Bereavement Week Series: Jyothy’s story

Personal Stories | November 18, 2021 | Dying With Dignity Canada

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A photo of Jyothy

November 16 is National Grief and Bereavement Day. In recognition of this important day we are sharing a series of stories submitted by DWDC supporters about their grief and bereavement experience and process. For some, writing down the memory of a loved one is part of their bereavement process, for others reading the stories is comforting. We hope you find solace in the stories shared in this series.

This is Jyothy’s story.

My best friend had just turned 14 years old when she died. We had met a few years before; as the only two people of colour in our seventh-grade class, we shared a bond of both knowing what it felt like to be the “outsider”, and we shared a similar cultural background and core values. We both loved reading, creative writing, and discussing popular culture. I recall that she was amazing at math. Her dream was to become an aerospace engineer and I wanted to find a career in healthcare. She would help me with understanding math concepts, and I would be able to put into words what she needed to say for a story or a poem she was writing for class.

Her death was an absolute shock to me and everyone that knew her. She and her parents were murdered on the night of June 5,1992, by the hand of her only brother.

I was devastated. I was consumed by insurmountable grief, and the guilt of being alive when she had passed. Her whole family, including her brother, had come over to my house two weeks before to celebrate my 14th birthday and I had noticed his odd behaviour but did not think twice about it. He was 17 years old at the time, and I thought he as being a “normal” male teen.

I attended a memorial at her school which helped me to process some of the grief and share it with her close school friends in her eighth-grade class. My parents had no clue how to deal with this kind of situation, and in hindsight, it is tough for any parent to know how to console their child’s grief due to a murder.

After graduation, I saw my Guidance Counsellor and began attending a support group in my new high school. This helped me to open up about my grief and be present for others who have also suffered a loss in their life.

In retrospect, I wish I had someone who checked in on me regarding my mental health during the beginning of my adolescence. I was newly 14 years old, and in addition to hormonal and physical changes that were happening to me, I was also facing a huge emotional blow; one that adults do not know how to cope with on their own.

After all these years, I have gotten used the “crater” Deepika left behind. I still feel sadness when I think about her because her life was snuffed out before she got to live it fully. She would have been an excellent aerospace engineer, woman, friend, and anything else she wanted to be and do in her life. She will always have a place in my mind and heart. Although the acute devastation of losing her has passed, she changed my perspective on the fragility of life. I have learned to live in the moment and not worry about the distant future because we can never predict what will happen tomorrow.

Something I would like to tell other people experiencing loss is that it is a process which is uniquely individual to each human and take your time going through all the stages of grief surrounded by others who have compassion, time, and patience to walk alongside you. You are not alone, and you will figure out how to move forward in your own way.

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