Updated: Mar 4
Since I cannot be productive of any academic work nowadays, I will probably start blogging and hopefully find a way somehow out of this blackhole thereby.
Given that we have decided to fulfil Aaron's wishes by creating a Memorial Foundation for nonprofit undertakings as well as a Virtual Memorial to mourn Aaron's passing and celebrate his life, one of the first questions on our minds has been how people (should) grieve in such situations and why? This question may require many posts to address adequately. So let's just keep that in mind for now.
Before tackling that, I have also been reflecting on other related things, including how unprepared we were for such a devastating, heart-breaking occurrence. It might be safe to say that probably most of us are ill prepared to deal with a situation like this.
We often did not realize how lucky we were until things took a dramatic turn for the worse. That is especially true with people who all of sudden lost their loved ones.
For people going through such a painful process of mourning while trying not to drown oneself in the pain and loss, there might be some typical questions worth pondering.
Some of the questions I have been asking myself, and supposedly many other parents would ask in similar situations, include: Are we able ever to recover from such a devastating loss? If so, in what form? By what means? After how long? At what cost?
If a full recovery is not going to happen, what can and should we do to minimize the damages to ourselves and to others? What can be done to make this grieving process eventually more meaningful and positive for both the deceased ones and for the living?
These questions are not just relevant to those who have lost a young child but also to others in grief over their beloved ones.
At the same time, many readers might have not experienced such loss and pain and thus find these discussions merely hypothetical and thus immaterial. I would have felt the same about two years ago (before my father passed away) or to a great extent even two months ago (since my father's passing at the age of 90 did not hurt me as much, if I can be honest with myself). It is natural for us to feel this way as we tend to push aside scenarios that would cause us mental distress as long as they do not seem so imminent. But if we were willing to further ponder on this, we would realize that all of us eventually have to deal with the painful loss of someone precious to us at some point in our life, and that it is just a question of when and how that may happen to us. This is an alarming recognition that I sadly had not given much thought to until lately, to my own detriment.
That then brings up the question of grieving itself. Why do we need to grieve, and how should we do it (in order to minimize the damages and to recover from all of this as noted above)? What kinds of social norms or commonly practiced routines are we supposed to follow nowadays? Do such norms and practices help those in grief to heal sooner or end up prolonging and worsening their situations?
Needless to say, we have no good answers to these questions as we are still searching for effective guidance and coping mechanisms. But I find them highly pertinent to my current mental state and plan to revisit them in future posts.
I will stop here for today.
P.S. After more than two months of doing virtually no academic work (except for writing two reference letters), I managed to write down one short paragraph about one of my book projects today right after drafting the above blog. While I might be just rehashing what I wrote before somewhere, it is at least a sign of progress from complete academic paralysis, a topic to which I hope to return in future posts.
After I have finished the above, Ruoyun also wrote her first blog post, which happens to directly address some of the issues outlined above. Thus, we managed to move in synch without even planning. It may indeed be true that shared suffering gets people closer (not to imply that we were not close before this tragedy). Ok. I think I just made up that saying. That's it for today.
Note: We reiterate the invitation to friends, colleagues, and others to share their own grieving processes and struggles. I should mention that we plan to share the Blog posts to Aaron's Facebook Memorial Page and occasionally probably through my Twitter account as well if we feel the discussions could help other people. You can follow us as a member or join us as a writer after clicking "log in" at the top of your screen (or after clicking the three lines of your phone screen and then "log in") to fill out some basic information.