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The pen is mightier than your thoughts

Nishtha Juneja tells you how writing a diary can keep the grief away

Anne Frank’s life would be incomplete without her diary. Where else would she vent contempt for her mother or express the insurmountable fear of being caught when in hiding, thinking each next day to be the last? It will be okay to say that she found a trusted friend in the diary, until it was passed on to her father after her demise. The diary became a friend who was non-judgmental, a friend who was patient; never asking her to hurry up with her stories and always turning up whenever she needed it the most. The pages of the journal soaked up her feelings, worries, fears and emotions. It also became an important instrument in tracking events leading up to the Holocaust; the diary became a historical gem.

Just like Anne, there are many who vent through writing; be it jotting unrhymed poetry, writing cathartic prose or penning mismatched lyrics. According to psychologists, expressive writing can reduce emotional distress.

And journaling is a powerful tool to deal with grief and loss. Professor and psychologist Mathew Lieberman did a study of 20 individuals who were asked to write for 20 minutes for four days, and later put on brain scan. Not only did half of them write about emotional experiences, these half experienced calming effects in the part of the brain that controls emotional feelings. Lieberman is a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Lieberman goes on to say that journaling helps more men than women since they face a block in expressing their feelings. But this does not mean that it only helps men, journaling helps anybody who is willing to take up the activity.

Mirroring this is Harsh Bhagwat, a media professional, who says, “I feel lighter after putting my experiences; either happy or sad, on paper. I feel a little less lonely. Furthermore, the events of life deserve to be chronicled.” He strongly believes journaling to be the solution for any kind of sadness. Harsh also tells us how keeping a journal helps him tracking his emotional pattern and gain an insight into his mind. “Once you read what you’ve written over a period of time, you understand the thoughts that trigger you into a downward spiral.” Even though Harsh works round the clock, he still manages to take time out to write, be it only for ten minutes.

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Even the vacuum he left behind is too precious to let go…

Khubi Amin Ahmed pens how she dealt with the loss of a loved one

As I sit to write a piece about me surviving the loss of my Nanu, my grandfather, my parent, my best friend, my confidant, my guide, my philosopher and more; I am not sure losing which of those hurt the most. It was an irreparable loss is all I know.  I am not sure – for the first time as a writer – how to pen this emotion down. I lost my paternal grandfather. That is just how blankly I can put it.

No one from my family had the courage to break the news to me. They waited for me to reach home and see it for myself. Once I saw him there – wrapped in white (a color he had always preferred), his face as peaceful as it always was – I can’t say what it felt like. I didn’t feel anything. I was numb. I probably cried. I have no memory. I remember feeling nothing. If that nothing qualifies as pain, I don’t know. I wonder if it was denial (one of the stages of grief).

I remember I held his face in my hands, told him to not leave me behind alone. That is me being as selfish as I had always been with him. I couldn’t believe he had left without meeting me. I don’t really remember any more of that day. Come to think of it, I don’t remember days after that. I think I kept sleeping in Nanu’s bed, wrapped myself in his blanket and tried to hold on to his essence for as long as I could.

One day, I remember being woken up and told that more than a week had gone by. I was reminded that I have a job and that I have to decide if I plan to go back to it. An aunt of mine also asked if I was ready to meet boys for my wedding. I remember not knowing how to deal with her.       

However bad the hurt and however devastating it may seem now, loss and grief they said is a part of growing up. We all lose people along the way and learn to accept it eventually. “Time heals all wounds.” “We are designed to recover.” “You need to move on.” “Let go.” All that and more was being thrown at me with much love and pity. While I trust their intentions, I could never get them to understand that it is the very thought of having to let go that is the most painful part! “I won’t let go of him I had said.” 

I still haven’t. I never will. Why would I want to let go of the most precious part of my life. I will cherish him and hold him close. I will keep him alive in my value system, in my beliefs. I owe him everything that I am today. I will live life like he taught me to. I will not let life weigh me down. I will live life to make him proud. He lives on in me, more than he does in his immediate kids. I will hold him close and keep drawing positivity and inspiration from him. He is the source of my faith and will always be. He is alive in me, and in my name.

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