Aditi Chaudhary is the courageous mother whose loss - losing her daughter to pulmonary fibrosis - inspired the movie, The Sky is Pink. Her character was portrayed by Priyanka Chopra in the movie. But does she feel courageous at all times? Absolutely no. "I wanted to kill myself," she says. "But God told me, you have to be here."
Aditi powerfully opened up about her vulnerabilities, her dark days, her loss, her grief, and how she's coping with it, at IMAGINE, a Children First annual initiative, in collaboration with The Teamwork Fine Arts Society, that brings together parents, teachers, psychologists, counselors, and therapist to IMAGINE a better world for children.
Even though her story, and that of her family is now being talked about globally, Aisha still can't stress enough on acknowledging the pain within, and as a family unit. In a conversation with Shelja Sen, a pioneering therapist and Founder of Children First, Ms. Chaudhary talked about the importance of therapy, and how to effectively live with grief.
Aisha Chaudhary, Activist and ParentI hope we as a family can acknowledge the pain. It's talking and listening that's going to cure us.
Here are the five important insights Aisha gave in her talk about grief, and losing a loved one.
1. Mental Health of Whole Family is Important
A family going through the loss of a loved one has mental health repercussions on the whole family. And Aisha says it's important to acknowledge the pain by talking about it. She's a firm believer in not bottling emotions within.
Aisha Chaudhary, Activist and ParentI wish I had more awareness of how a critically ill child can have an impact on the whole family. I think mental health work is so important when a family is going through any kind of strife.
Aisha also speaks about the need for a prime carer to take care of their own mental health. "I have learnt that the child who is ill will only do as well as the prime carer is doing so the mental health of the prime carer is of prime importance," she says.
In her case, Aisha says her mental health training helped her immensely in dealing with all the stress and anxieties of having a terminally ill child.
2. The Triggers Will Always Be There
For anyone who has ever lost a loved one, they will know that there are reminders, or rather triggers, of a loved one's memory every day. Whether it's by looking at another person, or looking at digital footprints, the triggers and pain will always be there. But even if you feel like crying, it's okay. Just do it.
Aisha ChaudharyHaving lost Aisha, the colour of someone's jacket can tip me off. Seeing a little child laughing up at her mother can tip me off. There are reminders every single day.
Aisha says sometimes when she goes for a walk in the evening, she starts thinking of how she and her daughter used to go for a walk on those same roads, and she starts crying.
"I carry on walking and I am howling away and I really don't care who sees me," she says.
Aisha Chaudhary, ActivistIf I am feeling weepy, I just weep. I weep in restaurants, I weep in cinema halls, I weep anywhere I feel like weeping. I really don't care. This is my grief and it's awful. I will have to learn to walk with it.3. Counting Your Blessings Adds Positivity to Life
Even though Aisha lost two of her children, Tanya and Aisha, she says she's blessed that she got to be a mother to two brave children. She says her husband too is hugely supportive, and counts that too as a blessing.
Aisha ChaudharyI am blessed that I knew Aisha, I am blessed that I had Tanya. I am blessed that I was chosen to be their mother. I am very proud that I had two children, who were very very brave. I have a son, Ishaan, and he's following his heart and I think it's a beautiful gift that he creates music.
"Coldness is the absence of light. The absence of positivity is darkness"
Aisha says no matter how dire our circumstances, we must never fail to look at the bright side.
Aisha Chaudhary.I hold on to Aisha's epiphany from her book that I must remember I am blessed and no matter how horrible your circumstance, I like to count my blessings4. Never Bottle Your Emotions Up, Try Therapy
Aisha speaks about how even though she looks fresh and cheerful on some days, there are days when she just doesn't feel like emerging from the void left by her daughters.
AishaI may look like this now. But tomorrow, I may be in bed, unbathed, for even three days/five days at a time. I cry a lot. It's very sad that my daughters are not here.
To make sense of her emotions, Aisha understood more about mental health, volunteered as a counsellor after leaving her software career job, and went to therapy a lot.
Aisha Chaudhary.I believe therapy is like personal growth. I don't think you need therapy as something you need when you become mentally out of balance. I really see it as a journey of personal development.5. The Grief Will Never Go Away; Learn to Live With It
Aisha says she finds it difficult to understand how people can tell her to simply move on from the loss of her daughters.
Aisha ChaudharyIt was much harder when I had just lost her (2015). People used to tell me time is a healer, and I used to snap at them as if nothing can heal me. But now, four and a half years down...I think... the grief doesn't change. But your life, without the child or without the loved one, starts to grow. And it kind of diminishes that (the pain), just by size.
But even as the pain diminishes, Aisha stresses, it never goes away.
Aisha Chaudhary , Parent And ActivistI just feel like grief - no matter who you lost, whether it's your grandparent or your husband or your child, it is like a stone in my shoe. I am going to have to learn to walk with it. It's going to hurt and that's alright. I think the whole concept of get over it now, move on is just ridiculous.
Grief is funny. Unlike happiness, it never really leaves us.
Aisha Chaudhary, Activist and ParentWith grief, it's always with me. I have to find a way to allow it a space within me and it's in wanting to get rid of it that it
But Aisha suggests a beautiful thing for anyone who is going through a loss. Let grief flow like a volcano, whenever it bursts. " If you can allow yourself to hold it, have it whenever it comes."
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