The effect of death on your mental state

…is paramount.

I try and limit my blogging material to things that are jolly given that I am a grumpy person by nature, in real life if you will. Be that as it may, this place has become like an online diary outlet for topics that I no longer know how to articulate and communicate to the people around me. I’ll try not to waffle but I cannot make any promises so if you don’t like reading about potentially emotional matters then feel free to stop reading. I won’t blame you, in fact I understand why you wouldn’t want to be exposed to the negativity, that’s why I don’t watch the news. I’m kidding. I watch the news. Sometimes…

For a long time, a time that I evidently took for granted, I was not exposed to death and now it seems like people I know are dying on a weekly basis and honestly my heart brain is not quite sure what to do with this information or how to process so much emotion all at once. My first experience with death was my little brother, a still born baby. No one, and I mean no one, understands why I hold this event so close to my heart. Everyone and their mother, including my own, often tried to reason with me; not only was he a baby, but he was a baby you didn’t even meet, so how can his death affect you so?

My response? He was a baby I, a lonely only child for eight years at that point, waited for eagerly for nine months. I named him and planned everything that we would do together and rehearsed what I would say about my new brother to all my friends with siblings. I said goodbye to my mother when she went to deliver and stared at her blankly when she came back looking very ill, and noticeably empty handed. Explaining bereavement to children in the 90s wasn’t a thing so I didn’t understand what was going on. When they told me eventually, I didn’t cry, but I cried many, many times after that. I still think about him, he would have been twenty-three this April.

The next deaths that occurred were my great-grandmother closely followed by the death of her son. I was sad for sure but honestly, I vaguely remember being confused about a lot of what was going on and was mainly sad to see my mother sad. Years went by and death became this horrible thing that happened to relatives of people that I know, but never to me. I recall sitting in a coffee shop with a friend once and we were talking about death. I drew concentric circles on a napkin and told her that if I was the centre of that circle then the people I know that died only filled the outer circle i.e. were distant relatives.

This of course changed with the death of my grandfather a few years ago now. Those of you who have followed me for a while now will know him, either through my Nana Speaks Series (please take a moment to check it out, it is epic), or know of his death via a character in my Sinan and Leyla story. His death ordeal was sudden; like short but regular bursts of pain that you could not ignore. The night he passed away was honestly the first time I fully felt the transition of emotional to physical pain. The pain inside my chest for one, felt like the size of  an entire continent.

Anyway, in that same month, my grandfather’s two sisters passed away. I was beyond words, three sibling dying within weeks of one another, it was like the plot of a tragic family drama, but it was our reality. A few months later I lost a woman who was like a surrogate grandmother to me, this woman’s daughter, let’s call her Amy, then lost her husband two days later. This meant that in the space of two days, Amy lost her mother and husband. Two years later my surrogate grandmother’s husband, Amy’s dad, died.

Early on last year, war broke out in Yemen; that is where I am from originally and news of relatives passing away descended on us  like a tirade of shock bullets we were unprepared for. I felt like a chunk of my soul was extracted everytime I heard of someone I knew dying. I went on vacation recently and learnt that my cousin’s husband who had been battling cancer for a while had been admitted into hospital to help him see through his last days. Shortly after returning home, we received a call to say he had passed away. Yesterday evening, my mum’s aunt’s mother in law passed away.

This was not intended to be a post detaling how many deaths I have encountered. Rather, it was to illustrate that I really don’t know how to cope with so much death, my mind and heart are conflicted as to what to focus their energies on. The heart wants to grieve but the mind insists we keep on moving forward and then they fight and boy do I let them.

This post is also not a life is for living – savour every moment speech, because I claim to be no expert in how to live your life let alone how to heal your heart from the powerful impact of death. There is no solution to this matter at all, death will happen whether you want it to or not. I don’t want to spark debates on politics and religion. I don’t understand people who blame God for death, nonetheless I don’t try and change their feelings. Likewise, I expect them to understand that God is my sanity and  that belief will not budge so don’t try and blow that candle out for me- it will not make yours shine any brighter.

What prompted me to write this post, was when I heard that someone I know is being tested for cancer as we speak. Once upon a time, news like this would not have worried me and would have prompted an ‘it’s probably nothing’ response from me. After witnessing so much death lately though, I cannot help but think back to that sketch I drew of the concentric circles all those years ago. Without me realising it, death went from being a blurred concept that only happened in the outer circles to inching nearer and nearer to the centre, closer to home that I want it to be.

I pray this person gets an all clear and I invite you to do the same, send a prayer a happy though towards my person. I in turn, hope and pray that all the loved ones you lost are resting in peace and are granted the highest ranks of heaven, where we will see them again one day. If death is confusing you and robbing your sanity and peace of mind, if the thought of it creeps up on you when you least want or expect it to, know that you are not alone… I’m willing to bet there is more of us out there than we realise.


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  1. SubhanAllah sis, jazakAllahu Khairan for sharing this. Life is so short :/ may Allah swt allow us to live and die upon imaan, ameen.

  2. I know what you mean. The past year I’ve seen too many deaths too. And the feeling is, well, it’s hard to believe that it happened. I can only wish it’s easier for you to bear, and that the person you spoke of at the end gets well soon InShaAllah 🙂

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