a loved one, go ahead, offer solace. Give them a hug or write a letter. Leave a note, talk to them, celebrate a life well lived.