What to Expect, and Not Expect, When You Become an Orphan

My mom passed away this year due to a cardiac arrest. The last thing we spoke about in the afternoon while she was lying in the coronary care unit of the hospital was the driver. “Please tell the driver to return home, he has some work,” she said.

“I will,” I replied.

I left after telling her that her niece and colleague would be visiting her in the evening. Soon after, the situation became critical and she was put on a ventilator. She passed away at around 1:30 am.

There was no further conversation between us.

I stood still in the waiting area of the hospital. I was thinking about my dad. I realised that I had never really been prepared to let him go – I had lost him three years ago to lung cancer.

Three years later, my mom’s death came as an unexpected storm that battered my life. I didn’t know how to mourn. But with the passing of both my parents, there was no hiding from the valley of depression, anxiety, panic attacks and stress.

It is difficult for a single child to go through the excruciating pain of losing her parents. Having privilege doesn’t make it an easier cross to bear. There’s a hollowness that can’t be filled, no matter how many ‘treasures’ your parents left for you – none of it dims the anguish.

If you ask me, how does a loss of this magnitude feel? I’ll say it feels like someone ripped you apart, pulled out your heart and cut it into pieces. It will take you a lifetime to collect those pieces.

Also read: COVID-19: On the Death of My Nana Papa, and How the State Failed Him

But it is during these phases of life that people swarm around you and whisper thousands of condolences. Some mean what they say, others say it just for the sake of saying it. Some will assure you that they’ll ‘always’ be with you, but they will be the ones who’ll never reach out to you after the funeral. Some will lecture you and tell you to be a ‘strong woman’ – because they know they won’t be able to handle you if you aren’t. Some will pity you and they’ll always call you “bechari” when they talk to other people.

Many who are not in your followers list on Instagram will send you follow requests just to witness your mourning. They’ll wait for your ‘sad quotes’ posts eagerly. You’ll disappoint them by not sharing even a morsel of your mourning on social media.

Worse, there are some who go as far as to blame you for your loss: “You’ve been careless about taking care of your parents.”

Life is harsh without a family. It’s harsher when you’re already an introvert of sorts, and it’s difficult to give access to your vulnerable side to people.

Nevertheless, I’m seeking my purpose to live. Let’s hope, I complete my journey of life with a soul ‘Full of Faith’ and a ‘Heart of Steel’. Life is unapologetically unpredictable – all you can really do is hope for the best.

Jesil Dang is a class of 2020 MBA graduate, based out of Ranchi.