A man talks to me with great sadness and the bitterness of loss dominates his conversation, during which he breaks down in tears over and over again. Sadly his wife passed away a few months ago and he had been in mourning since then. He said it was the worst three months of my life and his depression was still continuing. How long would this last? I still expected her to come out of her room every day.
In fact you might think along with me that after nearly half a century of married life, a few months ago he had not only lost the person he loved, but everything that happened with his marriage, such as the emotional bonding, shared jokes and memories!
Unfortunately, those who continue to live after losing a husband or wife must accept the reality and address the issue themselves. They might say: “I must overcome this now. I don’t know why am I still crying often, despite all these years have passed. How can there be an end to our relationship after being together so many years?”
On the other hand, some people even say that whoever has suffered this bitter loss, may want to end the pain. They may seek help saying, “Help me not to feel this sadness that squeezes my heart and this constant depression.” I would like to remind them here that you cannot suppress feelings without ignoring other feelings. When you want to suppress pain, you will also suppress joy.
Here, we definitely need to remind such persons of the need to have patience, reckoning and satisfaction by accepting the will of God. Yet, sometimes in our pain, we are convinced that the torment or grief of the loss will last forever. Whatever it is, even with a heavy loss we all have some kind of psychological immune system. Just as the physiological immune system helps our bodies recover from a physical attack, so our brains help us withstand any psychological attack. A number of studies have found that in responding to difficult life events — from the destructive ones, such as the loss of a loved one, to the difficult ones, such as divorce and illness for instance — people do better than they expected! They think they will never laugh again, but they do. And they think that they will never love again, but they love, and even dance at weddings again. And their daily lives return after a period of time.
Of course, in the memory of that person there will always be pain. Not only that, the presence of a fleeting memory may drown him in temporary despair and this is a fact because we are human beings. But the most important thing is that whoever has lost a loved one should do something about his loneliness. Communication and connecting with people, for example, is an effective way to fill such a void.
Undoubtedly, for the above mentioned husband, the absence of his wife left a great void for him. He has to create moments of communication, whether by visiting a neighbour or sharing a meal with a friend or his children, as well as communicating with a psychologist. He can also focus on doing things that make him feel personally satisfying or meaningful, so that he will gradually begin to bridge that gap.
Grief and the memories about the deceased will be continue. However, by engaging little by little in various activities the husband will be able to carry on with his life. He will never stop missing his wife, but as we are all aware, communicating with the living will give him relief, which is why he spoke about his grief. Perhaps he had taken his first step forward and relieved his long grief without realising it!
Dr Yousuf Ali al Mulla, MD, Ministry of Health,
is a medical innovator and educator. For any queries regarding the content of the column he can be contacted at: email@example.com
Dr Yousuf Ali al Mulla