Grief is the most intense emotion a human can feel.  The trauma before and after is something that feels unbearable.  Grief kills your soul, kills your will to be who you once thought you would become.  I don’t see the “light at the end of the tunnel”, there is no such thing for me right now.  The life we built, we were so proud of, has come to an end.  Rehan and I were always dramatic, so it’s only fitting that he left us in the most tragic way.  We lived an extraordinary life and now I don’t know what to do.  Forget that I don’t even know who I am. I can’t make sense of anything that has happened this past year.  I play it in my mind all day all night. When Rehan was diagnosed, I fell to my knees and I begged, bargained, and pleaded with God.

July 9, 2022….

Rehan died.

I am 44. Rafae is 10.  How could he die? Why was he sick?  Why couldn’t we have had this year and God just take him on the date he was supposed to?  Why am I a WIDOW?!

Answers I will never receive and something I never imagined for myself, for my son Rafae, or my husband Rehan.  We were supposed to “make it”, that was supposed to be our reward for the sacrifices we had made.  Granting me the Scarlett letter W, a badge of grief, that was never part of our “plan”.

I feel enveloped by grief, I can’t move, breathe, and often feel as if I am having a heart attack.  I am currently fulfilling my last duty of a widow in Islam, my Iddah period. (four months and ten days of mourning the passing of my husband).

My days are no longer filled with galas, weddings, and parties.   They are spent alone; lonely, sad, and completely devastated. My mind can’t let it go.  I used to hear about something called grief paralysis, and now I experience it. Your body literally feels as if it can’t move.   It’s awful.  It’s worse than any depression.  You feel dead inside but somehow the tears don’t stop.

You make yourself get up every morning because there is no more “the man of the house”.  You are the father and mother; you must try to survive for the sake of your ten-year-old child.  A child who is in agony but hides it because I am grieving so intensely. He tells me every day “no one loved Dada the way you did”.   As strange as it may sound it makes me feel proud for loving Rehan so much.  He was so young!  He was so incredibly handsome, filled with ambition. But he died. How? Why? I ask God every night.

I don’t get to just grieve my grief; I grieve for my son as well.   What will it be like when he turns 12, 13, 16, 18, graduation, college the list in my head is endless and it all leads to incomprehensible sadness, which I cannot overcome.

A handbook for “young” widows?

No one gives you a handbook on how to be a young widow with a young child. You don’t get married thinking “oh maybe in ten or fifteen years I will be alone”. I, like so many other American Pakistani’s were never taught to be self-sufficient.  I relied heavily on my husband for everything in my life.  When I would take on contract jobs the first phone call was to Rehan, I discussed and ran everything past him and asked for his advice.  I don’t know what to do with my life.

This pain I feel is so indescribable.  People tell me “You need to go on vacation”, “go exercise”.  Okay, will that bring Rehan back?  Will it make all my pain go away? No.

Then there’s that dreaded phone call coming from your son’s school.  He needs to be picked up because he had a breakdown at school.   Do you know how that feels?  You feel like CRAP!   You tell your son it’s ok, dada is in a better place, and you and him are going to be just fine.  Then you go take a shower so your son can’t hear you cry.  And ask God “why my son”?  “Why us?”.

I want people to know it is OK to not want to get out of bed when your life ends, and you are forced to start a “new” one.  It is okay to be so paralyzed by grief that you feel like you will die.  Be kind to yourself.  I have been extremely kind to myself during this horrific time.  When I am lying in bed with tears streaming down my face, I allow myself to go to the dark place.  I know the only way out is by going through all the bad days.

I try to find the silver lining, “at least I live in the US and not some war-torn country”.  Honestly nothing brings peace to your heart, nor does the pain go away.  I don’t know how to move on or pretend that it’s ok.  I am not okay, none of this is okay. I will never look over and see Rehan, I will never hear that loud laugh of his, or his witty remarks. Rehan died; he took a part of me with him.

I haven’t felt anything but sadness for the past year, and I know the most heart-breaking part is I will never be the same person ever again.

However, I do thank God every day for giving me a beautiful child, home, family and friends who have been by my side.  Grief is a piece of Sh**.  I am not going to sugar coat it in anyway.  I have never once stopped crying; I know it sounds insane. But it’s my truth.