The grief of the loved one is a difficult period owing to the eternal separation. However, grief following a tragedy of the entire family is more consuming threatening to pull an individual apart if they are strong enough. It is such a tragedy that befalls Sheila in Bharati Mukherjees The Management of Grief. Centering her story around the air crash and aftermath of Indias flight 182, in 1985, Mukherjee shows Sheila Bhave and Indian-Canadian Hindu migrant loose her two sons and husband to the tragedy. Being torn between the Canadian and Indian cultures, the tragedy drives her to the verge of desperation. However, through the adoption of better grief management strategies, Sheila copes this tensions without being completely pulled apart.
In the initial phase of grief, Sheila uses rejection and detachment as an effective strategy to comfort her self. Here she remembers things she said and never said on her lover to the deceased. This does not only comfort her but also helps her to realize the self-something that brings her comfort. For instance, Sheila comes to term with the fact that the relationship with her husband was not satisfactory. This detachment gives her comfort during the initial phases of the grief through denial and preventing too much emotional outpour. The fact that she never brought to his attention their love forms a hiding place for her in grief. In addition, she comforts her by the fact that she was not at ease to call him her husband. In grieve management, such aspect leads to the rejection of the death or detachment of association with them. Whereas it has a dire long-term consequence. In the short-term, it is an effective strategy I morning and grief that prevents a person from collapsing to the whole aspect of the tragedy.
I never once told him that I loved him, I say. I was too much the well-brought-up woman. I was so well brought up I never felt comfortable calling my husband by his first name.P 234
Another strategy that greatly helps Sheila to overcome the grief of the tragedy is adequate mourning. Despite the detachment and rejection of her love to her husband, Sheila adequately mourns for him and her two sons. Mourning through friends and family, Sheila easily achieves acceptance that she loved them and they are going. In the mourning mood, she strives to establish the cause of death and the way they died. Partial satisfaction is achieved through the visitation of the clash point and meeting with other people who had relatives in the crash. The fact that they could have died very fast without much pain also plays a great role in her mourning. She strives to look for ways things could have happened. Sheilas mourning is probably made complete for her deep roots to the culture.
The author shows various culture components in both the Indian society that makes her mourn successful. Her path in mourning in culture leads her to self-identity in the crisis that she finds herself In our culture, it is a parents duty to hope 235. Besides, the indulging the cultural aspect in her mourning enables her to conquer the spirit of isolation evident in the earlier phase of her grief. The accumulation of these leads to her self-discovery. The last element of her mourning that makes it a strategy is religious involvement. As a strong Hindu believer, Sheila believes in the will of God to do some things. Besides, as she visits the bodies for identification she knows of the fact of the afterlife. It is a combination of these that make Sheila holistic mourner thus overcoming the tragedy.
Then, on the third day of the sixth month into this odyssey, in an abandoned temple in a tiny Himalayan village, as I make my offering of flowers and sweetmeats to the god of a tribe of animists, my husband descends to me. He is squatting next to a scrawny sadhu in moth-eaten robes.P 237
In overcoming the tragedy, the social links with people near her and specialist play a key role towards a healthy recovery. at the onset of the story, it is evident that Sheila mourns at home with relatives the people she is closer. For instance, the author describes her to be grieving alongside a neighbor. Psychologists and nurses articulate the fact of grieving among the family and community members as a health aspect that is always associated with quick recovery. This aspect enables sharing of the issue that often leads to earlier acceptance. Through the virtue of this, Sheila passes the burden from herself to the community that could comfort her for a longer time. Other people like a friend and community members form a social bond that takes a huge share of the burden of the tragedy that could be associated with the quick recovery that Sheila achieves. However, Sheila does not only rely on family members and relatives but also looks up to professional expert. Sheila looks up to Judith Templeton a social worker in the neighborhood for guidance. She offers her services especially in that part of grief where she was seeing images and hearing voice. It is through her help that Sheila is able to recover from these hallucinations. Templeton also teaches her on the process of grief emphasizing the importance of achieving acceptance. With proper social coordination from the friends, relatives, neighbors community and the specialist Sheila achieves adequate recovery from this tragedy.
Sheila also uses sharing as a critical strategy to get rid of the depression associated with grief. Sharing forms a critical part in getting in term with bereavement especially with the loved ones. Whereas this strategy is no very effective in the initial phases of grief, it the latter phases of grief it makes the family and other members accept death and move on in life. Sheila meets with various people who have lost their loved ones and they share their experiences. Sheila shares with other families who had lost their loved ones in the crash getting the burden off her chest. She is openly accepting an invitation to talk to others as a model for the grieving families. The sharing step forms a very big step to her recovery from the tragedy. The bad night vision on the death of the loved ones and shapes starts to dwindle. Furthermore, the night voices that threatened the squirm her starts to fade. For Sheila, factors like the Canadian culture she is not acquitted to do not deter her from reaching to people. To achieve a peak in overcoming the tragedy, she does not only share but also listen to others in both groups and individuals. With the help of Judith, Sheila is able to meet various victims of the tragedy who readily shares their life. It is through such sharing that makes her overcome the dire effects of grief evident in the story.
She asks me to help with families she cant reach at all. An elderly couple in Agincourt whose sons were killed just weeks after they had brought their parents over from a village in Punjab. P 245
The final and effective way of grieving over the strategy is through seeking for reconciliation with the past and accepting to move on. At the heart of the crisis, Sheila moves to India for over in an attempt to overcome the tragedy. However, at 36 she fails to fit her rich family. With his richness, the father gives her everything but it does not form a sufficient for her. She also goes to other places like Ireland but all in vain. Eventually, after six months of moving about, she comes to terms with the fact that she has to complete what they started together. She returns to Canada. the sense of connection between the families of the victims of the crash makes her reconcile to the community. Showing that she is past the tragedy, she takes a course to advance herself and facilitate self-care. She also reconciles with the government realizing it works effortlessly to ensure that community members accept the loss and move on in life. She realizses that the government wishes to give money, not take 234.Whereas she pointed fingers at the government, it plays a noble role in overcoming its errors.
In India, I become, once again, an only child of rich, ailing parents. Old friends of the family come to pay their respects. Some are Sikh, and inwardly involuntarily, I cringe. My parents are progressive people; they do not blame communities for a few individuals. P 240
Indeed, the Sheila did a lot to overcome the grief brought about by the tragedy. Her belief and hope were tested but her brevity brought her to at the verge of collapsing. By composing herself through the uses of various strategies Sheila overcomes the tension that should have pulled her part in what Mukherjee describes as ideal grief management. She finds piece and readily reaches acceptance to resume her life despite the long lasting fact that her husband and two sons have been robbed from her in a tragic air crash. she balances between social, cultural and religious virtues to overcome this tragedy that threatened to pull her apart.
Mukherjee, Bharati. The Management of Grief. Best American Short Stories 1989. Ed. Margaret Atwood and Shannon Ravenel. Houghton Miflin, 1989. pp. 230-246.
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