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If Grieving Is A Process, What Do You Gain From It?

Understanding Life That Helped Me Out Of The Grief

If man be solely a body, its loss indeed the final period to identity — Paramahansa Yogananda.

On my first visit to Bali, probably it was eight or nine years ago, I met a man, he was young, probably twenty-three years old. He was a popular, outgoing boy, juggling between work and Uni, independent with an adventurous spirit. I was, no more than a heartbroken tourist — a lost tourist who didn’t want to be found.

His name was Lee Julianto. Lee took me under his wings.

Broken heart healed, I came back to Bali more often ever since, and we developed a genuine friendship. Following our adventures and a few of misadventures in Bali, I self-published — via Apple books and Amazon — a travel memoir ‘Of Fire, Water, Earth’.

Four years ago, we were sitting at a coffee shop, watching the golden egg-yolk sunset in Seminyak. He told me he was battling an illness, but he would be just fine. That night, he wanted to spend the night together. He said ’Like we’re going to die tomorrow.’

And we did — If I knew it would be our last night.

A few days later, I was drowned in loud, dance music and intoxicated, surrounded by joyous friends at Stonewall hotel, Oxford street, Sydney, when I learned my best friend, Lee, passed away on WhatsApp messenger.

It was the loss of such a young life, larger than life boy, barely twenty-seven years old. Because of the complication of a terminal illness that I found later from his sister, In February 2016, from his death bed, his family watched his life slip through like a piece of paper. The picture of his dying body was circulated and celebrated by heartless friends on social media and WhatsApp chats. Even dying alone with dignity wasn’t an option for a once bright, young man.

Four years have gone by since then, all of my life, I was made to believe that grieving was a process and that anxiety was a part of the process.

His death was a significant loss for all of us who knew him, and I was lost in the sea of grievance for long. Friends, their consoles were like a professional psychologist comfortably sitting on a plush armchair legs-crossed with a notepad on their lap: ‘Grieving is a process. Time will heal you. When you’re ready, you’ll come back again.’

So I was told over and over again: embrace the grief as a process; to be what? Celebrate his life and remember him; but to remember him, I need to dig in memories. And those memories would nothing but causes of deep sadness.

Smith K, PhD, LPC, writing for psycom website, in her article ‘Grief And Anxiety’, argues that anxiety is expected in the grieving process.

If grieving is a process, what do you gain from it? I didn’t get anything from grieving, other than losing a sense of safety and control in life. I could easily panic and worry whose next I may fail in the future. Not to mention difficulties of sleeping and selfless care that indeed ended up under the dark shadows of anxiety. I couldn’t agree more with her.

Adding to Smith’s argument, the process of grieving is up to six months. More than six months of anxiety, it is complicated grief. In other words, it is an anxiety disorder. So I suffered from complicated grief that I had no clue about.

But the days don’t always rain. The cloud will reveal a blue sky. Grieving has to end for good. Last year, I travelled solo to Bali and joined various yoga classes in Ubud, Bali, a yoga instructor politely approached me and asked me if she could help me with anything — she whispered into my ear before the class began. Did she read people’s mind? — I wondered. Though she didn’t specify what kind of sadness I was in, she said that there was a deep state of despair in me and it has been for an extended period of times. Her words were a turning point in my life.

She suggested that I started meditation, yoga regularly and made some radical changes in my diets. The following day, as she promised, she came back with a bundle of notes for me for my reading homework before I went back to Sydney. I took her advice on board. In such a short time, through meditation, I came back to be in charge of my mind. Meditation gives you an inner-state capability to detach your inner-self from any attachments of mind; sadness, grieving, anxiety, worries, insecurity. In the period of grieving, meditation is a spiritual tool to separate your inner-self of truth, from the accumulative sorrow caused by the long period of grief.

Yoga is union. As the name suggests, yoga is a spiritual process that granted you the strength to unite your inner self with your physical strength. You understand your body and respect it through vulnerability and energy. Through consistent practice of meditation and yoga, I went through a monumental shift of perceiving, experiencing and understanding life.

Paramahansa Yogananda, in his book ‘Autobiography Of A Yogi, suggests that the goal of yoga science is to calm the mind. In other words, it’s a method for restraining the natural turbulence of thought. He argues that yoga shouldn’t be a barrier between East and West as it is for healing any more than does the healing and equitable light of the sun.

I gained momentum in changing my view of life but the change it’s not because of out of the grief, but understanding the death as a life cycle, we should appreciate life.

Though death is the end of the experience as a living person or organism on earth, it should be accepted as a natural process of humanity.

It’s not grieving that teaches you life. Grieving didn’t make me strong and resilient, but it’s my understanding of life and death. Understanding life that helped me out of the grief.

I healed not because of the passing time and the process of grieving — as most suggested. Still, I recovered because I came to reach out a certain level of spirituality and consciousness. My belief that if your body, mind, and emotion are in balance, and so is your life.

  • My deepest gratitude to Malika, the Yoga Barn, Ubud, Bali. Through my limitation of speaking Japanese and yours to English, you taught me the endless possibilities of healing.

  • In Memory of Lee: another sun, another moon, another life, and we shall rejoice in the light.


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