I was 18 when I lost my grandfather. He was on dialysis for four years as he was suffering from Liver Cirrhosis. The last time he was hospitalised, I told him that the doctor said that he will be well and back home soon. I lied. But somewhere in my heart I believed that lie and I knew that he will be alright and back home. Next day afternoon when I got back from school, I howled my way in the car to the hospital. My mother had told me that dadaji (paternal grandfather) is no more. That was the first time I had lost a loved one to death. No body around me knew how to console someone who has lost a loved one to death.
I remember when the ambulance stopped outside my house and my grandfather’s body was carried out and kept on the ground. I cried uncontrollably. At that time, apart from my family members there was no one who stood by me. I had several friends at that time but out of those 15 friends only one turned up! None of my best friends showed up or called to check how I was doing.
Just a couple of days ago, my nani (maternal grandmother) passed away. This time was no different except that I was proud of making friends with people who called and were there for me. One of them even drove me to my nani’s house which is in Meerut (2 hours from Delhi). There were people who followed me on social media and still there wasn’t one person who said anything on seeing my post.
The truth is that many of us don’t know how to console someone who has lost a loved one to death. We know that we will never be able to see that person physically ever again and that is something that hurts the most. All you can do at that time is be there for that person if he or she means something to you. Many of my friends later told me ‘I didn’t know what to say then so I decided not to say anything at all.” Seriously? You probably don’t have to say anything and just listen to the person when they tell you how they feel and help them a little to walk ahead keeping the loved one in their heart.
You can’t do anything about the fact that their loved one is no more. But you can make an effort to talk to the person by visiting them and calling them occasionally to check on them how they are doing. As cliche as this may sound but you could begin by asking what happened? And later you could tell them how death and birth are a part of life and the person has probably completed their life cycle and will soon be reborn only to begin a new life. There are so many things you can talk about or just be quiet and let them talk or just hold them and hug them when they cry.
After a while you could also try taking them out and try to normalise things around them which otherwise they would find difficult to do it themselves. The biggest support that person has at that time is you and seeing you turn your back just because “you don’t know what to say” is the second most hurtful thing (the first one obviously being losing the loved one). So make sure to lend a shoulder to your friend who needs you the most at this hour of grief and don’t disappear on them. After all, isn’t that friendship about?