When it happens to you
Grief is something I didn’t want to experience at the age of 15. When I heard the devastating news, I was overwhelmed with grief. It was more than sadness; it was an indescribable feeling of emptiness.
I cried all night until no more tears were left. I had to go to school the next day. People observed my eyes full of sadness and asked, “What happened?” I told them that death had befallen our family. I received their pity and condolences, which felt somewhat odd because I had yet to accept that my loved one had died. I remembered that I used to be the one conveying my condolences to other people.
This is the first death I have experienced in my life. In the past, it was I who comforted someone when his or her loved one passed away. I would sympathize with the bereaved and say my condolences, hoping they would feel better. During those times, I shared my pity with them. I gave them a little comfort by telling them that I had noticed their grief. I thought that when I noticed their grief, I would be able to help heal their wounds. However, in my heart I did not truly share their sadness because I never felt it. I never understood why one who had lost a loved one couldn’t just miss class and then move on.
Now I am the one receiving condolences. I feel different and strange. The people around me seem to be feeling the empty feeling that I feel, with love and care. It is a whole new experience that surprises me no end, since I never truly realized that extending condolences does help. Nevertheless, if they said it sincerely and honestly, or if they did not, then I can tell who are truly there for me and who are not.
It is weird seeing objects and places that remind me of my loved one; it truly shows how my loved one was so significant in my life. I feel utterly insensitive of the feelings of others when their loved ones passed. I never tried comprehending their loss because I did not want to barge in on their personal lives. Now I can see the meaning of it all. Expressions of condolence differ from people to people. Often I said my condolences carelessly, just to be able to do it because everybody else did it. I never got to see the essence of the act. Now, little by little, I am understanding it.
Condolences may be insignificant to those who do not feel the pain, but now, such expressions have shown me a glimpse and a new understanding of how humans truly are! Expressing condolences shows me that when someone dies, one tries to find a way to comfort the grieving other. It’s a slap on my face, and I’ve realized that I was ignorant and insincere.
I was not human; I was a mere robot with a beating heart when there were feelings that demanded to be felt.
Thiara Tan, 15, is a student of Ateneo de Zamboanga University.
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