Hundreds of people know Preethi and Srini through their soulful Krya products, posts and presentations. Some know them more closely as friends. I'm one of them.
Many people know them through their very personal stories they share on their FB wall. They tell stories about growing their enterprise, questions and struggles, successes and celebrations, new formulations, journeys with their factory staff, care for their well-being, interactions with their customers, who really soon become their friends at some level. They don't tell stories to entertain their readers. They tell them to generously give of themselves, share of their lives. This makes their stories moving and inspiring. Detailed, descriptive, honest and unexaggerated stories. I open and read their stories whenever I feel like I have the mental space to absorb and stay with them for some time. They always carry something to think about.
Everyone knows how much Preethi and Srini loved their daughter Maya, whose health condition was a severe one that they did their every bit to work through. But one day last month, Maya decided to pass on quite unexpectedly, in fact just as she was getting so much better, just three weeks before her fourth birthday.
It was barely a couple of weeks after this devastating experience of their lives that the floods hit Chennai. And this couple got down to very focused, coordinated action, making themselves available, accessible and accountable to everyone who contributed relief material. And their work continues in many realms including this one. Everyone who knew this couple was inspired and shocked! How could they have moved on so quickly? Not just to do their 'little bit' but to give of themselves so fully to such involved work? There is a lesson that I learnt from their experience which answered this for me. It is about Grieving.
I kept following how deeply they grieved their loss. They wrote post after post, with beautiful pictures of Maya, right from the day of her passing on. They expressed their difficulty in accepting what had happened, and yet praying for strength for acceptance. They fondly recalled wonderful memories celebrating their angel, and recalled how she was loved by her grandparents, aunts and uncles. They wept aloud. They spoke to her asking her to come back. There was never any blame, not even on fate. Only forgiveness. When they didn't have the strength to forgive, they prayed for strength. They expressed gratitude through writing and in person, to all the people, like the doctors at Sanjeevani, who were with them through their very challenging times; gratitude to the 'infinitely kind universe' for having given them such a beautiful experience of being with Maya; gratitude to all the people supporting them through their grief. Gratitude filled so many of their posts. As vegans, they shared their repentance as they chose to give Maya aattukkaal soup and cow's milk everyday, asking for forgiveness from the mother cow and the goat. They replied to every single person who wrote to them. They announced with an apology, every time they could not be available.
I, along with hundreds others, read their posts day after day, like someone wrote 'either wiping a tear or clearing a lump in the throat'. Though occasionally Preethi apologised for grieving publicly, she was assured by all her friends and readers that they really valued her sharing and requested her to keep writing.
Many times, in the name of 'moving on', we don't allow ourselves or others to fully mourn and grieve loss. We are told to 'not cry', 'to remain strong'. Our culture tries to distract anyone who is in grief, although our tradition does offer us opportunities like the ten-day long ceremony for this reason. In one of her posts, Preethi talks about how a friend invited them to Bangalore to take a break and take their minds off this loss, and that they did consider it. But soon, they realised that it was important for them to not distract themselves from what they were going through and stay with it right here.
Many times, in the process of grieving, we blame ourselves, someone else, a situation, God, fate or whatever. We can fool ourselves that we have "briefly moved on" but we have only locked ourselves up energetically with our experience of loss, sinking deeper in suffering. Forgiving and expressing gratitude is a big part of grieving.
Thank you Srini and Preethi for giving us all such a powerful communal grieving experience through your sharing over the ten days. I learnt that truly grieving is about loving deeply, opening up, being vulnerable, forgiving, celebrating, sharing, expressing gratitude, being human, accepting, uninhibitedly crying, praying when it is hard to do all of these, so one can really heal, look forward to what lies ahead and move on. Grieving can be very beautiful in all its pain. I'm very sure that something significant has shifted in every one of us who followed your posts. Thank you for making all your posts 'public'. That says a lot about the space you both shared from.
Just a month ago, I wrote something on my blog asking 'Are we grieving enough?' In that I wrote,
“If we don't celebrate life, we can't really connect to pain and sadness and don't have much to grieve about.
If we don't grieve, we can't truly celebrate.
There can't be one without the other.”
After going through this powerful experience with Preethi and Srini, I feel so much stronger about this!