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A Covid Lament

So much death

Every hour, every day

We hear news left and right

She’s passed on, he’s gone

Their family got the virus

Our family has tested positive

I don’t dare to pick up the phone

Lest it’s another gut wrenching update

I don’t want to check whatsapp groups

Lest it’s another acquaintance getting infected

Where can we turn?

Who can we go to?

Astra Zeneca, Pfizer, Moderna?

Billions are scrambling for all of those

How are we going to mourn

When this is all over

If this will be over

Who will be left?

How much more can we stand

Burning in this hot mess

Before we too stumble and break

How much longer?

Written July 2021

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9 Free to Low-Cost Ways to Deal with Grief

Oky and me at a Chicago Symphony Orchestra Concert, May 2018

On this date, 16th of June 2019 (2 years ago) my dear husband Oky Kusprianto crossed a street and was hit by a speeding motorcycle. He got thrown several meters into the air, hit the ground on his head, and died almost instantly. We never said goodbye. Not that it would have made this kind of forced separation easier.

My life has since then been turned inside out. The moment I got the news, I knew my life would never ever be the same. I would never be the same.

In the span of a short two years however, I noticed at least 2 friends about my age (in my our thirties) being widowed suddenly. One was widowed when her husband died of a heart attack. Another one became a widow when her husband died of Covid-19.

Deal with Grief

Grief and death is everywhere. Sometimes, it’s just around the corner, a lot closer than we expect. Sometimes it comes slowly, the slow motion of a deteriorating ill body. Either way death is imminent, and grief lines our daily schedule. Yet, who really knows how to deal with it? Therapists help, but in the end it is you yourself who will have to swim through the currents of memories and pain.

So this resource is dedicated to all of you out there who know what it’s like to lose a loved one. More of you deal with grief than you let on, I’m sure of this. In the free ebook, I share some of the ways I dealt with my grief. Most importantly, they’re free to low-cost ways.

Oh I’m sure there are lot of expensive ways also, but sometimes we just can’t afford it. This ebook is for those of you that are caught in the thick of grief, with not very much money to spare. I hope this will help you go through your journey.

Download 9 Free to Low-Cost Was to Deal With Grief here.

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A Discussion on Coping with Grief

Last week I had the honor to be featured on Grace Tahir‘s Iso-Late Show Episode 30 with Grace Tahir and Intania Fajar from Janda Becanda (The Widow Jokes) Podcast. It was a rainy afternoon with bad internet on my part. The discussion on coping with grief was solid though. I didn’t know Tania (Intania’s nickname), and she didn’t know me, but we connected through our mutual experiences.

So many people have experienced losses recently. Thus I share some of our key takeaways with the hope that it will help readers who are processing grief.

Key Takeaway 1. Instinct before sudden death.

Some people have an instinct that their loved one is about to die. This was the case with Tania. She was in Manila, and Joel (her husband) was in Hong Kong about to fly to Manila when he got into an accident. He died in the Hong Kong airport. Tania was with her mother-in-law, and at that exact moment, she had an urge to call Joel.

This was not the case with me and Oky’s death. Oky crossed a road (on foot), got hit by a motorcycle going 90km/hour, and died there. It came as an absolute shock to everyone.

Key Takeaway 2. Five stages of grief.

The five stages of grief according to Kübler-Ross model are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. I didn’t go through the five stages of grief (mainly because I didn’t know what they were at the time). But I knew I was ANGRY. Even now, I’m still angry because the whole situation involved irresponsible people and corrupt authorities.

Tania believes strongly in destiny. “The good die young-Joel was as good as good can be, so he went young,” she said. Tania was very sad but there was no denying it. Joel died end of 2008, so it will be 12 years by the end of this year. And the feelings are still coming and going.

“The good die young-Joel was as good as good can be, so he went young,” she said.

Intania Fajar, Janda becanda podcast

Key Takeaway 3. Loneliness.

For Tania, that’s one of the main themes in Janda Becanda Podcast: that feeling lonely is not an experience exclusive to widowhood. We’re in quarantine now so many people feel lonely at this time. It’s always good to know how to cope with feeling lonely.

For me, there were two moments in which I felt utterly alone. I just felt an absolute darkness and I did not even know what to think. This mainly had to do with the circumstances surrounding Oky’s death with the crime and corrupted police and law officials of Bandung. At that time I reached out to some mentors and they helped me with frameworks of thought.

Key takeaway 4. Annoying messages from people.

For me, it was tiring because so many people continuously asked what happened. However, I would rather have people asking than telling me how to react. Many people told me to “forgive”, or “move on”. That was incredibly annoying because they said those words without any idea of what I was going through.

For Tania, there were some fundamentally rude questions that people asked her. She refused to even repeat it because it was so unsympathetic. Some people that didn’t even know her or her husband started asking questions simply because they wanted gossip material.

Key Takeaway 5. Support systems.

Tania had a very strong support system. The moment her family found out, they dropped everything and flew from Jakarta to Manila. By maghrib (evening prayers) that day, they were already able to be with her. They showed the same support during her divorce from her second husband.

I stayed tactfully silent because this is at the heart of my issue with my parents. (Look forward to future writings…)

Key Takeaway 6. Ways to cope.

Journaling was one of the ways I coped with everything that happened. From my journaling habit, the exhibition and book Sketches and Regrets was born. Not to mention this blog, my poems, short stories, and hopefully more books to come! A practical tip from me includes a breathing technique called box breathing to help stay calm in extremely stressful situations. Another tip is to be committed to taking care of your body: drink a lot of water, go on walks or routine exercise, get enough sleep, and eat well.

For Tania, it is important to have other aspects of life to be able to focus on. Career, work, and other creative projects. Her late husband was an amazing person and she honors it, but life has to go on, especially because at the time she was responsible for a 1,5-year-old baby. There are also many resources out there including the Janda Becanda community that she created.

The complete interview is available on Grace’s Instagram channel (it’s mostly in Indonesian, with English sentences here and there). I hope this article helps to make the contents of our conversation accessible to more people.

With special thanks to Grace Tahir.