Mental Health

Why I turned into an optimist after my mother’s sudden death

Grief is complicated and challenging, but it can also teach you a couple of valuable life lessons—only if you allow it.

By Adarsh Soni
08 May 2021

“Someone has to die in order that the rest of us should value life more.” I never thought that one of my favourite Virginia Woolf quotes would hold any real relevance in my life; but as I navigate through the months following my mother’s passing, I realise that it makes more sense than ever. According to a study by Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, happy people have a higher chance of living past 85 than their non-happy counterparts. My mother was always visibly happy and full of life. She loved her teaching job and her enviable collection of sarees. Then why did she not outlive the rest of her family?

It would take me an eternity to answer that question but, simply put, she did not put her own happiness above others. She did not constantly nag my dad about his alcohol dependence even though it was more than just affecting her on the surface. The stress was developing into anemia and her blood platelet count was dropping by the hour. Usually they would fight and then reconcile, but one particular winter night, which also happened to be the night after New Year’s Eve, my mother locked herself in her room and never came out—the doctors said it was a silent heart attack.

I remember how once she didn’t even get a scratch after falling from a lofty flight of stairs, insisting that she go to the party in her high heels. But I did notice one detail about the incident. The mighty emerald in one of her beloved rings couldn’t endure the fall and had started to chip away.

Now that I look back at it, I consider it as a sort of a sign of her deteriorating mental and physical health—something we knew very little about since she painted the facade of being truly happy. It was good acting—I’ll give her that. The past few months have been like a rollercoaster ride that I never wanted to get on but there have been moments of solace. One must take time out for their own mental health no matter how hard the situation is. I’ve been waking up early, taking long walks, listening to old Lady Gaga songs that remind me of my childhood—a time when I didn’t know what a credit card was and most importantly, a time when my mother was still around.

The loss of a parent is never easy, especially so in the case of a mother—it’s simply biological because you are literally a part of her. I look exactly like my mom; and even though I have a stubbornly independent streak, a part of me still thinks I’m living the life that she never could—a sort of a tribute if you may.


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