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My Mental Health Evolution via Good Gracious Grief

👆 This is my dad in the picture. A real hero. A decorated veteran of the Indian Army. It's been painful to have witnessed my father's unexpected passing... more than the suddenness it was the way my dad died.

As the second wave of the #covid19pandemic hit India in 2021, the entire system in the country went into a disarray...a collapse if you may stemming from an absolute irresponsible response of the government and medical ecosystem that was not equipped to meet any contingency whatsoever.

My Dad was the unfortunate victim and his death was sudden. I was by his side in his last breath. The hospital I got him admitted to refused to provide him with lifesaving medical oxygen and I helplessly watched my dad gasp for breath while I begged the hospital staff and made frantic calls to people and family to help. No help came at the right time. Every second mattered and every second was lost in the abyss of powerlessness.

The pain of feeling responsible for my dad's death and my inability to help him in his moment of need is a feeling I'm living with. It's not a great feeling, I can vouch for that. Obviously, it's taken its toll and I narrate it in much greater detail in my yet-to-be-published book about where my grief led me to. A dark place. It's taken an incredible effort to come out of that darkness.

My mental health declined considerably in 2021. I reached a point where I would either spiral into a bottomless pit of despair or climb up the ladder of hope.

This is where my mental health evolution began.

My dad had a huge influence on me. He lived by example. A man of high ideals and principles. Honest and simply a great human being. He had compassion and empathy for everyone. I thought over how I could remember my father and keep his memory alive.

Words have power and presence. Definitely the surest way to create a legacy in upholding the memories of a loved one as well as coming in terms with any loss. We use our mind to perceive. Our hearts expand that perception. When we say we've made up our mind, we believe it's limitless power, it's absolute resolve to create #change not just for ourselves but also for others. Our hearts then open to the floodgates of #compassion which we can take and give in equal measure. My heart and mind expanded when I started writing about my grief. In a way, I was addressing my mental health challenges.

Just writing about my dad made me feel good. That's why when I started writing the book-cum-journal, Good Gracious Grief, I felt my dad was around me all the time.

Whatever we choose to write, or speak about, remember It has a #therapeutic effect on us. When we talk about those we have lost, share their stories, we give ignition to the shared and lived memories. We react the same way as we would if they had been around! Memories are indeed treasures and last a lifetime. I began collecting memories scattered around in different places. This could be anything from old photos in forgotten family albums, social media posts, even the places my dad used to love visiting and food he loved eating. His favorite things became my favorite things.

I choose to use my pain and grief of the heartbreak to fuel my larger purpose. My purpose is to use communicative healing and reach out to people going through a challenging time, trying to cope with mental health concerns. I'm glad I can be the enabler, the carer and the friend someone needs right now.

There is light to be found, but we must be willing to look. We need to be reminded that:
LOSS can be turned into HOPE.
PAIN can be turned into HEALING.
LONELINESS can be turned into LOVE.
ISOLATION can be turned into COMMUNITY.
WORRY can be turned into CELEBRATION (of life).

---Amit Anand

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