Trigger warning: This post will discuss topics such as suicide, depression and bereavement. Please practice self care when reading this post. If you feel that these topics may trigger you, please click on any other of my blog posts.
It’s been quite a tough few weeks. The world has seen a huge loss of life in the Turkey-Syria-Lebanon earthquakes, the war in Ukraine continues and sadly I experienced a type of bereavement I never thought I’d ever experience. The naivety of that latter assumption pretty much sums up my ignorance on the matter, but I hope to educate myself more on it. After all, this blog was formed to share my thoughts, I hope to showcase my growth in understanding such topics.
So you’re probably guessing what the topic is.
Sadly, last month, my uncle took his own life after battling a period of depression. It is extremely difficult writing this as someone who creates content on mental health and wellbeing.
I found myself retracing my thoughts thinking, where did I go wrong? Could there have been something that I could have done to help him? How do I support those he was closely related to (siblings)? How do I stop the cycle of trauma to continue and affect the ones he left behind (his children, nieces and nephews? How do I help my father deal with the loss of his younger brother?
How do I process this?
It will be a month this week since I heard the news. As many of you that have dealt with grief may have already experienced, grief comes in waves. I often find myself bursting into tears at random moments when I am reminded of my loss, the loss of my family and extended family. The reality that this issue was a secret battle for such a while. Thinking about the pain he must have been in.
Shock, confusion, sadness.
And then the anger sets in. Anger at the world, anger at people, anger that more should have been done. More could have been done. I find myself frustrated at the lack of awareness, the lack of diagnosis and treatment options available. If he had lived elsewhere in the world (other than in the sub-continent), could they have survived? So many questions.
I also felt shock at the idea of not being transparent about the cause of death. The taboo of suicide within south-Asian culture. The idea that the taboo could have made the issues worse for my uncle; feeling like he couldn’t be open about how he felt without alarming those around him. But again, no resources were available.
I found myself searching for local treatment centres local to him. I found nothing of the sort, which added to my anger. There was no help available to him. “He must have felt so alone.” – a thought that kept me up the nights that followed his funeral.
“But this was God’s plan.”
As someone who believes that God has ownership over every single being, and that nothing is really “ours”; nothing in this world except our deeds and wrongdoing is ours. I feel a sense of contentment.
Something that has helped my family and I deal with the loss is remembering the goodness that my uncle left. The memories that we cherish. The support he offered to those in his village, the acts of kindness and charity he offered through such selflessness. Acts of kindness that have inspired me to continue that legacy of selflessness and kindness.
Educating myself on the matter of mental health, suicide and Islam. Understanding and sharing the real cause of death helped me to start conversations about suicide at work and with friends, speaking to colleagues that shared their experiences of suicide. Friends they lost, cousins and for some, nearly their parents.
I don’t think I will ever understand the true reasons why it happened. I guess that is the nature of mental health. Sometimes there is no reason other than the fact that a person was extremely unwell from a disease which consumes so many men around the world.
The fact is that it happened, and this is something that I will always be open to talk about. No matter how painful it is. More harm is being done by not talking about this, particularly in the Muslim and the South-Asian community. Please reach out to your loved ones. Life is too short and in a world where we are both so connected and disconnected at the same time, reaching out is ever so important.
This will always be something I will find difficult to accept. I will get there in time, but sharing my thoughts and feelings about this heart-breaking subject has really helped me over the last few weeks. Therefore, I found it important to share it on my blog.
I wanted to end this week’s blog post with two things.
Firstly, a memory I will always cherish with my uncle during my last visit to Pakistan. He had the best smile! I will never forget the mission he set himself to find the breakfast cereal Cornflakes in the little village of Phularwan, after my brother and I told him it was the only thing we ate for breakfast (we were 7 and 8) – complete brats, I know! He went on his bike, went from shop to shop and came back with a box of the very finest the next day. I was too young to really appreciate his gesture, but after being reminded of this memory by my brother, it brought a smile to my face. He was always willing to go the extra mile (quite literally).
Secondly, a memory of a friend from uni who I lost last week. I will always remember her laugh and her smile. It was so unique. I will always laugh when I am reminded of the Isle of Dogs and her trying to explain to me where that was. The hilariousness of that conversation summed up your light-hearted nature. T, Thank you for reminding me of the important things in life; laughter, friendship and faith.
If you’ve made it this far, please take a moment to pray for my uncle, my friend and all those that have lost their lives. May they be granted the highest ranks in Jannah (heaven) and may their loved ones come to terms with their loss. Many Allah use their struggles and pain as a means to expiate their sins. May we be reunited with our loved ones. Ameen.
If you’ve been affected by any of the topics mentioned in this post and would like to access help. Please find some useful links below.
If you find yourself in an emergency and require urgent help. Call 999 or visit an urgent treatment centre or A&E.
- Samaritans – a free, confidential helpline if you or someone you know is in need and would like to speak to someone urgently- Call 116 123
- Click here to find out about various Mental Health Crisis Helplines in England