Just Another Thought: Does and Should Grief Hit Us the Same Way?


Being a movie buff all my life, I’ve surprised myself over the past year and a half by hardly wanting to watch a film. Yes, I do love watching movies in a theatre but I have no qualms of watching it on TV or on the computer and with Netflix running all the latest movies it is really unlike me to not want to watch anything at all. And then it happened! I forced myself to be normal (read my old self) again. I was hoping for some company but none seemed interested so I picked out a movie called “Pagglait” after my husband’s review and affirmation that it didn’t have a sad ending. I just cannot stomach tragedies anymore.

The movie begins on the day after the funeral of a young man who has just been married for five months. The setting is of his house, where his parents are visibly distraught with grief having lost their flesh and blood and then there are the others including the young widow (played to perfection by Sanya Malhotra) who is busy scrolling and making a mental note of the number of comments on the Facebook post informing of her husband’s demise. The movie is brilliant in its realistic portrayal of what happens in a middle-class household typically in an Indian set up, following the Hindu tradition. Chances are it is the same story everywhere give and take a few different rituals and a few different reactions, some more positive, others negative. I won’t give the movie away and for those who can get their hands on the movie, do watch it.

This movie was different. Very real and certain portions were dealt with a lot more maturity than we have seen in the past which is also an indicator that we as a society are evolving and are broadening our thinking. This was really heartening. Some issues were treated with humour to get very important messages across. There are certain rituals that are blindly followed and while I don’t question the learned souls of the past who made these rituals, it is unfortunate that over the last few generations, many of us have no idea why any of it is done. In fact, very few elderlies remain who even know what is to be done exactly or the why behind it so they have an air of authority which seem to convey “because I say so” as an answer to the “whys” behind it all.

Again, this brings me to a very valid portion of the movie which to some, might seem scandalous, to others funny, and a huge relief to me, because I have asked my mother this very same question and she seemed horrified and shushed me up. The part when the young widow declines an offer of tea but asks for Pepsi instead and her mother who has just reached to comfort her is shocked and whispers that it was inappropriate to ask for it. So, she quickly agrees and declines her need for anything. Later on, she remarks to her friend that she could neither feel grief and had a ravenous appetite and hunger. This is what I had asked my mother after witnessing a few funerals especially one closer home. What if you are the type that eats more in grief and the people around you expect you to have no hunger? Why even if you aren’t the kind who eats more in crisis, after starving twelve long hours, you are entitled to being hungry and need to eat!! There are a whole lot of family members who say things like “Oh! How can she eat now? Even a morsel wouldn’t go down her throat” and so the little morsel that she picked up to eat was put down because she was expected to not want to eat it! Inhuman! I have witnessed it. I have been so annoyed. Your loss is one thing but your body doesn’t need to go into suicide mode. It needs fuel (I mean food lest you believe I am aiding suicide!!).  

Secondly, why is there a need to cry dramatically with everyone who comes to meet those in grief? There is also a need to want to console the grieved person so they say triggering things to make them cry. Wouldn’t you rather be left alone to cope with your loss, especially if it is an unexpected one? It takes time for one to believe and comprehend what one is seeing. There are various types of defense mechanisms. We cannot be expected to act in the same way. It shocks and pains me to see people walking to meet the aggrieved person crying, hugging every new person that walks in, sobbing with each and quickly settling down for a happy chat after that, amidst fault finding of course!

I still remember a dear friend of mine who had to go through this misfortune in her life and to this day I am so proud of her for passing the word around that she wished to see no one but a select few people and she wanted to mourn for her beloved by herself and with those whom she believed were important to him. She did meet the rest when she was ready for it. It would have created a scandal in hush hush tones, but who cares really?

When a person is suddenly faced with a life changing, devastating event, they have to learn to cope with their shock, their grief of losing someone they expected to live their life with, take charge of the young and the old (as the case may be) and work out so many details in their head, that it is daunting. The last thing during this crisis is to want to follow social norms and protocols. This is a sensitive matter. There are people who turn up because that’s the right thing to do and that don’t want to be marked absent, others want to see what’s happening so they have firsthand gossip and yet some more who are deeply shaken and want to support. To be kind to all, even the first two sets of people would be ready to help but what one must understand is, that the need of the hour is to facilitate the normal functioning of the household without being obtrusive; with least visibility. Allow the deeply affected person/persons space to heal, to choose whom they want around them and respect those wishes without taking it as a personal insult. Each person is wise enough to know where they stand with the person in question and depending on that, one must be able to decide when to show up to offer condolences. Listen to your heart and not to your “this is the right thing to do” mind.

Grief hits us in many ways and due to many circumstances but when someone leaves our world for good, the people affected have this feeling of a huge void; it is an irreparable and irreplaceable loss and only time can heal wounds. Each and every one of us will go through it at some point in our lives, so let us be compassionate to those around us who are going through this sorrow by understanding their needs and acting in accordance. Also, in the future, when faced with a similar crisis, do not hesitate to allow yourself time to grieve and mourn in silence. And, it is MORE THAN OKAY to eat!!




  1. Well written... rightly targets the pseudo behaviour in our society prevalent at times of such tragic events.... genuine feelings of love and care is all that is required in such times, let's follow this guideline and pass the same as 'elders' to the next generation.

  2. Firstly... This is surreal, next to impossible... Not making this up but i watched this movie yesterday, was suggested to me by my husband and exactly your words what resonated within me!
    Now, back to your blog, you are absolutely right when you say that we all have different ways of living the emotion of grief and loss. We must stand by each other in such moments, even if it means to respect boundaries and give space.
    I remember, long back, a distant aunt lost her young daughter to cancer. She politely and firmly made it clear to all relatives that she does not want any mourners to visit her. She needed space, time and even though some relatives felt unimportant yet they all respected her need to heal in solitude.
    You should write often. You always strike a chord by writing thought provoking blogs. Thank you.

    1. What a coincidence! Then again, don't we know better soul sister! I agree! Thank you so much too :)

  3. Such a wonderfully juxtaposed piece! A movie review and a very important point rolled into a blog..
    I think the main issue lies in the fact that though we love to preach the concept of ‘live and let live’ we don’t really practise it! We are just so opinionated and judgemental as a race.. We are like horses with blinkers.. and we tend to forget that each and every person has their very own way of dealing with the situations they are faced with.. be it happy or sad! The sooner we realise it.. the better it is for mankind!
    P.S. ‘Pagglait’ has duly been added to the must watch list after this read! 🤗

    1. Thank you confabulations_anonymous! You said it! The need to control everything is so strong and of course, the "I know best" attitude! And yet, there is change that is taking place albeit slow and I am grateful for it.
      I'd love to know what you think of the movie! :D


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