Dealing with loss

Have you ever been on standby – to wait for a person to leave you forever, then subsequently be on standby again – to say goodbye?

It’s been quite a rollercoaster ride for the past week. I’ve been very swamped with a super packed calendar, choc-a-bloc with work commitments, social engagements & had to deal with the reeling news that someone close is on the verge of dying.

So when the phone call came in the early morning of Friday, I knew she have finally left us.

You know how melodramatic everyone is when they receive news that someone has departed? In those telly dramas, people burst into tears/screams bloody murder/faints/frozen to the ground etc… but I’d be really honest & tell you, at times when the closest to me have departed, I had no such reaction at all.

I’d be super calm, with a silent acknowledgement and the rest of it plays out in my head for days to come.

I believe everyone has to go through proper closure & grieving when they’ve lost someone dear to them, and I am not saying I’m different from that. But I can’t help but feel the way I deal with a loss these days, is somewhat like the (disclaimer: stereotyped) reaction of the male population.

Which goes kinda like this: news -> denial -> drown your sorrows -> eventual acceptance.

You do not talk about it. You don’t cry about it (not willingly/publicly/soberly anyway). You march on with life as though nothing is wrong.

In any case, I’m not pigeon-holing any guys… just a generalized observation, that’s all.

That’s pretty much me. I held it in, went on a long day of work & felt a sudden strong inclination to hit the pub with a good friend.

The fact of the matter is, I could not get the closure I need & grief properly. In Hong Kong, just like in the living world, one has to queue to get served.

This includes your funeral wake & final burial/cremation. I was told it could take months, and that is a fact of life.

If you’d ever wondered how does it feel like being on a limbo, this is how it is like. You can’t move on, because you can’t say goodbye, and because of that you continue on with your daily life like a zombie.

In any case, I guess we are all just trying to revel in the fact that she no longer has to suffer anymore after battling with cancer for the past 7 years. The last time I saw her in April, which I am immensely thankful for, she was still her fiesty self despite having gone through 2 major brain surgeries. Her spirits were still high & the essence of her has never wavered all this while. And having heard how she suffered in her last days, I’m just glad she no longer have to endure it anymore.

I never realised how selfish we are as humans until I heard the words of a Buddhist shifu that coincidentally was in the country when my beloved grandma passed away. She said, as humans, we never want to let go because we love the person too much & are selfish for wanting to keep them with us for as long as we can. However, this prolonged suffering of the person is not what is best for them, but they have to suffer it – for us, for the living, who does not want to let go. If you really do love someone, you will want the best for them… and when the time has come, the best is release.

Release from all the pain, suffering, physical incapabilities.

I will miss you, my dear aunt YY… and will cherish all the great times whilst you were with us.

Last night, I received news that Yasmin Ahmad has passed on too after her stroke earlier this week. She is best known for her heartwarming advertisements with strong multiracial messages, as well as putting Malaysia on the world map in films with great works like Sepet, Gubra, Mukhsin & recently, Talentime. I must admit I felt a loss, despite not knowing her in person, but just because as a Malaysian, her work speaks to all of us & it certainly is a pity that she left us 51 years young. Rest in peace, Yasmin & thank you for teaching us that being colourblind is the way to go in maintaining our multiracial harmony.

Sometimes, death is the only release & the only time you have real peace (hopefully – Michael Jackson seems not to have attained that still… sigh)

What is most important are all the great memories that shall live with us for the rest of our lifetime. Thank you for that – my dear aunt, Yasmin for your gift of insight & Michael, the gift of your music.

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