Recently, a relative passed away. Someone I’m extremely fond of. I had completed my Suhoor (meal before dawn to prepare for a day of fasting) and was getting ready to go to bed. This was at around 3:11am. Roughly half an hour after this, my phone rings, a dedicated ring for the app Viber. I instantly answer the call from Egypt and receive the news, which I am meant to tell the rest of the family.
So I sit there in shock. Well, I think it was shock. And what confused me the most was no tears fell. Absolutely none. I questioned this at the time. I questioned my inability to cry or at least show some form of emotion after devastating news. Let’s face it, in my pretty short life, I’ve seen a lot of death. From relatives, to family friends to loved ones, family and neighbours, who were killed during the Libyan revolution. Each time I was able to cry, to weep, to show and feel sorrow over the loss of those who’ve impacted my life in a positive way. So why was I, then, not able to show any emotion?
I mean, I’m not too sure why my reaction mattered so much at the time. I was all alone, in bed, with the phone still in my hand, staring at the light starting to seep through the blinds.
During the whole shocked, trying to process what has happened period, I realise that I am, in fact, the only member of my immediate family that knows and that I have the responsibility of informing others. Which is like saying, ‘I know you’re not really trained to be a marathon runner, but we expect you to run one anyway’. How was I supposed to give information that I myself couldn’t comprehend? But all responsibilities must be adhered to. I made an international call informing my mother, who had just woken up and was preparing for work, to come on Skype. I wait patiently until she comes online. Those measly minutes take years, and all the while, I process the news and rehearse what I’m going to say.
“Hi hun, everything okay?”
“Hi mama…errm, Alhamdullah, I am fine.”
“Mama, so…erm, I got a phone call 2 hours ago and err…”
In which everything I proceeded to say felt like it was tearing out of my gut and in which my dearest mother’s sobbing felt like it was ripping my heart. And in which, my mother books the next available flight to Egypt for the funeral and in which I felt the need to be there with her. How so much more went down, but shall be reserved for my memory.
At this point, I may have released about two tears. So I proceeded to further question my lack of tears. Am I so accustomed to death that it fails to impact me like it used to? Am I still in shock? Will it all hit me in a few hours? A few days?
The thing is, we concentrate so much on our reactions. We question our response and actions, especially during a period of grieving. In fact, what we should be doing is placing an emphasis on processing the information and processing the loss. Rather than monitoring our constant reaction, whether we cry or become unresponsive, we should try to identify if we truly understand and comprehend. Usually, when one has shock due to grieving, they become unresponsive and their thoughts may run haywire, leading to confusion and sometimes denial. We need to take time to process loss, which can lead to the ultimate acceptance.
Some people say you won’t believe it until you see it. I guess that was the case for my mother, who is very glad she went in order to attend the funeral. For me, I’m not sure yet. It’s still slightly hazy. I’m still dealing with remnants of slight shock, and yeah, maybe when I go and notice the loss firsthand, it will be much easier to comprehend. For now, I’m focusing on acknowledging reality of the situation. I think i’m on my way to acceptance. I’m also focusing on continuing with my impending master’s dissertation, which seems like it’s my life’s current priority. When it’s over, in 2 months, I have told myself that I’ll dedicate timeout to focus on me. I’m not sure if that sounds selfish or pretentious, but there’s a lot of things that need to be thought about, of which I currently don’t have the proper time. All in all, one must stay positive and hope for a time of complete contentedness.