Diwali and Terrible Loneliness; I Miss You Paa
“Please I am having a lot of anxiety today. I cannot stop crying and I need help. Most of the therapists in my contact are on leave.”
After 20 minutes he showed up at the Holistic Living-Wellness Studio. From his eyes I could understand that he had been crying for hours and probably had a sleepless night.
I welcomed Gaurav with a kind smile and ensured that he feels comfortable and safe to open up about his feelings.
After 45 minutes he left feeling relieved, relaxed, and confident about handling his emotions and anxiety. The loneliness he felt faded away. I asked Gaurav if he could share his story with others because there could be many people in a similar headspace, especially during festive days like Diwali.
He readily agreed. This is Gaurav’s story of loss, grief, loneliness, and coping with the mixed emotions that come up when you are supposed to be happy but also struggling with it.
Diwali, birthdays, Christmas…they feel overwhelming to me because on these days I miss my paa the most. I remember when I was a child, he used to come with a bag full of firecrackers and he would go to marine drives and burst them.
I used to be scared of lighting the firecrackers but he would steadily hold my hand and give me the strength I needed to overcome my fear and burst them anyway. He would smile from ear to ear and click my pictures like he was trying to capture every little moment with me.
Diwali was really the best time for us. From making mithais, decorating the house with lights and flowers, buying new clothes, and just sharing a good laugh at the dinner table. These days have always filled our hearts with joy, love, and a deep sense of contentment.
And the best part about Diwali was always my father, my paa. He never said no for anything at all. Just one ‘please’ and his heart would melt. When I was a child, he used to make me sit on his shoulder and we would roam around the streets of Mumbai watching the lights.
My paa was my best friend.
He passed away in 2021 due to the COVID variant. It was a sudden death because nobody really saw it coming. His health was in good shape until one day he started complaining of breathlessness and then a week later he passed away on his way to the hospital.
Honestly, talking about it or even thinking about it makes my eyes swell with tears. I just miss him so much.
It is my first Diwali without him. We have not even lit a single diya yet and buying new clothes or just doing anything festive feels so pointless without him. His absence is like a huge hole in my heart and I know it could sound a bit crazy but I still look for him.
I feel that he would come out of his room with a big smile on his face shouting HAPPY DIWALI to each one of us or come home with firecrackers. And then when loneliness hits me, it gets extremely painful to manage my anxiety.
My mother and sisters are going through the same pain. I share my feelings with them but most of the time I feel like I should be strong for them so I hold back my tears. But sometimes it gets very very hard like how it got today.
It is the main day of Diwali and all the cherished memories of my father were running in my head and knowing that I could never live them again started giving me panic attacks. That is when I decided to talk to a therapist.
I am so grateful to Holistic Living because when everyone else was on a holiday they were available there. And the therapist I talked to made me feel super comfortable and for the first time in such a long time I felt okay with being vulnerable and expressing my emotions and just letting out my pain.
I was crying for 15 minutes in the session and it was not awkward at all! Instead, the therapist held a safe space for me where I could literally cry, say what I feel and just be myself. That itself really helped me to feel better.
In the end we did a 10-minute meditation together and that made me feel super relaxed and peaceful. Of course, the pain in my heart, my father’s absence and loneliness did not disappear completely but at least I found a little peace and stopped overthinking.
On my way towards home, I saw a little girl selling diyas. I decided to buy a few and light them up because I know that my father would have hated us to see so sad and lonely during Diwali.
I reached home and lit a few diyas, and then one near my father’s picture. It may be a simple gesture for others but to me it was a brave step towards healing and growing around the loneliness and grief I felt about my father’s death.
Festive days can get overwhelming, lonely, and stressful when you have lost your loved one. What I learned from therapy is to give myself time, kindness, and compassion to take each day at a time.
I realised that pretending to be strong all the time was only depleting my mental energy so now I am learning to accept my feelings as they come and give myself the time I need to heal and feel okay again.