Stories about grief

#TherapistDiaries: A hard worker is not the same as a workaholic – the latter is an addict

Farooq’s* work was a matter of utmost importance for him. He used metaphors like “battlefield”, “winning” and “war” when talking about work. He worked in the corporate sector and was at a higher level of the ladder. He sought therapy because all his subordinates hated him. He had a sense that his subordinates, who at some point were his colleagues, were jealous of his success and plotted against him all the time. Farooq was a workaholic, and his perfectionism drove not only his subordinates but his friends away as well. He took no offence in working overtime or even sleeping at ...

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#TherapistDiaries: Old age and the game of betrayal

The mere sight of my dad’s shivering hand gives me heartbreak. He has crossed 60, and hence the strength of his body keeps drifting away every once in a while. My mom, in her 50s, struggles with circadian rhythms due to her increasing age. Her screen time – YouTube and Facebook mainly – has increased in the past five years. She bonds with us and her friends over puppy videos and babies-gone-funny posts. There is an innate air of sadness about old age. We are powerless creatures in a number of ways. It is both, our infancy period and old age ...

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He was a broken chapter in her favourite novel

The footage said it was 9am when the car crashed – turned to nothing but blood and the smell of painted metals burning in the air. Two days, 18 hours and seven minutes later, on an icy November morning, Mark lay in a coffin, dead as a doornail. It was a small wooden box, with the lid clasped on its top with a neat hand. The initials engraved on it were those of Mark’s name and everyone at the funeral admired them at least once in secret, thanking the Lord no one could hear what they were thinking for fear ...

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From Delhi, with regret: How a postcard from India revived painful, unhealed memories of the Partition

From history textbooks and family accounts, we often hear about the intense emotions and trauma felt by those who were forced to leave their homes behind for a new country during the Partition of British India in 1947. These days, it is hard to truly understand those feelings when we are so far removed from the experience itself. But tangible, everyday artefacts from that era – like a simple letter exchanged between separated friends – can suddenly resurrect those devastating and unhealed memories. That’s precisely what happened when my mother was recently looking through old papers in my grandparents’ home in ...

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Another life lost to depression and yet we don’t consider mental health a grave issue?

Mental health should now be the top priority of every person wanting to function fully and maintain a healthy life. However, most of the world does not take this need seriously, and Pakistan is no exception. The country at large remains unaware of the importance of sound mental health, and while certain campaigns do address such issues, they mainly cater to a particular class. Bullying, depression, anxiety, and hundreds of other psychological conditions aren’t taken seriously here, as people believe they will disappear on their own or by prayer, or else the person will be treated harshly or ...

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For Neelum, life was only just beginning

Neelum sat by the window as rain spilled from an ashen sky. From the window, she saw a little girl, almost the same age as herself, scuttling in the rain with her father. She laughed as rain poured over her and her eyes twinkled happily. Neelum watched the little girl scurry down the street, with her father holding her hand protectively. Tears pooled in the corners of her eyes, and she crawled back into her grief of being an orphan. It was night, and the sky was full of stars. Neelum’s parents still hadn’t come back home. She felt sick with apprehension. ...

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Khalil never drank, until he did…

If there was something everyone knew about Khalil, it was that he never drank. And if there was something one could say with even more surety, it was that he especially never drank before his night shift. But tonight he had found some refuge in a bottle; a shelter from the illness of his wife, the mounting hospital bills, and the regularly decreasing amount of money he brought home. However, the newly-wed couple who had hailed his cab for the night were ignorant to the gloss in his eyes and the slur in his speech, as they put their ...

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When clothing brands profit from your grief

In this capitalist world, everything is for sale. Every season, every holiday, every occasion can be commercialised. Christmas Day sales, Black Friday, Thanksgiving sales, Diwali discounts, Eid collections; you name anything and there will always be a person making money off of it. In Pakistan, Eid and Ramazan are probably the most celebrated occasions, no surprises there since this country is the Islamic Republic after all. As soon as the month of Ramazan closes in, prices of food elevate to another level. From your fruit vendor to your butcher, everyone demands more money. And then there are of course those gazillion iftar ...

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Sanju’s triumph over his addiction should be celebrated, not trivialised

Addiction is a person’s psychological difficulty in the consumption of food, pornography and drugs or substances, among many other things. There are multiple theories to explain why people get addicted and the most plausible one is that addictive behaviours are a combination of heredity and the environment. That’s the reason that many people never get addicted or dependent on drugs and substances despite trying all kinds of stuff multiple times, while others get hooked to these merely in the first few interactions. Being a therapist, I have seen people and families facing all kinds of stigma for having any psychological ...

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When I lost my father and society lost its empathy

I would like to talk about something I feel very strongly about – empathy, or its lack thereof. Before I elaborate, let me tell you why I feel so strongly about it. My father was diagnosed with liver cirrhosis in April this year. In a span of a few weeks, I watched my strong, independent, confident father deteriorate in front of my eyes. We tried everything to try and find a cure but the disease had spread too far. Abbu left us a few months ago, in August. He was the backbone of our family and his death is something we are ...

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