How to Suffer Excruciating Pain and Live Again

excruciating pain and grief

What’s the most excruciating pain you have ever felt in your life?

I don’t mean physical pain, but the pain of the loss of a loved one. How did you get through?

A while ago, the football (soccer) world was shocked and saddened by the death of the German goalkeeper Robert Enke who committed suicide by walking in front of a train in Germany. It became clear afterwards that he had been suffering from severe depression.

Then in November 2011, Gary Speed one of my footballing heroes, also took his own life.

Maybe it is beyond most of us how one can be so unhappy or depressed to take their own life.

How can one be driven to such despair?

I have often written here on my blog about making the most of our life and our time on this planet. I also speak about how there is always a brighter side to everything and how we should always try and be positive.

Well, there is always another side of being positive and this sad case is just one raw example.

We can all get so caught up in being the best, following a “normal” path, and acquiring stuff, that we forget to enjoy life.

The tragic story today about the German goalkeeper seems to have evoked some old unhealed wounds in me.

Can you even imagine what it would be like to be so down and hopeless to take your own life? I mean, with The Samaritans and other help available, who would opt to take their own life? That must be the ultimate sacrifice.

How awful and helpless the people around him must feel right now?

Today I am going to share something which I have not yet been able to publically, and which I have left buried for over 2 years ago.

In June 2007 my best friend himself committed suicide in the USA, only a week after he had spent a few days with me here in London.

Only a year before, I had been the best man at his wedding. I will always remember the look on his face when I shared some stories of our time together:-)

When he left the UK for the final time, I dropped him off at a station in London so he could take the train to the airport. Little did I know that that was the last time I would see him.

I still didn’t think anything of it when he sent me a really touching and heartfelt text message on his way to the airport, thanking me for all my friendship over the years and saying what a kind friend I had been to him.

It was only afterwards that I realised what he was doing – he was saying goodbye and it was his last ever message.

Then two days before his passing away, he left a voicemail message asking me to call him as he had something to tell me. For some reason I didn’t call him back over the phone but instead sent an email saying I was going to be away over the weekend and could we speak the following Monday.

He emailed me back wishing me all the best for the weekend. And that was that – he took his own life that Sunday, two days later.

The loss of my friend was such a great loss and only now I realise just what he meant to me.

To even write about this loss is a huge thing for me. I am revealing something that has been really painful for me and perhaps I am finally showing some vulnerability – no more cool Arvind:-)

Yes, it is finally okay to show my vulnerability and reveal my own pain and grief.

They say that only when you have lost someone can you really understand and feel what they are going through.

Arvind's father

Having also lost my father two years ago, I can empathise a little with the family of Robert Enke. Though the nature of his death also adds to the shock and the grief.

My heart really goes out to the family and friend of Robert. But just how does one console them? How will they get through the next day, week and month?

When a public figure dies in such tragic circumstances, there is usually a huge outpouring of grief and sympathy from the public.

I will always remember just how the UK reacted the day Princess Diana died.

However, it is not just about sharing our grief and showing compassion for those public figures who live in the public glare.

We can also show our compassion to those many people who die in “normal” circumstances.

There have been a spate of deaths in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and other areas lately. There was also the killing of soldiers in the USA last week.

At the same time, remember that there are horrendous losses on both sides when there is any war.

Maybe it is just the nature of our time on this planet that we are meant to experience the excruciating pain of a loss?

If that is the case, what can we do for those in shock and grief over the loss of a close one?

Yes, we do live in a beautiful world and there is so much goodness in us and around us.

Yet, life can also give us such heart rending, excruciatingly painful experiences that it takes all we have and much more to even get through each day.

I have seen both sides and I must say that though it was so painful at the time, I am a better, more rounded and grounded human being as a result. I also know that sooner or later in our life as we get older we are going to lose a loved one.

Somehow I used to think that our parents will always be around. I was almost shut off from the possibility of my father not being around one day.

I guess we all do that but knowing that such a separation one day is certain could help us appreciate our time together that much more.

This afternoon when visiting a friend, I got talking to one of his office colleagues who mentioned how he felt something was wrong with him since he still felt so down after the loss of his father over two years ago.

He explained how some friends had told him that this was not normal and he should have “got over” it by now.

I said to my new friend that it was perfectly okay for him to grieve as it was appropriate for him – everyone has a different journey and way of dealing with their loss.

A person’s religious or spiritual path, or even lack of one, could really be a strong support through such a time.

I have already written at length about the loss of my own father and his lessons in compassion.

Now almost two years later, the pain and the loss is still there as ever and not surprisingly, I seem to attract or talk to people with similar losses.

Last weekend, I caught up with a friend after a few years and she explained how she had lost her elderly mother earlier this year after a long fatal illness.

Though my friend was aware of her mother’s imminent passing, when it actually happened the pain was still immense.

She did explain though that in the last few days she has had a great awareness of just how much her mother had loved her and how that love was still there for her and always will be.

In that moment, when my friend shared about her mother’s love, I too felt just how great my father’s love was for me and how it would always be there.

Somehow, when we remember our loved ones we think about all the things we didn’t do or say, or regret some of the things we did say which we wish we hadn’t.

In that moment of feeling my father’s love, it suddenly became clear to me that in the great scheme of things, these regrets did not matter. Somehow I too got a little sense of completion last weekend.

So the question is how can one go through such excruciating pain and live to tell the tale?

time to see the rainbow

Here briefly, are some of the things that have worked for me.

1. Talk About It

Be open and talk about your grief and feelings with close ones. Maybe you have a really good friend who would be willing to just listen and be there for.

Better still discuss things with a family member and you will both be able to help each other’s healing.

2. Spend Time on Your Own

Conversely also spend time on your own. Do what you need to as each person’s journey will be different and will deal with their loss in their own way.

3. Spend Time in Nature

Do go for long walks in nature, either on your own or with friends. Being in fresh air and exercising will take your mind of things – and also make you present to the majesty of the universe and how we all fit in. Perhaps you will get a sense of the eternalness of our lives.

4. Get Special Help

If really necessary, consider whether you need any grief counselling. I have never experienced this, but I do wonder if this would have helped me. I did have many supportive friends around me, but I guess professional input would have helped too.

5. Give it Time

It is a cliché about time being the great healer and perhaps it is. However I reckon that quite often we do not heal, but just cover it up, only for it to show up later in our lives.

Maybe with time the pain just gets masked. Even now and then, I still feel my loss, it is just not as raw as before. I kept saying to myself – this too will pass. And guess what – a few years have already gone by.

Also, take all the time you need – do not listen to others who tell you that you should have “got over” the loss by now.

To end, know that anyone can get through the excruciating pain of a personal loss.

There are so many lessons from life and death we can all learn.

Though I can never ever claim to understand the pain that anyone else is going through nor underestimate their anguish, I do know that we are gifted with such resolute strength that we can get through it all – and begin to live once again.

The happy memories of our loved one will always stay with us. And perhaps ultimately that is what counts more than anything else. And also the awareness that their great love for us will always be with us.

That knowledge and awareness really frees us up on our quest for completeness and happiness – which after all is what our departed loved ones would ultimately want for us anyway.

Perhaps on that note, the family and friends of the late German goalkeeper Robert Enke and Welsh footballer Gary Speed can one day get some solace and peace.

What are your experiences and thoughts on surviving the pain of a loss?

How did you get through?

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Thank you for reading! – Arvind

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  1. I’m glad I came across this post, Arvin.

    It can be tough when we’re dealing with a painful situation—especially the ones that are too unique for others to really understand. It can feel at times that there’s no solution to our problems and we’re stuck with a burden that haunts us endlessly no matter what we do. In times like that, the wisest choice may be to wait it out and let the situation change with time, as you said.

    • Tim, welcome to my blog and thanks for commenting.

      I agree with you that we have to wait it out and let the situation change with time. No one else can help us with our pain and our journey,

      The times when I have tried to sort it out, it has felt like banging my head against a wall – not good when I was already suffering a lot of pain!

      I wish you well with your journey.

  2. Great article Arvind. I really like your first point. It makes a lot of difference when a person talk about their problems versus keeping it all to themselves.

    • Thanks Karlil.

      I am finding that by talking about my “problems” they either disappear or the solutions become obvious.

      I only wish my dear departed friend had discussed his problems with me. Or maybe he tried to but I wasn’t listening. Looking back, the signs of his despair were there but hindsight is a wonderful thing.

      From that time, I always make time to talk to a friend in need or if he/she wants to talk. Withing reason of course – one cannot just become someone to be dumped on!

  3. This is a really wonderful article. I feel your pain.
    Thanks for being open and sharing.
    Much to be learned from your wisdom.

    • Thanks Kavit – nice Gravatar:-)

      I am glad you found the article useful.

      We all the wisdom within us to share with others – if only we can all find the courage to be open and sharing. I am glad to say that I am beginning to:-)

  4. Arvind, losing a good friend or someone from your family is always a tragedy.
    One of my best friends lost his mother through suicide after long years of depression and shortly after that his father passed from grief.
    I still remember the countless hours we spend. I was just listening to him. That was all I could do and that was enough. He finally came to a point where he realized that they had choosen that passage and that although painful he needed to accept that decision.

    It is a sad fact, that his mother weren’t able to find a better way to cope with the depression, but he accepted her choice and were able to get along with his own life.

    And it is the same in this case. People might not be able to understand why he had chosen this way, but they need to accept it. Sad to say but true.

    The only thing that we can do is to remember the god things we shared with the people and try to honor their legacy by leading a good life ourselves.

    • fiona O'Hanlon says


      You gave a priceless gift to your friend in “just listening” . In no small way you helped him grieve. It is the true hallmark of a good friend and deep capacity for compassion and friendship. I know, you too Arvind, retain this quality and have done likewise many times.

      Well done a thousand times.

    • Patrick, thanks for sharing the touching story of your friend. It is so good that you were there for your friend and you were able to see him through to acceptance of his mother’s choice.

      Accepting that someone has the choice to take their life is probably one of the hardest things to do. Though I accept that my friend had that chance, a huge part of me still wishes that he has chosen to discuss things with me. It turned out that he was quite depressed and had been affected by the drugs he had been taking for many years for his IBS.

      Yet he always appeared really level headed and he was the last person you would have thought who would take his own life. It shows that you just never know what is really going on for a person deep down.

      It is sad also to know that your friend’s father also passed away soon after the mother. So often that happens when one partner leaves us and the one literally seems to die of a broken heart.

      Years ago, I remember how a work colleague’s elderly godmother suddenly passed away. On the day of the funeral my friend went to pickup the bereaved godfather only to find that there was no answer to his know on the door.

      Eventually he broke the door down only to find that the old man had peacefully passed away in his sleep. So his godparents passed away within just a few days of each other.

      Such is life – as you say, Patrick, the only thing we can do is remember the good things we shared with our loved ones and honour their legacy by leading a good life ourselves.

  5. Zeina Gabriel says

    Dear Arvind,
    Thank you very much for your touching post. I am really sorry for your losts. You are definitely right when you say :” The happy memories of our loved one will always stay with us. And perhaps ultimately that is what counts more than anything else. And also the awareness that their great love for us will always be with us.
    That knowledge and awareness really frees us up on our quest for completeness and happiness – which after all is what our departed loved ones would ultimately want for us anyway.”
    I am sorry to hear about the death of your friend. Arvind, it wasn’t your fault. Don’t blame yourself for his death. Let him go and know that his happy memories will always stay with you. He is watching over you from wherever he is now. It is ok Arvind, just let him go…
    Take care.

    • Dear Zeina,

      Thank you for your kind words of encouragement and empathy. I do know that my friend is always around me and for me. Sometimes I can actually feel his presence.

      Every year now on the anniversary of his death, I get together with a mutual friend ad we toast to his life.

      Thanks by the way for picking out that particular sentences and including in your comment:-

      “The happy memories of our loved one will always stay with us. And perhaps ultimately that is what counts more than anything else. And also the awareness that their great love for us will always be with us.

      That knowledge and awareness really frees us up on our quest for completeness and happiness – which after all is what our departed loved ones would ultimately want for us anyway.”

      Those words just seem to come out of me and I hardly had to do any polishing up, when I reread them.

      It almost felt like a message from the ether:-)

      Maybe god, the universe, source or whatever higher power you believe in (if any) spreads his message through us bloggers…

  6. fiona O'Hanlon says

    When we experience loss in our lives, we feel a physical void. It hurts like an open wound.

    Healing I believe comes from filling that space with new experiences/people so that we learn to experience happyiness again.

    While doing this we need to “ACCEPT” what has gone before (possible regrets) and take all that was good and loving about that person or situation, and use it to bring bring happiness once more to our lives.

    If it is a lost person, hold them close to you daily in your hearts as if they are still with you, continue life and celebrate accordingly.

    When in trouble “reflect” on how they might have advised you.

    When happy, remember their love and legacy to you allows you to feel your present happiness. This will alow you not to replace them but to keep them living within you.

    Fill the void of loss with new experiences, enriched by the love we shared with loved ones. No one can ever take it from you, this will always be with you wherever and whenever you are in your life today and in the future.

    I personally experienced loss through the breakdown of my marriage and am presently losing my beloved Mum to Alzeimers and daily failing health.

    This could be my last Christmas with her and I plan to make it “memorable”, not in the materialistic sense.

    I wish to celebrate our love for one another. No regrets!

    • Fiona, what wonderful words of wisdom!

      Firstly sorry to hear about your mother. Sad though it is, at least you have the wisdom and foresight to want to make it a memorable Xmas.

      What better way to spend your last Xmas than to celebrate your love for one another.

      Through grace, you will be able to treasure the memories of these coming days as well as all your memorie to date. So you are very lucky in that. Many people who suffer sudden, unexpected losses do not have that opportunity – and in many ways that makes it harder for the people going through bereavement.

      They never get a chance for completion and treasured last moments together etc and the sudenness of it all can be quite a shock.

      Yet we all live as if our loved ones will always be around us.

      Fiona, you have shared some great tips about how to move beyond our loss and taking all that was ood and loving about that person (or situation) and using it to bring happiness once more in our lives.

      Thank you – now go and celebrate live and love with your mother!

      You have one lucky mother:-)

      • fiona O'Hanlon says

        Many thanks Arvind, for your kind words.

        As you say, I will go and “live and love” with her at this time.

        I agree that I am lucky, that I have been granted this opportunity to hold her hand, tell her how beautiful she is and still manage to bring a smile to her face as she peers above her sheets (asked her where her dancing shoes were the other night). She is now a little girl in front of my eyes, but in my heart my Mum forever. She gave my siblings and I so much with so little.

        I do agree with you that a sudden loss is probably more difficult to come to terms with and the possibility of “if only’s” perhaps more so. It would be hard, no doubt.

        • Fiona, I love the vision of you and your mother with her dancing shoes:-)

          I reckon you are going to have a ball with her over Xmas! Such happy memories forever…

  7. Arvind, thank you for having the courage to share such a personal story with us. I’ve seen my share of tragedy, but nothing in my immediate circle of family and friends (thankfully), so I can only imagine what you’ve had to go through.

    Stay strong, my friend.

    • Thanks Jeffrey for your kind words 🙂

      It is all part and parcel of life – and I am probably much older than you and therefore been exposed to more of the ups and downs of life.

      As Patrick said above, we should all lead good lives in memory of those who been before us – and I am really proud to see you blossoming as a top blogger, spreading your words of wisdom about the “Art of Great Things”

      Folks – check out Jeffrey’s wonderful blog at

  8. Arvind, your post touched something inside of me that I’ve been trying to forget for the last year and a half.
    I am very grateful that I still have my parents with me and that both of them are in good health.
    However, a year and a half ago I was filled with joy and happiness because my girls were born just a couple of months ago. I was a mother and I had two most precious people near me, they were healthy and they were (and still are) the light of my life. Nothing could spoil my happiness. At least I thought so.
    One day I received a phone call from my best friend. She said “Nastya, I need to talk to you. I have something important to tell you. Alex died.” I didn’t know what to say and I could not move for several minutes.
    Alex was my ex-boyfriend. Even though I broke up with him two years ago I still felt that he was like brother to me. Our relationship didn’t work out (though we’ve been together for three years!) and I left him because I found my true love – my present husband. We still talked some but I knew that it was painful for him to talk to me because he still loved me. He moved to another city when we broke up.
    Alex was 22 years old when he died. He had a heart attack and there was nobody by his side when he died. I still feel responsibility for what happened to him. I should have insisted that he quit smoking. I should have made him go to the doctor more often (I knew that he had heart aches occasionally). I should have done something … but there is nothing I can do now.
    I went to his funeral and I saw his parents. He was the only child. His mom was devastated. His dad too. After just becoming a mom I felt the pain that Alex’s mom experienced. This is the pain that nothing could tame. I cannot imagine losing any of my girls…
    You understand the true meaning of pain and loss only after you go through it. You cannot get ready for anything like this. You cannot prepare yourself for it. You can just go through it when it comes and grieve and mourn as much as your soul desires.

    • Oh Anastasiya.

      Thank you for having the courage to share such a heart rending story. As I said in my article, this is such a wonderful world and yet we also have to deal with such excruciating pain.

      This is part of the gift and the curse of having taken on a human birth. There is no getting away from it.

      I really feel for you and your loss. At the same time, you will one day stop feeling responsible for him. There is nothing to say his life span would have been any different if you had stayed together or if you had done all the things for him that you wished you had.

      Harsh as it may sound, his health was at the end of the day his own responsibility.

      As you say, you understand the true meaning of pain and loss only after you go through it – you cannot get ready for anything like this.

      At the same time, fortunately life gives us many more opportunities for joy than sorrow – we just have to make the most of them.

      So continue to enjoy the gift of your twin daughters:-)

  9. Oh, Arvind, beautiful post. I lost my father when I was 14 and it felt like losing a limb. And the points you list are so true but the most important thing to remember for me is the old cliche time heals all wounds. Losing someone close requires a lot of time to get over, and while some of the pain may never completely go away, it does get easier.

    • Belinda, thanks for sharing about your loss.

      It seems that almost everyone has a story about loss, and I guess that is only natural – as we all get older, loss is going to become a more regular occurence in our life.

      I now await time to heal the pain of my loss – it is actually getting easier but it is all relative. It is moving in the right direction from excruciating towards numbing…

  10. I don’t know if you’ve ever read it Arvind, but I too wrote about my sister’s passing and how I dealt with it and also my suicide attempt many years ago. I couldn’t agree more with what you’ve said. Sometimes there is nothing you can say or do to help people except be there for them and let them find their own path and healing over time.

    • Amit, yes I did read both your articles about the passing of your sister and also of your suicide attempt many years ago.

      As you say, there is nothing we can say or do for people except be there for them.

      You have been a great support to me over the years so thanks for being there for me buddy:-)

  11. Suraj Gogoi - Psychiatrist, Business coach says

    Arvind, thanks for sharing your intimate personal stories of loss.

    Your stories remind me of many a personal memory…of some kind of loss. One such memory is about my father-in-law. My father-in-law was a high ranking police official in north-east India. When in charge of an anti-insurgency operation, about 15 years ago, his vehicle hit an improvised explosive device (IED) and that was the end of his life.

    My wife and I were not married then but we were very close friends. It seemed as if our lives had been put on “pause” with the rest of the world going around us as usual, without missing a heartbeat. Everything seemed so meaningless. It is now, when we look back, we are able to ‘connect the dots’ and accept that it was all part of an ongoing journey – our mission in life. In our eyes, my father-in-law died a true hero.

    Time did prove to be a great healer for us, not merely by making the painful memories distant but also by helping attribute an empowering meaning to the loss experience.

    When it comes to loss and bereavement we are all in this same voyage together, but the emotional experience will remain very personal – influenced by the meanings we choose.

    • Dear Suraj,

      Thanks for your kind thoughts and for sharing your own very personal story.

      I can’t even imagine what you and your wife would have gone through at the time of your loss. Time is indeed a great hearler though when you in the middle of it all happening, it seems so painful and never-ending.

      I like what you say about the meaning you choose to put behind your loss. In your case, your father-in-law died a hero and in the course of his duty. He would have probably seen it as an honourable way to go.

      Thank you again – and all the best.

      • Dear Arvind,

        Thanks a lot! I guess we human beings seek to find meaning in everything that we encounter in life; we need to have the “certainty of a reason” – especially to cope with unexpected loss or bereavement.

        I wonder whether one is destined to grieve in a different way if death is felt to be in service to one’s community or country, as in the case of our servicemen engaged in Iraq and Afghanistan?

        P.S. Your thoughts are insightful and inspiring 🙂

        • Suraj, everyone’s grief is really personal and deep no matter how their loved ones pass away, whether through illness, old age, accident or in the course of their duty.

          I guess if a loved one gets killed in a battle doing what they believed in, we may be able to accept their passing by feeling that they left us by honourably in the course of their duty.

          But at the end of the day we have still lost them and it is really painful to experience that loss.

  12. thanks for sharing your stories.. I really enjoying it…

  13. Marques De Valia says

    I’m glad I read this.

    Hey — i have one to get through the pain of life…recall when you were happiest. It was probably sometime in childhood.we’ve all had chidhood pain too, but i am guesing that u had some golden moments in your childhood, where you felt nurtured and protected.

    When you get quiet moments, try and think back to those times…in our childhood, often life was simpler.

    I sympathise with your loss….keep me on your list!

    Your cousin in Boulder

  14. We have no choice when we are born especially into an uncertain world. We may have a happy upbringing and be successful in life (or not), but what is certain is we can die anytime for a many reasons. Depression may cause an altered state of mind, but it is also true that some people make rational choices. Life is one big joke on us because we live according to social conditioning and are all controlled by this whether you think it or not. Suicide then for some is freedom from slavery. A choice people starving to death do not have. I fully support Euthanasia and who are we as a society to challenge for example the terminally ill as to whether they are being rational or not. Instead of grieving! How about celebrating the end to suffering and changing our whole perspective on grieving which is ultimately selfish!

    • fiona O'Hanlon says

      A lot going on here.

      You have some very interesting comments, all be it somewhat fatalistic as opposed to realistic. But these are your feelings and thoughts and they are yours alone.

      Just like your comments, so too is grief a very personal journey. Oxford Dictionary describes it as ” Intense Sorrow” / “Deep Distress” .

      C.S. Lewis describes it “No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear”.

      Social conditioning demands that we react to life and our environment. We can choose “not” to react to external stimuli and instead respond to life’s events/circumstances in a positive way.

      We have the freedom to “choose” how we think and what we do. As for suicide, it is not I suspect a release form slavery, however it is a release from emotional pain.

      They want help, they want to be happy, which is propbably why men do it more than women, who find it easier to talk, the latter don’t. All want to live and be happy.

      I agree with you about celebrating an end to suffering after a long illness. I don’t agree that grieving is selfish. It is in fact a very healthy and neccessary process and those that don’t experience it will do so in perhaps a negative way that will hurt them more.

      Society must be responsible for the greater good of its people. Euthanasia while outwardly may seem a good idea, excellent and kind pallative care should be the focus.

      Life is a gift from God (if you believe) and if you don’t, it is still a gift. Enjoy your life. Its your “choice”!

  15. dilip karkare says

    dear arvind,

    I feel grateful to have come across your site,and i am overwhelmed too see such wonderful people like you are still existing.All i want to say is “PRAY CONTINUE & MAY YUOR TRIBE INCREASE”

    • Thanks so much Dilip for your kind words – I certainly plan to continue with my writing for a long time to come.

      And the tribe will come if the message is powerful enough:-)

  16. Arvind,

    Thank you for sharing so deeply from the depth of your heart and soul. You are such a beautiful person.

    Even though we know that life is impermanent, it is such a shock when a death occurs in our life and very painful indeed. What I would add to your list is learning to befriend impermanence on a day-to-day basis long before death visits. Acknowledging and accepting death and impermanence each and every day helps us to live more fully in the moment and get our priorities straight. Christian monks used to repeat the phrase “Memento mori” – “Remember dying” as their reminder to make the best use of this life. Everything is constantly changing on a gross and subtle (sub-atomic) level too. It’s the nature of things. Knowing this can help soften the shock to some degree.

    • Thanks Sandra – this wasn’t the easiest of articles to write. But it was certainly cathartic.

      I really appreciate what you added about learning to befriend impermanence on a day-to-day basis long before death visits.

      I am currently reviewing where I am at in my life – and the hardest thing is to take on change on a big scale without feeling the perceived loss of things I would be “giving-up”.

      Yes – “remember dying” in every moment – and each moment will be extra-special and meaningful.

      Thanks you Sandra.

  17. Arvind,

    What a sad story about your friend. I wonder, did you have to deal with guilt in addition to your grief? How did you overcome that? I have not dealt with a suicide in my direct circle of family/friends, but have witnessed others deal with it and it seems the guilt is what prevents the healing from starting.

    Anyway, thanks for sharing this. It was a nice tribute to those that matter.


    • Thanks Jen for your kind words.

      Indeed, I did have to deal with the guilt as well as the grief – I still wonder what would have happened if I had simply called my friend two days before his suicide.

      As for how I have dealt it the guilt, time has helped and also the belief that his time was up and there was probably little I or anyone else could have done for him. Also I felt that he had been so ill that harsh as this may sounds, this was possibly the best thing for him.

      I do agree with you that guilt does stop the healing process from starting.

  18. Thanks for writing this, Arvind.

    Loss and grief are difficult pains to feel. 18 years after my Dad passed, I still deal with some the emotions from time to time. My grandmother, who had lost her own mother very young, said to my mother, “they’re never going to get over this, you know”, about me and my sister (I was only 10 when we lost him). I have great memories of my Dad, and I mostly wonder what life would be like if he were here now.

    To complicate things, in a fight I once had with my mother, she tried to make me feel guilt over my relationship with him, telling me he didn’t think I loved him when he died. Ouch. Rationally, I know this is a far-fetched idea that an adult man could think this about his 10-year-old child, but the fear that it could be true always lingers and causes the deep and tormenting pain of guilt that I can’t seem to shake (when I entertain it). My mother now denies she ever said it, so I’ll never know if it was true.

    I believe there is hope for me with this issue though. Maybe it will take therapy. Maybe my Mom will shed some light on why she said that. Maybe I’ll just make peace with the fact that I may never know how he felt about me, and learn to grow around it and shape me into a person my Dad would be proud of now.

    • Arvind Devalia says

      Dear Sarah,

      Welcome to my blog and thanks for your kind feedback above. I am so glad that my article has helped you in some way.

      I still think of my late father everyday even though it is now over three and a half years since his passing. I guess it is part of life and I will be dealing with these emotions coming up for the rest of my life.

      I was lucky in that I was able to have my father around me until many years into my adulthood. I can’t even begin to think what it would have been like to have lost him from the age of say 10. He himself lost his father when he was only eight, and I often wonder what sort of lonely childhood he had.

      As for you thinking that your Dad thought that you didn’t love him, how can that be? I really believe that parents (I am not a father) would not expect anything from children so young – instead they would be simply happy to love their children unconditionally, without any expectations of reciprocal love.

      Sarah, maybe you don’t need to deal with this “issue”.

      Maybe you just need to spend some time reflecting on how you can be the best person you can be, so that you Dad can be even more proud of you.

      And perhaps you don’t even need to do anything more to prove yourself to your Dad (or indeed anyone else). Wherever your Dad is now, he is very proud of you already:-)

      Sarah, you already have so much going for you and so much to be proud about. I wish you all the best for your journey.

      Love and best wishes


      • Dear Arvind,

        Thank you for your kind and thoughtful reply. 🙂 I very much appreciate it.



  19. Arvind,
    great article and so timely.
    as you know i lost my mother to lung cancer a couple of months ago. although we knew she was dying and obviously had the chance to say our goodbye’s, the grief i felt a month after her passing was tremendous.
    I literally spent the week under the covers, crying.
    however, i do really feel privileged that i had this time with mum; that we got closer than ever and that i was there for her peaceful passing.
    i miss her hugely.
    thanks for sharing your stories.
    much love,

    • Arvind Devalia says

      My dear friend Tania,

      It’s so good to read your comment as it shows that you are gradually getting back into some sort of “normality”.

      Losing a loved one like a mother is such a huge thing in our lives and it’s not something you can get over easily.

      Take your time with your grieving and your healing – do whatever you need to do and cry until the tears don’t come anymore.

      I realise now that at the time of my father’s passing, I didn’t shed many tears. I become “superman” and got busy with sorting out all the funeral things etc – I had to be “strong” for the family, or so I thought.

      You were lucky and privileged to have spent those last few months with your mother. Know that she is now at peace and in a better place.

      Take care and all the best for the coming weeks and months. Go easy.

      PS And see you again soon:-)

      Love and best wishes


  20. Arvind, thank you for your lovely comments

    yes some semblance of normality now. one day at a time.

    talk soon!

    • Arvind Devalia says

      Tania, you are welcome. It does get easier with time. And there really is no speeding up the healing process.

  21. I just read your post and all the comments. I had family member die 2 years ago and i can still remember, vividly, the night I found out and the guilt I felt for not going to her funeral (she was in a different country). That has been my only encounter with death of a relative and bereavement. Now my boyfriend of two years recently lost his brother to cancer and he is devastated. He broke up with me because he says he’s incapable of feeling happy again; that he feels alone and wishes he couldve been gone instead of his brother. He is seriously crushed; says he cant live life without him. I want to help. From what Ive read here time will ease the wound and having a support system helps. He doesnt want help: he doesnt want anyone telling him anything. That is one of the reasons he says he loves his dog so much, because he can hug her and cry and she wont say anything back. He says words cant do anything. No one else knows how he’s feeling. Hes a very reserved person. Last night that we texted I was scared he was suicidal and so I asked him if he wanted to hurt himself and he said no. That gave me some relief. I want to be with him. I love him so much and miss him so much. I dont know what to do, say, think, feel, etc. i want our relationship again; i want to be able to help him. I want him to be able to confide in me and know that he is not alone because he says that he is always alone. What would you recomend I do?

    • Ana, welcome to my blog and thanks for sharing your personal story of your loss.

      When we lose someone, we can easily get into a guilt trap about what we did or didn’t do for that person.

      But once they are gone, what can you do? You can only remember the good times and forgive yourself for any hurt you feel you might have caused them. In the big scheme of things, I am sure it doesn’t even matter.

      So often the person you feel you have wronged, may not even be aware!

      As for missing your relative’s funeral, sometimes it’s just not possible to show our respects in person or the way we would like to. All I can say is that know that the deceased person’s spirit lives on and knows just how much you care. And they would not want you to feel bad or guilty now:-).

      I can empathise with what your boyfriend is going through – and how he wants to be left alone and doesn’t want any help. He is going through a whole cocktail of emotions right now.

      Perhaps the best thing for him now is to be left alone. Let him know that you are there for him and he can contact you anytime. Give him some space and time and let him deal with his grief in his own way. There is no right way and each person has to go through their own pain and journey.

      I get the sense that you are almost fixated on his well-being which is great – but now may be the time to focus on yourself. The old relationship may or may not be resurrected but only time will tell. Give him some space to be and deal with his loss in his own way.

      Finally, here’s an article from a friend’s blog which you may find useful in understanding about “helping” others:-

      Ana, I wish you well on your own journey – and all the best for your boyfriend.

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