In keeping with SAMHIN’s mission of greater dialogue on mental health in the South Asian community and to highlight the important work of others, we invited Anju Puri, a SAMHIN volunteer who is committed to helping others, to write about feelings of helplessness during loved one’s final moments.

Who will ever forget the uncertainty and confusion people at all levels experienced when the pandemic scare came upon the globe in 2020? A few months before the pandemic lockdown, my mom was placed into hospice care in the comfort of her home in Dallas, TX. Mom’s deteriorating health left me with limited choices in terms of her care. With her history of type 2 diabetes and the rapid progressive course of her Alzheimer’s amidst the pandemic, complications began to arise.

I will never forget the day I decided to fly to my mother’s home, two months into the pandemic. I had a greater desire to be with my mom during her last moments because I was unable to do this for my dad ten years ago. The thought of leaving my mom alone for even a few minutes in her condition scared me every day. I felt torn trying to balance my role as a wife, mother, and daughter. I was grateful for my family’s support and manager’s flexibility with my work schedule. After work, I spent the evenings with my mom, playing some of her favorite Indian hymns. Her empty eyes would simply gleam with love, but she never said anything. She no longer recognized me and was unresponsive, which was confusing and painful to witness as her daughter. She was bedridden and deteriorating by the day. Would you believe that she lived months without food and water? I strongly believe there was some strong divine intervention happening in our lives at that time. However, there were times I felt choked with feelings of fear, uncertainty, and helplessness. I want to share with you what helped me survive through this painful experience.

Coping mechanisms that helped me the most:

  • Journaling: I would openly spill out all my deeper emotions onto a paper. My notebook became my best friend when I worried the most during late nights. I feared that I would wake up and find her gone.
  • Connecting with people: It was important for me to express my feelings rather than suppressing them. I felt blessed to find more support from some of my close friends and co-workers.
  • Sunset walks: Stepping out for 30- 60 minutes a day to connect with nature made me feel refreshed.
  • Breathwork: I started to understand the power of breath and tried new techniques to relieve my stress. Life is nothing but what happens between your first and last breath.

My mom decided to take her last breath on September 7, 2022. She left peacefully with her loved ones around her. I had a good closure or so I thought did. The journey of grief is not easy at all; it is really devastating and different for everyone. I chose to speak about my grief journey to raise awareness about this topic. No matter what you feel, it helps to express, and seek the necessary support!

By Anju Puri
Transformation & Life-Purpose Coach
Corporate Trainer, Learning Tree International
SAMHIN volunteer

I invite your comments and I would love to hear about your grief journey.

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Featured image by Anju Puri