My journey to healing : Forgiveness & Gratitude

I’ve stopped counting days since dad passed away. It doesn’t matter anymore because I know no matter what I will always miss him – like when I’m cooking, I think of him calling me up and asking me what I have cooked for the day or when I’m watching the news, I think of what dad’s opinion would be on the news or when I’m walking down the street and I witness something that I’m sure would make dad laugh. I’m just grateful there are people I can share those memories with -my husband, my children and my sister and we can laugh at the good times despite the pain.

Putting things into perspective : I did not write or pick calls over the last few days. I needed time to think it all out, put down what had happened in a chronological order so I could make sense of it. It helped me – to put it all down – the good times- the bad times- the calls- what happened between the doctor saying he could be discharged and him not making it home. It had all happened so suddenly. Writing it helped clear my brain.

Going for a walk Yesterday I went for a run at the break of dawn for the first time after dad. Getting past the stage of blaming – myself, God, others and the situation wouldn’t have been easy if not for my sister. The silence of the morning helped me see past my pain.

Blaming Others

I had blamed God for dad’s decision to go to the diabetes camp in May 2018.One of the main reasons for me leaving my job and coming to the country was because I looked forward to being with dad. I had it all planned- dad and me exploring Mumbai when the kids were at school and my husband was at work. But God had other plans. The day I landed in the country dad took ill for the first time and was admitted to the ICU. A month before that he had gone for a diabetes camp and he had changed his entire eating habits. He wanted to get rid of the one tablet that he needed to take for diabetes. The ICU episode caused as a result of his new eating habits and lack of essential nutrients, ended up in him having to take several tablets. He wasn’t the same person anymore. He was constantly worried about him losing weight. It wasn’t easy being dad’s caretaker for he was physically weak but was strong-willed and independent minded. We spent a year and a half visiting doctors who simply could find no reason for him losing weight.

I blamed the situation. Dad left to the senior home in July 2019 as we were travelling on holiday. He did not wish to stay back at home with a maid and a caretaker. He wanted a place where there’d be people. He liked it in Bangalore where he moved because of the weather, the language and the fact that there were people constantly watching over him. Dad was set to return in July 2020 after the children’s board exams (he had not wanted to be stressed out during both the girls’ exams), but the lockdown happened. And it carried on endlessly. It frustrated him that we couldn’t visit him. We talked about it and I asked him to hold on a little longer until it was safe to travel for him. Unfortunately it did not happen.

I felt betrayed by a friend of mine who did not have the time to return my call when dad was hospitalized a month ago. I knew in my heart it wasn’t her fault and yet… I guess it was easier to blame someone than accept what had happened. It was her house that dad and I had visited just before the lockdown was enforced on March 18th in Bangalore. We – dad, she, my daughter and I had gone shopping together to buy things for dad. We had had a good time. I blamed her for not caring enough to call back even when I messaged her that dad was hospitalized. I could not bring myself to speak to her for days after it happened though I was grateful for a wonderful afternoon spent at her home with dad and her sweet son. Two days ago we spoke. She said she was sorry – that she hated the fact she couldn’t be there for me or for him. She didn’t have to. She’s been going through a bad patch in her life herself. I’m glad we spoke. It reduced the baggage I had been carrying and I got my friend back. It does not make sense to lose the people who love you and who care for you because of the pain you carry in your heart for those who’ve gone.

I blamed myself. I felt maybe I had fallen short. My younger sister helped me see through it – reminding me of the good times and telling me that there was nothing that I or anybody else could do to change what happened. There will always be some regret when you lose someone. No matter what you do, you will always feel that there could be something more that you could have been done. There will always be pain even if you know the person is in a better place. But that’s life. Life is not the last one year or two before one passes away. It’s all the years that one lived – a million different moments. If a majority of such moments are worth celebrating or bring a smile to your lips, then that’s what you need to remember. I tell myself that. So, every time I feel myself spiral downwards, I remind myself of the good times.

With dad- the good times

My anger and resentment has changed to gratitude for all that was and has been.

I feel grateful that dad did not suffer. He was as alert as ever until the end. And when the end came, it was like the lights were turned off and he went to sleep. He had no pain except for a little which is why he went to the hospital. The pain-killers helped him with it. During the last few months, dad was worried that he might get paralyzed because of insufficient blood supply to his brain. He was worried that the severe constipation was the result of cancer in his intestine or colon. None of it happened and I am thankful for that. I am grateful dad did not get corona or else we would not have been allowed to get near him. Despite visiting the hospital several times, despite his age, his diabetes, corona did not touch him.

I feel grateful for family who’s been with me through this. I have repeated the same things over and over again over the last twenty days. My children, my husband, my sister have given me a patient ear- not once telling me that they were tired of listening. I am grateful to my extended family for giving me the space and the time to heal for all the holidays we spent as one big family together.

I am grateful to my childhood friend who called me yesterday for the first time since dad passed away. I had told her I needed time. She understood it as childhood friends do. She had been arranging for a full-time nurse for dad to help with taking care of him once I brought him home. It felt good to speak to her about dad.

I am grateful for friends who messaged me cheering me on and sent me positive thoughts through this time. Some new friends who feel like old.

I am grateful for my decision to speak to some and stay away from some. I have done it free of guilt because my only priority during this time has been to heal. Not all people are the same- not even if they mean well – not all know the right thing to say in situations which require sensitive handling- not all touch the right cords. With people like me for whom words matter and can break or make relationships, it’s important to stay away from those who use their words casually. I have selfishly guarded my need for space without thinking of what anybody feels or thinks. It was the only way not to sour relationships.

If you’re going through something that’s hurting you, make ‘YOU’ the priority. Nobody knows what you need other than you. Take care of ‘YOU.’

I am extremely grateful to the bloggers– who reached out to me and shared their own personal experiences. I have met none of these bloggers and yet in these times I have felt a strong connection. A big thank you to Jo, Andrea, Lynn, Robbie, Kamal, GS Subbu, Pragalbha for your wisdom, your kindness and for hearing me out.

P.S. This morning when I woke up and turned to see the sky, the words of the song from Titanic played in my head :

Every night in my dreams
I see you, I feel you
That is how I know you go on

Far across the distance
And spaces between us
You have come to show you go on

Near, far, wherever you are
I believe that the heart does go on

Once more, you open the door
And you’re here in my heart
And my heart will go on and on

I thought of dad and I know this is how it is going to be… All Rights Reserved.

14 responses to “My journey to healing : Forgiveness & Gratitude”

  1. sienablue Avatar

    Another thought occured to me…we thing of grief as moving linearly through stages, but I experienced it more like a spiral that dips and rises. You may be moved to tears years later, but it will happen less often and resolve quickly. Don’t think you are “doing it wrong” if this happens.

    If I have helped you, I am grateful for the opportunity to help.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Smitha V Avatar

      You are right. It happens to me in dips and rises. There are times I feel light, like I have the answers and I understand and then suddenly – out of nowhere my heart feels heavy and I am where I started. I feel guilty talking about it because all I’m doing is repeating myself. Thank you for letting me know it’s ok to be like this. XXX


  2. Mariam Shittu Avatar

    May you find all the strength you need to bear the loss. Losing a parent is hard. Just allow yourself to feel everything and take things one day at a time. I know for certain, that you will be happy again.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Smitha V Avatar

      Thank you dear Mariam for your warm words of encouragement and for your understanding. Your words give me hope and strength.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. sienablue Avatar

    I am glad you are sorting out the maelstrom of emotions. One thing I learned from grief is that God is big enough to hold our anger, like any parent who holds the toddler raging through a tantrum. I had felt that to be angry at God was a sign of weak faith before I had worked through grief.

    Your father looks very much like a warm and loving patriarch in those photos. That is a beautiful montage.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Smitha V Avatar

      Thank you Jo for being there and for being kind and patient. You have no idea how much you have helped me during this time. I am not angry any longer with God. I know I have no right to be because He did give me all that I wanted. I have been praying for years that I should be by my father’s bedside when he breathes his last. God gave me that. I prayed that I should be allowed to be with him when he grows old. I was given that too. I have learnt through this that time waits for no man. It is now or never.
      Dad was a warm person and fun too…it was easy to be with him when he was healthy. He didn’t take growing old and becoming weak very easily. And the absence of palliative care in this part of the world didn’t help.


  4. robbiesinspiration Avatar

    Your post brought tears to my eyes, Smitha. I have not lost someone, but my children have collectively had 30 operations and I have spend days and days in the hospital with guilt, worry and anxiety. You have to work through it yourself and I’m glad you are coming out on the other side where the intense pain will start to heal and eventually be replaced with joyous memories. Hugs to you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Smitha V Avatar

      You remember Robbie why and how I came here. You were part of my journey. So you know how I feel.
      To see your child through 30 surgeries requires immense strength and I can only imagine the pain and the anxiety. I experienced it with my older one. And I know how much of a toll it takes on a parent.
      I am working hard to getting out of where I currently am. I am making a conscious effort. I remind myself that I am a mother too. Thank you Robbie for everything. XXX

      Liked by 2 people

      1. robbiesinspiration Avatar

        My pleasure, Smitha. I do know your story and I understand exactly how you feel. You are a mother and your family needs you. That will give you the strength you need.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Gopalasamudram Subramanian Avatar
    Gopalasamudram Subramanian

    Through this post, you have brought to a closure that period of mourning, having introspected on the meaning of life, understood how to exorcise all that trauma that has haunted you throughout this year. You emerge a more enlightened individual and understood what it is to forgive and be grateful for. Life is a journey, and like you have said in your previous posts ‘It goes on’. I have seen you as a much-changed person in the last few months and for the better. Your writings have reflected that.
    When you expressed your gratefulness to your friends who took you through this trying period, I take the liberty of quoting from my book ‘The Diary of Mrityunjay’ and which you have also read and reviewed –
    “When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.”
    So begins a new chapter in your life. All the best.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Smitha V Avatar

      Thank you for being there for me and using the power of your words to send me hope, healing and courage across the distance. It has meant a lot to me. I hope like you say I come out stronger, kinder and wiser through this. At times, I still feel a force pulling me down. I am fighting it though. Thank you for sharing the passage from your book. I remember reading it and underlining it in your book. But reading it again now feels like the words were written for me. They are my feelings expressed in words…and so beautifully. Now, as a comment, they will be here forever and I can go back to it when I want to. It is exactly how I feel. I couldn’t have said it better. Thank you for it and for your blessings and wishes.


  6. lynnfay73 Avatar

    Hi Smitha,
    I love the pictures! Yes, be grateful he didn’t suffer too long. This Parkinson’s thing is brutal and Dad has been suffering a long time. I am about to get a hospital bed, a lift and bedside commode and get him home on Thurs. (they won’t let us visit and we don’t want him in a rehab place we can’t visit). For our holidays. So I am grateful to have him home, even if I wish he weren’t suffering. I lost my mother suddenly when she was only 64. Of a massive stroke and that was a different shock to my system. You are lucky to have such a close family. It gets better but of course never really leaves. XO

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Smitha V Avatar

      Hi Lynn, I’m so glad you enjoyed seeing the pictures. I understand Parkinson’s is brutal and I think you have immense strength to handle all that you are handling now. I don’t know if I could ever do it. When I promised dad I would be there for him until the end, I had mentally prepared for doing it all. Reading a book by Rohinton Mistry called ‘Family Matters’ strengthened my resolve. But I don’t really know if I would have been able to handle it like you do. May God give you the strength and help you through this.
      It is a blessing to have a family that loves unconditionally and supports and for that I am grateful. I know though the pain is deep-seated and sometimes the heart feels light, sometimes it weighs a ton. I never know how I’m going to feel tomorrow. XOXO


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