Grief is different for everyone

grief and loss

In the last year, I have had a couple of clients who have had a parent who died either when they were a toddler or before their birth. Quite obviously, these clients grieve. But for some reason, others around them don’t seem to understand it. They have been at the receiving end of comments like “Oh but you wouldn’t have known your mother/father much anyway so what does it matter?” Or I have heard staff questioning why the student would want to attend a grief program and thinks they are lying about the grief because “they didn’t know their [parent].

The thing is, they do hurt. Irrespective of whether they knew their parent or not, it does matter.

It matters because while they probably didn’t know their parent, it makes grieving more complicated as they are aware of the loss but have nothing to hold on to in order to grieve. It matters because of how they perceive things ‘could have been’. And not knowing that parent or person makes it harder because they can envision all the different positive ways they could have shared their lives with that person.

Invalidating this grief and invalidating the experience that these individuals go through is probably one of the most harmful things people can do. There are times I want to ask these adults how they would feel if someone told them it was pointless to grieve for someone they’d never met. Or known only for a few days or months. Just to give them some perspective. At the end of the day, there is no one recipe for grief. Just as there is no one way to grieve, similarly there are no rules around how long you must have known someone in order to grieve their loss.

I won’t lie and say I know what it feels like to grieve — to be perfectly honest, I don’t. I haven’t really lost anyone that close. Sure, I have lost two grandfathers and one grandmother but I wasn’t all that close to my paternal grandfather {who died when I was 11}, hated my paternal grandmother and probably because I wasn’t around for the death of my maternal grandfather, some days it feels like he will still be around when I go back to visit Bombay. I haven’t felt that emptiness. Or that vacant hole filled with pain at the loss of someone I love. It doesn’t mean the fear doesn’t exist. It is there. All the time. Especially as I know I am going to have to face it some day.

I hope that the day I face this, my feelings will be validated. That there won’t be people telling my how I should feel. Or how I should grieve.

In the end, we are all human. We have feelings. And we express them differently.

As long as we are not hurting someone else, what gives anyone else the right to tell us how to express ourselves?

So if you are grieving, whether it is for someone you knew or someone you didn’t but wished you knew or for a loved pet or friend, grieve your way. I hope you get the love and support you need to do so.

Have you ever been told how to grieve? Or how not to?

Do share.

***Linking with Grace for FYBF***

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Until next time,

Cheers!!

 

On gender inequality: Blog Action Day 2014

If you follow my blog, you will know by now that I’m a staunch feminist. While there are several issues I am passionate about, I thought that for Blog Action Day this year, I just had to talk about gender inequality. Yes, even in 2014. Because let’s face it, this is still very much a part of the culture worldwide.

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I think I was a feminist long before I even knew the term. Being born a girl in India, you cannot help but notice the inequality in society from a young age. For instance, I noticed how I was told to not play rough games like the boys by some of the older generation. Or that at school I was told by the PE teacher that girls didn’t play cricket {in response to my request for a girl’s cricket team}. Or when I was told off by a teacher for whistling because girls don’t whistle.

I noticed how my friends’ brothers were given more freedom than  they ever were. While my parents were generally liberal, I noticed a few other things. Like how my father called his in-laws ‘aunty’ and ‘uncle’ whereas my mother called hers ‘mum’ and ‘dad’. And how my mother wasn’t allowed to pursue the education of her choice by her parents just because of her gender. Or how the religious rituals emphasised that women had to pray for the well-being of their husbands. And of course, when a woman had her period, she wasn’t allowed anywhere around god or in extreme cases, anywhere in the kitchen or common house areas. Because she was supposedly impure.

I’d like to think that generally as a society we have started treating women reasonably on par with men. After all, it is 2014.

But sadly, reality says otherwise.

Women still earn less in most countries for the same work. In the US, women’s earnings are 78% of men’s earnings in 2013 while in Australia, the gender pay gap is 17%. Violence against women continues to be rife and yet, the voices against it are stifled more often than not. One in three women will experience some form of violence in her lifetime. This can be in the form of rape, physical abuse, domestic violence, emotional abuse. When a woman is raped, time and again around the world, people blame the woman — what was she wearing, what is her profession, why was she out at that time of the night, what was she drinking, why was she drinking. And yet, no one questions the rapist — why did you rape her?

There are still countries in the world where women don’t get to choose who they marry. Or even when they want to get married. Women are still the first to be denied education in many developing countries. This, in spite of the fact that educating girls can improve the economy of the country. In countries like India, female foeticide and infanticide is still rife to the point where the gender ratio in some states is extremely skewed.

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We might be in the year 2014 but we still have a long way to go in this world for women to be treated equally. This is why we need feminism. This is why we need days like White Ribbon Day. This is why we need International Women’s Day.

Hopefully, we will educate people. And create awareness of the gender inequality that seeps through society as a whole.

What are your thoughts on gender inequality?

Do share!

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Until next time,

Cheers!!!

I don’t like studying literature

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As I write this, I am struggling with an assignment for my Theory and Creative writing class. I have a 10 minute (unmarked) presentation tomorrow on the topic of authorship and need to relate it to the works of Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes. Following this, I have a 3000 word essay on the topic due in a couple of weeks. To say it is driving me nuts is an understatement.

It reminds me though, why I never liked studying literature. I am having flashbacks to my undergraduate days when I studied English literature during my first two years and well, lost interest in reading for pleasure. Similarly, since starting this course back in July, I haven’t actually had time to read for pleasure. I do like Sylvia Plath’s works but unfortunately, when it comes to writing an essay on a topic I know little about, I am struggling. My tutor has been helpful enough but try telling someone who has studied psychology — arguably a scientific subject — to now write an essay where they can actually provide their own opinions. It’s mind blowing!

For years while studying psychology, my essays and reports were critical analyses of studies and using other research to back up arguments in the essay. But I was never allowed to have an opinion. Never allowed to write my views. Never allowed to use first-person. And now, all of a sudden, I have been told I can use first person in my essays. I can have my views as long as I back it up with references. And these references are not based on any scientific research. No way. They are based on others’ opinions. Some of these opinions seem to ramble {in my own humble opinion} leaving me confused as to what their point of view is. Psychology never rambled. The researchers didn’t have the means to do so.

It’s a bit weird that I can have a creative brain and yet prefer something so analytical and logical. Apparently, something completely free-flowing doesn’t agree with me. Or maybe I have just trained my brain to think a certain way after all these years of psychology.

Whatever the reason, I know one thing for sure. While I love reading and writing, I don’t like studying literature. It seems to take the fun out of reading and writing. In the end, shouldn’t creativity be about fun? About enjoyable and pleasurable moments? Rather than struggling with theory and essays?

Have you studied something creative and found that it can actually suck the pleasure out?

Do share!

photo credit: the bbp via photopin cc

***Linking with Alicia for Open Slather***

Until next time,

Cheers!!!

What Indian parents say but what they really mean

Indian parents rarely ever speak about certain things directly. They will beat around the bush, imply a lot, talk in a roundabout way and well, expect you to figure out what they were trying to say. 30 years on, I still occasionally struggle with the message my parents are trying to convey.

Image Source: Here

Image Source: Here

 

However, I have still made progress and am willing to share some of my secrets with you. Presenting to you, my readers, what Indian parents really mean when they say the following things:

Our neighbour’s daughter was up at 5 this morning.

What they really mean: Why can’t you be more like their child and study harder instead of sleeping in till 8?

So you got 85% in Maths…

What they really mean: Where the fuck did you lose that 15%? I’m spending all this money on getting you tutored and you can’t even get 100% in Maths. What’s going to happen to you in life? Oh god…what did I do to deserve this?!

So you topped the class in English…that’s an easy subject

What they really mean: English doesn’t matter. What matters is subjects like Maths, Science, History, Geography and Hindi. Why can’t you do well in those? Why can’t you top in those? What are you going to do with good marks in English? Oh god…what did we do to deserve this?

Are you sure you want to pursue Arts after your School Certificate?

What they really mean: Everyone is pursuing science and going on to medicine or engineering. How will I face my friends and tell them you are doing arts? Please reconsider!

We have always trusted you and you have never let us down

What they really mean: Don’t you dare do anything irresponsible now and spoil the family name!

Did you know that {insert acquaintance name here} is getting married?

What they really mean: When are you going to get married? Why are you so stubborn you won’t let us find someone for you?

You know {insert person’s name} son? He just got a very good job in {insert well-known organisation}

What they really mean: Why don’t you meet him? He’ll make such a good husband.

By the way, {insert acquaintance or random person’s name here} daughter is pregnant.

What they really mean: And here I am still waiting to become a grandparent. Waiting. Waiting.

So what does he do?

What they really mean: Is he a doctor or an engineer? Does he earn in the millions? Has he got a postgraduate degree? And if he isn’t and doesn’t have any of these, what is wrong with you?

What is his family like?

What they really mean: Have they got the same values as us? Do they think like we do? Are they sane? {Because yes, we are all oh-so-sane!}

We would like you to get married than just live together.

What they really mean: Do not have sex before marriage. We just don’t want to talk about sex with you but we assume you will understand what we mean.

We are fine

What they really mean: You are supposed to read our mind and figure out that we are not.

I will pray for you

What they really mean: I’m afraid you are a lost cause and now there is no other option but to pray to the Gods to help you see some light. And by light, we mean our way of thinking.

Okay

What they really mean: Not okay!

Have you got any other gems about what your parents say {Indian or not!}?

Do share!

***Linking with Jess for IBOT and Emily and Vanessa for Laugh Link***

Until next time,

Cheers!!!

On self control and food. Or lack of.

This post is brought to you by Gaviscon.

Christmas food

Can you believe that Christmas will upon us in less than three months’ time? Three months! Where did the year go? Christmas for me, means one thing — food. And a whole lot of it. At work, we are starting to plan our Christmas lunch. Usually we tend to have at least a couple of Chrissy celebrations. One as a team for lunch and another with a few other teams that share the same building as us as either an afternoon tea or just another lunch where everyone brings a plate.

Unfortunately, around this time of the year, I notice that my usually healthy diet goes out the window. Out goes the willpower and everything else. I eat cheese. And sweets. And crackers with dips. And chocolates. And cakes. And sometimes, I don’t know when to stop!

Until I’m ready to pop. Then for the rest of the day, I struggle with feeling bloated and sometimes even indigestion. I want this year to be different. So I figured I’d try out some things to prevent me from over eating. These are my ideas so far:

Wear a really tight skirt: I figured if I wear a really tight skirt, I’ll feel full quicker. How? Well, I will get a little bloated and the tight skirt will give me the illusion of feeling really, really full! This in turn, can help me stop over eating. And voila! Mission accomplished. Of course, I will have a spare skirt handy so that once I have officially left the lunch room, I can change and not feel like I’m about to pop!

Drink heaps of water beforehand: Another way of tricking my body into feeling full before it actually is, would be to drink a lot of water before the said lunches. That way, I’ll be almost full and am unlikely to eat all that much. Hopefully.

Eat slowly: We always hear about how eating slowly helps with feeling full faster. Well, maybe this time, I will actually try that! I’m going to eat reallllly slowly and be more social instead. You know, talk to more people and be the social butterfly instead of just eating and listening.

The calories: This year I’m thinking of reading up how many calories are there in a slice of cake or in cheese or dips or crackers. And then, do the maths while I’m at lunch. I’m sure just knowing I’m eating way more calories than I can burn in a whole week of bootcamp will be enough to stop those cravings! And if not, well then, I’m just pathetic.

Buddy system: I guess if all else fails, I could have a mate hold me responsible. I’m sure my friends A or M would be happy to oblige. Give me a look or even just ask me if I’m sure I want that third piece of cake!

On a serious note though, I really do need to do some of these. Or at least get some self-control. I lost it a couple of weeks ago when we had a farewell party for one of my colleagues and the food was amazing. I swear I was going to pop and felt really, really sick after. I joked about how I had a ‘food baby’ and didn’t understand how women did this for nine months with a live one! I really did need something to help me get some fast relief from heartburn. And all I could think of was “Never again! No matter how good the hazelnut chocolate torte is!”

Do you have trouble with self-control when it comes to Christmas or other events?

Have you got tips to not overeat?

Do share!

***Linking with Alicia for Open Slather***

photo credit: evanrudemi via photopin cc

Until next time,

Cheers!!!

Physiotherapist tales

This post is brought to you by Chandler MacLeod

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photo credit: postbear via photopin cc

Some months ago, I had to bite the bullet and visit a physiotherapist for my knee problems. The problems began back in 2013 when I started hiking a lot. It was particularly during descents that my knees would eventually hurt. Really, really, badly. Then when I ran at the gym, I couldn’t run for more than one or two kilometres without a stabbing pain in my knees. Most of the time it was my right knee but the left one would play up too at times.

People suggested seeing a podiatrist and getting orthotics in my shoes because I tended to roll my feet in while walking and running. So I did. And paid a bomb for orthotics. But unfortunately, the pain continued. That’s when I decided I had to do something I probably should have done before.

I went to see a physiotherapist.

I chose to see a sports physiotherapist because of the activities I engage in. Although technically, I have never had a knee injury, it was essential that I see someone who could assist me keeping my exercise routine and hiking in mind. There are other physiotherapists specialising in aged care, community care and rehab but I guess I’d probably only need the last one currently if I had some kind of injury. I was fortunate to find a sports physiotherapist close to home who worked with footy teams. They obviously knew their stuff.

I still remember on the first visit he got me to walk and to do one-legged squats {yeah, that was hard!} and in the end explained the mechanics behind my knee pain which had to do with the way I walked, the structure of my joints and bones as well as the not-so-strong muscles around my knees and tight muscles on my glutes and hamstrings.

Seeing a physiotherapist also showed me how health professionals other than doctors and psychologists work. For one thing, they were able to see more than one patient at a time. I was taught some exercises for my knees and made to practise the same while they then went and taught another client. They’d check on their patients separately. And oh, the best bit? The massage! In order to loosen my tight muscles, I got a massage. Within a few sessions and continuing to do the exercises at home, things improved with my knees. The last time I went hiking in June {an overnight one}, I didn’t experience significant knee problems and that to me was a huge relief! This coming weekend will be another test.

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I personally found physiotherapy to be more effective in terms of the pain as well as in terms of the cost. Due to my private health cover, it was way more cost-effective than a podiatrist. As long as I take responsibility and practice the knee exercises, it is beneficial. And it was all over the span of a month. I can run for about two kilometres now and can hike without too much difficulty.

I guess I know where to go the next time I have some problems with joints or muscles. And let’s face it — on this side of 30, my body is probably going to need it!

Have you had to see a physiotherapist? 

Do share your story!

Until next time,

Cheers!!!

The month that was September 2014

September

We are officially into the last quarter of 2014. It can only mean one thing: summer is nearing! Daylight savings will begin. And we will have longer days with sunshine and more time at the beach. September went by very quickly for me. I guess time does fly when you are having fun.

September has been a fun and busy month. Busy with uni  and working on a couple of short stories as part of my assignments. Sadly, there is also one essay to complete. Life is feeling full and I’m enjoying being in love. While I haven’t gone on very long hikes or camping trips, I did have a wonderful weekend away with JK. I explored what it was like to be a first-born child as well as a second-born last month.

September has also been a month though where I briefly questioned my passion for my job. My newish flatmate also decided to leave. And did so without actually giving me a date. It has been a bit difficult trying to continue engaging in blogging while keeping busy in all these other areas. Sleep is eventually what I’m losing out on. And engaging appropriately with other bloggers. I keep telling myself though that there are only five more weeks of uni for this semester. And then a break till February! That should certainly give me time to recuperate.

All in all, September has been a pretty good month. October is looking just as busy. We have a long weekend coming up and I’m going on an overnight hike — my first since June! Yes, it’s been ages. I’ve also got the essay and the short stories to look forward to this month. And more wonderful moments with JK. I’m hoping I find a new flatmate soon this month. Because it’s not easy to have a life and pay a mortgage on my income. Keeping those fingers crossed!

How was your September? 

And what does October hold in store for you?

Do share!

Until next time,

Cheers!!!