I lost my dad due to COVID in 2021. He was thousands of miles away from me in a different country, and I was stuck in the United States, unable to travel due to travel restrictions. My incapability to be near him aggravated the pain of losing him. I couldn't tell him all the things I wanted to say to him. I wanted to express my gratitude and love for all he has done for us kids. He went through a tumultuous time raising us, unlike any other family. There was a period in our lives when he was taking sole care of us, for which he had to make a lot of sacrifices. His mental peace was gone, and he struggled to handle the life situation. Dad journaled every night to ensure that he was able to vent out. I was witness to how powerful writing can be for your mental peace. That's where I learned that writing could be a powerful tool to deal with any problem positively.
Having an excellent education from one of the finest universities in the world, working with Fortune 500 companies, and founding my startups, I can call myself successful today. And dad was proud of my success. Despite all his challenges, he ensured that he imbued the right and positive mindset in us.
So when I heard from my brother that dad contracted COVID at the peak of its wave, I was worried. I saw his condition deteriorate daily; he lost his speech and strength to move. I felt so helpless that I couldn't do anything. We decided to bring him home so he could at least spend his last moments surrounded by the family. The same night the dreaded call came. As if waiting to return, Dad had passed away at home.
Whenever I remember our time together, the feeling of loss also comes with it. I couldn't hold my feelings, my tears anymore. I still recollect every second of it. I still grieve and don't think the grief will ever be over because there are too many memories I cherish.
But I have also come to accept that he is no more with us, and in the process of letting go, I found a powerful way to deal with this grief. I want to share this four-fold path with you, and you can use it if you are dealing with losing your loved one.
Each of the four-fold paths focuses on these feelings: Surrender, Forgiveness, Gratitude, and Love. Journaling our thoughts around these feelings can help us deal with the grief and loss of our loved ones. Let's unbundle how you can use surrender, forgiveness, gratitude, and love to come to acceptance.
Path 1: Surrender
I have come to realize surrender is a powerful method for our mental peace. Surrendering doesn't mean giving up but accepting a life situation the way it is. When you surrender, you don't pass judgment on the situation, person, or thing. You acknowledge and let go. There is a great sense of freedom in letting go. Surrendering to a situation also means letting go of expectations. You go with the flow.
Here is what you can do to practice acceptance:
- Find a calm place and sit with your eyes closed.
- Take three deep breaths and relax any tightened muscles in your body.
- Think of the person you've lost with all the respect and love you have for them.
- "I accept your absence in my life and free myself from the pain of losing you." Say these words with all your conviction.
Practice these steps, and you will find it easier to deal with the grief and eventually come to terms with the loss sooner.
Path 2: Forgiveness
Many unacknowledged phases in our life need forgiveness, and we don't even remember them. When we talk about forgiveness, we often portray a situation where we were the victims, and someone had taken advantage of our position or condition. We need to sever the mentality of using forgiveness only for an acknowledged situation when we feel we are negatively affected. We need to practice forgiveness for unacknowledged scenarios too.
When it comes to your lost loved ones, you must practice forgiveness in three different areas. Here is what you can do:
- Think of the person you lost with all love and care.
- Recite in your mind with all your heart:
- "Please forgive me for all the hurt I have caused you."
- "I forgive you for any hurt you've caused me intentionally or unintentionally."
- "I forgive myself for any pain I caused while grieving you."
Path 3: Gratitude
We are grateful for many things in the world, but how often do we express our gratitude? Do we express our appreciation for the people who shared part of their life journey with part of ours? Can we still express our gratitude after we lose them?
Yes, we can, and we must. It's one of the forces that ties all the loose ends.
Here is how you can practice gratitude to the person you are grieving:
- "I am thankful you chose me for part of your life's journey."
- "I am grateful for all the learning you imparted to me."
- "I am thankful for all the memories you've shared with me."
Expressing gratitude is paying a debt in kind. It's priceless when it comes with a genuine feeling and frees you.
Path 4: Love
We can sum up the entire universe to one thing: love. Love is unconditional, eternal, and omnipresent. We often fail to see its presence in our busy lives, but love is always there. We realize the value of love when there is a loss. A sudden absence of a person in our life can create a void that we can only fill with love.
Here is how you can express your unconditional love:
- Remember a time with the person when you felt unconditionally in love. You didn't care about yourself but only about them.
- Replay the scene in your mind and feel it happen once again.
- Say this while remembering: "My love for you is undying and will stay with you wherever you are."
- Repeat this every time you miss them.
Expressing love fills the void when you don't wish for anything in return. Remember, love fills the gap.
I hope using the four-fold path brings closure between you and the person you lost. It did for my dad and me. It has helped me accept his absence and increased my love for him.