The Right to Grieve

When my grandmother passed away it was on a day I should have been happy. She left this world on my birthday and not just any birthday but one I had been looking forward to for the whole year. I spent the days and weeks before it building myself up for a fantastic celebration. So, when the news came that my most beloved family member had left me the shock was overwhelming and my emotions were scattered in every direction.

We all know from a young age that no one is with us forever and that one day we must all pass and return to our maker. But nothing can prepare you for when it actually happens.

On the day of my grandmother’s death I abandoned everything I was doing and took the first flight back to the family in Glasgow. I was still comprehending what had happened when I walked, with vacant expression, into my grandmother’s flat. The flat was filled with mourners that had also dropped their plans to pay their last respects. To see how many lives my dear granny had touched was outstanding and for once everyone was able to remain in the one room without wanting to throttle one another.

It was too good to be true and I knew it wouldn’t last but for that moment I didn’t care.

As by Islamic tradition the funeral was speedy and within twenty four hours she was laid to rest. I made sure that I was involved in every part of the death rights that I could be: after all she had always loved and cared for me and I wanted to reward her for doing so.

Later that same day my sorrow hit and it hit hard. My body couldn’t cope with the number of mixed emotions I was feeling and with the reality that the matriarch of my grand family was no longer going to reprimand me for wearing earrings, I blacked out. It’s how my body copes in situations like this but it allowed me to release all those tears I had been holding back.

Even whilst writing, I remember how the cousins and I all scattered red rose petals on her grave and unknowingly we had covered the section of her grave where her legs rested. As children we spent most of our visits massaging her legs to ease the pain she was constantly in, so it was only natural that we would stand there.

The problem with death is not just the fact that someone you loved has gone but that until you leave the commotion of those casual mourners and those disputing the validity of the ‘will’ you can’t weep. You spend most of your time standing to greet people you do not know or those who have kept away due to some unresolved argument. They express their ‘deepest sympathies for your loss’ and you reply ‘that it is in the hands of God,’ or ‘she is no longer suffering now.’ And all the while you feel that you are consoling them and neglecting yourself. A selfish thought I know but one that must be had.

We all have the right to grieve and we do so in our own way. For some it takes longer to hit than others but once it has and you have accepted it you can move on. I have only now started to accept the facts for it is only now that I have been able to take the time to think about them. In time I will move on. Maybe when I return to Glasgow the wounds will reopen again and I will weep a little more. But for now, I know she is at peace.

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