death and the pain of memories is like the tune played of the paino lingering
Personal Growth


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Death is like a bulldozer. It pummels and pounds you leaving bruises and scars in its wake. Some never heal from the wounds it inflicts.

The article Coping with Loss: Bereavement and Grief  in Mental Health America reports:

The loss of a loved one is life’s most stressful event and can cause a major emotional crisis. After the death of someone you love, you experience bereavement, which literally means “to be deprived by death.”

This is my story of death – the tidal wave of grief it unleashed and the end result of my personal transformation.

I took the advice of Joyce Hocker in Psychology Today. She advises the power of writing to heal. When:

the purpose of writing is to process the permanent loss of a beloved other, writing can heal the gaping identity wound of a loss.

My mother died on a Sunday. It was during the auspicious month of Purtassi, a time of strict vegetarian practice observed by Tamil speaking Indians.

          The song is ended but the melody lingers on… 
Irving Berlin


It was also the day homage is paid to Mother Saraswathi, the goddess of education.

Traditionally, a sweet treat is offered. Children also place their books at the shrine and the Om sign is written in honey on their tongues by a family elder.

We had always prayed together as a family on this day to Mother Saraswathi to guide us to success in all our academic endeavors.

The Sunday of her death, my mother broke this tradition. She prayed by herself.

Almost as if she was in a great hurry to be somewhere else and could not wait for us to join her in prayer.


Later, I discovered that the day of her death also marked the closing day of her Paduka prayer, where mantras are recited and flowers offered to the feet of the lord. 

Looking back, it is almost as if my mother chose the day and time of her death.

My mother had been doing, that Sunday, what she had done a million times before. She had walked up a few rickety steps to the compost heap in the garden to feed it with her latest vegetable scraps.

Something went very wrong on her way down …. the simple act of putting these words on paper now is ripping my heart up afresh.

She must have tripped or missed her footing – whatever – she fell tragically to her death. Her injuries were so severe that death was immediate.

Ironically, her posture in death was the same as in life – one of a devotee prostrating before God.

That picture of her lying dead on the cold, concrete, cement floor will forever be rubber-stamped on my heart.



It sounds so simple to say that my life changed that day. My mother had been my anchor and now I found myself adrift in a turbulent sea far away from shore with no hope of rescue. 

My mother’s body was escorted away from what had been her haven and refuge for nearly 47 years by the soothing chanting of the Gayathri Manthra.

A shroud of desolation and loneliness enveloped me. The words that taunted me were, ‘ What am I going to do now? How am I going to cope?’

 But God in His infinite wisdom only gives us what He knows we can cope with.

How blessed I am to have such a wonderful support structure. Family and friends flocked to offer support and love during this time of grief.  

In the midst of the busyness of rituals performed when a loved one dies and preparations for the funeral, my mother’s words rang repeatedly in my head, ‘ You must accept death. It’s a part of life. Instead, pray for the soul of the dead person. ’


The road ahead, in the light of her wisdom, was clear. I resolved, difficult though it may be to bear the loss stoically.

My father, who had spent 53 years with my mother, now had to face life daily without her. He would need my help to cope with the lonely years ahead. My son, who was 11 at the time, would also need support especially since he had been very close to his grandmother.

For the first time, the functioning of my little family rested squarely on my shoulders where previously my mother had borne its weight.

My mother was a typical Tamil woman in dress and conduct. She would dress daily in a sari and took great pride in nurturing her family with her delicious curries.


I seek refuge often in my memories of her especially, when cooking.

I’m filled with regret that our times in the kitchen cutting, chopping and dicing together were so few. That I did not enjoy more of the simple pleasure this kind of togetherness brings.

For the rest of my life, I will miss her cooking and baking.

I have her recipe books with countless recipes written in her own handwriting.

But I yearn for her to stand beside me and show me step by step how to make her vegetarian burgers.

I long for her to tell me how she got that dark color to her eggless fruit cake without brandy.

Once more, I would like our home to smell of her special bread rolls.

Thoughts of her pancakes and chiffon-like orange cake make me salivate now.

Oh, and her parathas – soft and flaky – to be eaten hot with butter and sugar – divine!

The list of mouth-watering sweetmeats she made at Deepavali is long – soft, sticky, spongy Gulab Jamun, melt – in –the – mouth laddus and delicate polis assail my taste buds now as I recall them.

I try to honor my mother in my own small way by making some of these sweet treats. Each attempt, though, is etched in the pain of nostalgia.

My mother was also an accomplished knitter. Over the years, she knitted hundreds of items from bonnets and booties to jerseys and socks.

The knitting kept her arthritic fingers flexible. I hanker today for the sound of the clicking of her knitting needles.


But it is in her spiritual discipline that my mother was a giant. Between the hours of 4h00 and 6h00, she would pray and meditate to her guru Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba.

This was followed by the reading of spiritual texts. She strived to implement spiritual values such as love, Kindness, forgiveness, and compassion in her daily life.


An only child, my mother spoilt me. Unlike most Indian girls, I did not learn to cook at a young age. In fact, few demands were made of me in terms of household chores. My domestic skills were almost zero.

When I was diagnosed with an auto-immune illness, I relied even more on my mother.

My job as a high school English teacher was stressful and energy-sapping. I was always tired, so my mother did whatever she could to help me ease my life in my non – working hours.

Her master plan was to nurture and nourish me with food. It was the only way she knew to ease the burden of living with a chronic illness.

The learning curve, with her passing, was sharp and hard.  But I’m pleased to say I survived it. In my most difficult moments, I feel her presence guiding me in the right direction, helping me to make the correct decision.

I found myself then, and still do, striving to emulate her – trying to be like her in all that I do.  She set the bar high so I am a work in progress, especially in the spiritual arena.

I have learned to accept that my mother’s death was God’s will. Who am I to question Him?  

I realize now that it was her will too.

Time has blunted the sharp sword of pain.

But the yearning to be in her physical presence again and to share with her the mundane minutiae of my life is always present.

Come back. Even as a shadow, even as a dream.

I thank God daily for gifting my mother to me!

Ma, what an absolute honor, it has been to be your daughter!


Death brings with it pain and trauma of such magnitude it would not be rateable on the Richter scale which is used to measure the strength of earthquakes. Click To Tweet

The path to emerge ok on the other side of grief involves denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally acceptance. And the agony is beyond the scope of any painkiller known to man.

Work was the therapy I needed to take my focus away from my loss and mourning.

I cannot tell you how cathartic the process of writing this article has been even though my loss took place nearly 10 years ago.

So, If you're in the throes of grief, start a journal to express your feelings. Pour out all your pent-up emotion onto the pages. Click To Tweet I guarantee you will be better for it.

Have you lost a loved one? What tips do you have to help with the healing process?  Tell me about it in the comments below.

If you enjoyed this post, don’t forget to share on Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook because information about how to heal after death needs to be spread.

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A former English teacher turned lifestyle blogger. Content creator for blogs and websites. Book lover, scrabble addict and crime show obsessor.


  • Sharon Green

    Thank you for this post! I’m approaching the 25 year anniversary of losing my mom. Looking back now I can see that’s when my depression started. Only through therapy have I been able to start openly admitting that. Recently I’ve started to journal and blog. It is soul therapy and it’s helping! Again, thank you for your post! {hugs}

  • Beth Elkassih

    Poovanesh, what a beautifully written piece! I was moved to tears myself reminiscing about the grieving of my own mother when she passed. It’s obvious she was a great Mother and role model for you! Thanks for sharing. Yes, writing is extremely therapeutic. Many blessings.

  • Nicole

    Poovanesh, your words are so powerful! Thank-you for sharing the story of your mother and her death. I am very close to my mother, and I fear her death more than I fear my own, if I’m truly honest. I can’t imagine my life without her to anchor me. Knowing that you have come through gives me strength to know that I will also…

    • Poovanesh Pather

      Thank you Nicole. It was a really tough time for me but I’ve weathered it. I also cannot imagine how I’ve managed for so many years now without her. The pain of the loss never goes away but you adjust to it over time.

  • Angela

    I have never lost anyone close to me but my mother lost her grandmother (who raised her) when my mom was 12. My great-grandmother’s death was tragic, her life was taken from her. My mom’s wounds are still so fresh. I can not imagine what it’s like for a child to lose their everything. Today, my mother is the strongest human I know. She persevered she did not give up on her own life. Yes, she carries baggage and I know her mental and emotional state was impacted by that traumatic experience but she is so full of life and hope and love. I think loss really helps you see the world differently in a good way? My mother vibrates at a more enlightened and spiritual level than those who have not experienced the type of pain she has. My mom kept journals to express her feelings, she readily spoke to therapists, she volunteered for different causes – this is how she’s been able to cope, grow and find happiness again.

  • Jen @ Jenron Designs

    I have lost both of my parents my mother 21 years ago and my father 15 years ago, and it really does change you. There is a growing up period that occurs when this happens, and your realize that you have no longer have a safety net, and you are on your own as a human. No parent to give unconditional love and support you no matter what, it makes you stronger and more self reliant even though it leaves a hole in your heart that can never be filled.

  • Cassie

    Thank you for sharing such a personal story and how you’ve dealt with this event in your life. I’m blessed to still have both of my parents, and don’t know how strong i’d be able to be during a trial like that.

  • Marijke

    It is really nice to see how you memorise and eternalise your mum in your article. I lost my mum when I was 20 so I can relate to many of your feelings of loss. It is a long time ago now but it is still a very raw feeling. You have actually inspired me to write something about my mum. It would be a nice thing to have for my kids who never knew my parents. Thanks for sharing and for your willingness to show your vulnerability.

  • Magesh Pillay

    What an absolutely beautiful tribute to an equally beautiful lady, Poovanesh. I am so blessed to have been a part of my Aunt’s life. I will treasure our memories for eternity.

  • Patty Scott

    Poovanesh, this post was beautiful and so full of rich descriptive, I feel I have met your mother and eaten her foods. You have honored her. She would be so proud to see you shine as you are doing.

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