{{contact.first_name}}, how do you cope with unimaginable loss?

Dec 09, 2021 6:36 pm


Hi , it's been quite a while, hasn't it?

I apologize for not writing for quite some time. Initially, I was planning on taking some time off in September to focus on other things. Along the way, some other things happened, and then, life happened, and, here we are now.

I've been meaning to write this down for a while, but I keep on postponing it because I know that when I do sit down and properly put my thoughts down into words, the flood gates would crumble and the waterfall would start again.

Exactly one month and a day ago, I lost my mother-in-law.

For those of you who followed me on social media, especially on Instagram, you would probably have seen my stories and posts in late October and early November. Long story short - my mother-in-law tested positive for COVID-19 and was admitted to Hospital Sg Buloh immediately. After 2 weeks of fighting multiple infections and complications, she drew her last breath at around 2:30 pm on 8th November 2021.

Because she was a COVID-19 positive patient, things were a bit complicated in terms of the burial process.

But I consider ourselves lucky - the hospital allowed the whole family in for one final goodbye before they finalized the kafan process. The men (& boys) even had the opportunity to do solat jenazah right there in the viewing area. Everyone (except me, as I opted not to) was even allowed to be in PPEs and accompanied her as they lowered her down into the earth.

I took a week off work just to be with Aiman's family. He was the first son, so naturally, there was a lot of responsibility and burden for him to carry. He had to make sure his father was doing okay after losing his wife, and also make sure that his three younger siblings are coping well.

As for me? I needed to be strong for him.

I have had a number of losses in the past, but this is my first time losing someone in my immediate circle - someone close and dear to me and my husband.

And I didn't know how to respond.

Just before we heard the official news of her passing, I had a breakdown in my car alone after I left work early. I called a friend and just bawled. I needed to get all the feelings and emotions out before we went back home to everyone else.

Even throughout the whole burial process, and while we were packing up her belongings and putting things away, I held back my tears as much as I could and only cried at night when no one could see me, or hide myself away from the crowd.

And don't get me started on how I look on social media - posting random & stupid stuff about life and news like I haven't just had one of the worst days in my whole entire life.

As I talked to my therapist a few weeks ago about grief, I told her about how I felt like I was able to move on so quickly from the loss. It kind of makes me feel like I didn't love my mother-in-law enough, that she didn't matter as much to me as she did to others. In short, it made me feel like a bad daughter-in-law for moving on so quickly from her death.

My therapist then said something that struck me hard.

"You let yourself get over the grief, the pain, quickly because you want to be strong for everyone else around you."

I still remember Ibu's last words to me when we had the chance to video call her at the hospital before the doctors intubated her - "Syaza jaga adik-adik semua ya." (Syaza, take care of the siblings OK?)

I know Ibu meant well, and of course, I would honor her wishes and help to take care of the siblings. They're my siblings too, and of course, I want to make sure they're doing alright.

But I think I somehow subconsciously ignored taking care of myself while trying to take care of everyone else around me.

And that's never a good thing.

Grief manifests itself in different ways to different people. Some people are so much better at processing and overcoming their grief, while others take a little while longer. Some may feel lost and in despair, some may be hurt and in anger, and others may feel disconnected and numb.

And, sometimes, if you're like me, moving on a little too fast and celebrating other wins in life, you may feel guilty for not grieving more. This can lead to you feeling like you didn't care enough about them, that you didn't hurt as much as anyone else.

If you ever feel that way like I did, please allow me to say this to myself, and to you as well - your grief is valid. Your feelings and emotions are valid. However, you choose to react and respond to the grief is valid.

Moving on with your life does not mean that you did not hurt enough. Overcoming the loss quicker than others does not mean that you loved them less. Going about your day and not talking about it does not mean that you do not care at all.

We all have different coping mechanisms - and that is okay.

Be sure to first take care of yourself - you can't pour from an empty cup. Be sure to give yourself time to grieve in your own ways, and find something that can help distract you or brighten up your day, however little it may be.

And, remind yourself that your loved ones would not have wanted you to mourn them forever while giving up your life. They would have wanted you to continue living your life to the best that you can, so let's do it for them.


I honestly have no idea where and how to end this, but I think this is a good place as any to call it a night. If you have gone through similar unimaginable losses in your life, I hope that you are recovering well from the loss. Remember, the grief does not shrink or get smaller as time passes. But instead, we grow around our grief and we learn to manage it in a better way so that it does not hinder our day-to-day life.

Until I see you again in the next email - please do take care of yourself. Mask up, wash your hands often, be mindful of social gatherings and take good care of your physical and mental health.

Stay safe, and stay awesome.


Nazu xx

p/s And yes, I was right. The flood gates burst open and the waterfalls came again. ._. Oh well. Time for some dinner and good ol' ice cream to patch up the flood gates.