We all experience pain just that it looks different on each one of us


We all experience pain just that it looks different on each one of us. It was while watching a telly series that I took note of these words. I am talking of six years ago. Clearly, the words have stayed with me. As I have grown older, I’ve only found more wisdom and solace in them. I’ve also observed and accepted some truths about life and death alongside.

My beginning of understanding the truth about pain, the only truth that we should know, goes back to a day in September 2015 when I lost my hostel roommate in an accident. She slipped while coming down the stairs and never woke up. She left behind her loving husband, two gorgeous little boys, and us — her friends, who were not prepared to lose a part of our university days. The loss brought with it a lot of pain, which did look different on each of the six of us. One chose to not talk to anyone of us for days in a row, the other made it a ritual to meet our friend’s little boys every few weeks, and another revisited ‘our’ anecdotes each time we spoke. We grieved the way we knew it and made sense to us — hiding, crying, showing anger, and talking. As time has passed, we’ve figured our own ways to hurt less too.

Of course, we will continue to encounter pain at every level. Life will throw at us many situations —disappointments at work, cheatings in business, heartbreaks in a relationship, and more. But most importantly, as we continue to breathe, live, and grow older, people we love will leave us — which will be the time we will want to be permitted to experience pain our way. Why do I bring it up? For, as I look around, I realise that often we don’t allow each other the freedom to do so — mostly because we care too much and want to help.

For quite some time now I’ve been around people who’re in pain. There is a colleague, who lost her dad a few months ago. She has occupied herself in paperwork. She is a rock and no challenge or problem disturbs her, anymore. She talks about her father and pens down her memories with him, every now and then. We communicate with warm hugs when his topic comes up. Then there is a friend’s mother in India, who is dealing with the loss of her husband for 35 years. In the last couple of months, she’s learned how to drive, joined a neighbourhood community as a head, and travelled abroad (alone) for the first time. We communicate with lovely pieces in Hindi that she writes for me.

Let’s just say that life is tough and we can’t avoid the exits, but we can surely help each other deal with the pain. We can stay quiet and say this is your experience and I will not judge you if you don’t shed a tear or decide to shout at me or choose to start a new life, a new relationship. If this pain is our last association with the departed, we should be allowed to let it stay personal. I can only hope we can do this for each other.

P.S: Losses can’t be measured and shouldn’t be either. Let’s respect the loss of the other, big or small.


This piece was first published in Khaleej Times.


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© 2018 by PURVA GROVER