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A Sedative For Grief...?

By Jonathan Lee

A Sedative For Grief...?

By Jonathan Lee

“I’ll treat you to a meal when I’m out.”

I never got that meal because those were his last words to me.


He died early the next morning. 

I was just 13.

Pa was a cool dude. And when I say cool – I really mean it. Unlike your typical Asian dad, we rapped to Eminem in the car, went on late-night supper meals without Ma knowing, and spent countless hours talking about anything and everything under the sun.

Pa had no qualms telling my brother and me that he loved us, rubbing his stubble all over our faces in the tightest of hugs, and spending every waking hour totally invested in our lives.

He wasn’t loud or obnoxious like I was and still am. In fact, he was a pretty quiet guy. Yet, he was the life of any party he went to. He didn’t have to try hard because he had this quiet confidence and humility about him that drew people in like a moth to a flame. My friends loved him and would sit for hours at his feet listening to him because he was a magnificent storyteller.

And now, my greatest hero, who I thought was invincible, was in a wooden box littered with flowers, waiting to be lowered into the ground.

I wish I could come up with an article detailing three steps to overcome grief or five coping mechanisms to deal with death. I wish I could teach you some ground-breaking breathing exercise or a fitness regime to forget the pain you feel. I wish I could tell you it gets easier with time. 

But the truth is – it never gets any easier. 

Grief feels like a knife to your heart as much as a dull ache in your heel that hurts just enough to keep you perpetually uncomfortable. Sometimes, it feels like a tempest that tears up everything in its path as much as a lonely and deafening silence in the eye of storm. Often, it’s an amalgamation of denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.

Grief feels like a sigh of relief and a realisation that a loved one is put out of their misery. Yet, it also feels like betrayal after watching a loved one fail to keep their promise. Grief brings a sense of clarity on what truly matters in this short life we live. Yet, it also brings in waves of confusion that leaves us with more questions than answers.

No two persons deal with the grief of losing a loved one the same way. There is no cookie cutter formula to dealing with grief because we all deal with it differently. 

We may lock ourselves in our rooms to cry our eyeballs out, listen to horribly depressing yet surprisingly cathartic R&B songs to get by, go on long walks or runs, look at pictures of times past, or resort to destroying a tub of Ben and Jerry’s. And that’s okay! Do what you have to do to get it all out – the hurt, the pain, the frustration, the disappointment, and the anger. 

But then… look for the silver lining in the clouds.

In a world where absentee fathers seem to be the norm, I had a father who was ruthlessly present for 13 years of my life, a shining example of what it means to be a man, and the full-force of a father’s love that gave me security and identity. If I could be half the man Pa was, it would be the greatest accomplishment of my life. 

Grief may be a sobering reminder of what we have lost, but it is also an indication that our lives here on earth have yet to come to an end. A funeral may be a tsunami of tears, but it is also a celebration of a live well-lived. Weeping may endure the night, but joy comes in the morning.

To all of us who have loved ones among the stars in the skies, I pray that we will be reunited with them soon enough when the dust settles. But till then, we remember the ones who have gone before us by living a life infinitely larger than ourselves.


Published on 20/10/2020

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