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Karthigesh, struggled with an emotional turmoil after his father’s heart attack and mother’s cancer relapse when he was 33

Grieving comes in various stages and forms, and they’ll catch you off guard. It doesn’t end after the funeral rites. My dad suffered a heart attack in April 2022 and passed away after; I’m at the acceptance stage today, and I still think of him. 

A host of problems came up after his death: I was already down in a rut, but I had to think rationally to deal with the logistical nightmare. We had things like estate planning, the sorting out of what little insurance he had, a mobile plan that he couldn’t get off of, and more. We also hit a roadblock with the casket services because we couldn’t collect the body on the same day, due to an ongoing autopsy at Singapore General Hospital (SGH). 

On a personal level, I was dealing with an aborted child and an uncertain relationship, while the emotions from my dad’s passing were running wild. 

But there are parts I’m extremely thankful for. Other than the fact that the funeral costs were covered by my dad’s ‘savings’ in white gold, I had help from non-immediate family. They knew what to do and provided recommendations along the funeral process. There are some I know of who aren’t close to extended family. I can’t imagine how anyone would be able to cope without any form of emotional support.

When we finally collected my dad’s body from the Health Sciences Authority (HSA), the casket company transported it to the site of the rites, and the males of the family did the Hindu rites for embalming. We had to wash him and dress him up. 

We weren’t strictly dictated by customs to be involved, but my brothers and I chose to do it. Women aren’t allowed in this process. There were a number of prayers after, for the next seven days. The following day, we threw the ashes into the sea. On the 21st day, we did another prayer at the beach. For all of the 21 days, we had to fast. Only a vegetarian diet was allowed. 

I was soon hit with a double whammy; my mum hadn’t been well, and she was the hardest hit. When I was much younger, she suffered from breast cancer, but she had already gone into remission. With this blow, she experienced a relapse, and her doctor said that her cancerous activity was spreading fast. She had to restart her dose of medication to control the tumour growth. 

As if we weren’t already aware of our mortality, my siblings and myself have been making an extra effort to spend more time with her, and create new memories. Like going to Batu Caves in Malaysia together. We’re more mindful about how we speak with her, and we helped her ease into retirement. She really shouldn’t be working at this point. 

It’ll be nice to build more of such memories and store them in an archive, like on liveful. You’d be safe in the knowledge that they’re preserved somewhere, and you have materials to remember a loved one by. It’s one way to cope. 

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