Sonali lost her two children, husband and parents in the 2004 tsunami in Sri Lanka. She said that for about two years after that she barely moved, and was on suicide watch. (She remembers being in the bathroom and a friend outside asking, Are you done now?)
Tonight she was bright and able to laugh; she was clear and warm and generous and real.
She wrote about her experiences in her book, Wave, in 2013, and she discussed her grieving process with George, a psychologist who writes about grief in his book, The Other Side of Sadness. He remarked on her resilience. And she said, very gently, "There's no finishing line." Meaning, you don't just go from being shattered to moving through the grief to being fine. “You need to keep fluid,” she said. “There needs to be some freedom to grieve and some freedom to feel.”
I found tremendous comfort and relief in this idea; that there is no finishing line, no point at which we will be judged or win the prize; we don’t have to achieve a certain thing at a certain time. It seems to me to be a spacious way to exist.
Sonali talked about the decisions she’d made over the years—the fact that she hadn’t moved back to her home city, London, for four years after the disaster, because she hadn’t been ready to go home. She said it was right for her at that time. It was just what she felt she needed to do. George said, We know more than we think we do.
I was very glad to have heard what they shared.