I am returning home from work. Cold Ankara days. I am walking the 15-minutes –way from work home my hat on my head and my scarf around my neck. I am taking my steps with my head bent, pulling the scarf to my eyes, making sure my face is hidden.

15 minutes; the time I let myself cry in the rush of a life where I am trapped in my daily routines. It is as if 25th hour is an unworldly space and I live all my day just for this 25th hour so to speak.

“How can I express my grief?” is the question I receive from many people. One part of me wants to give you useful lists to be a remedy to whatever state you are in. Another part of me knows that it is not right; what’s more, it is impossible.

That’s why I want to tell my own story.

There are the ones who know. The period I have talked about above was from 15 years ago. The time when my second son was diagnosed with a rare neurological disease. Then Berna was a person working in a corporate life in a busy schedule and having a very different understanding of grief from the one today. I go back and look at what grief was for me then or how I got in touch with my grief: I see a Berna who called losses mostly after death grief, who viewed the feelings of other losses as an issue to overcome and, in this sense, for all her problems, developed a business and action plan. Besides, a Berna who couldn’t discover the power of vulnerability, having her power from her skill to analyze and solve problems.

Well, were my approaches wrong, then? No, of course, not hundred percent wrong. However, they weren’t hundred percent right, either. More precisely, they weren’t adequate. I had no idea about what to do when business plans don’t work.

The person you love dearly living face to face with death for a while and, afterwards, his situation transforming into a chronic illness whose results he will live with all his life, and which has serious dimensions; that was my state. Which of my griefs could I talk about in an event affecting (changing it completely) all my life and future? Loss of trust in life as I know it, the loss of my hopes for future, the loss of my plans for future, the loss of my routines, the loss of identities I know, relationship loss, intimacy loss, financial loss, opportunity loss, the loss of my need to rest…These are the ones I can say in a flash. These were too many for a person who associated grief only with death until then. My griefs were much bigger than me. They were above both my height and weight. And I didn’t know what to do with them. What’s worse, there was no one around who did.

The ones who have gone through similar processes know; it is not adequate to describe the things experienced in such times only with the words like a deep pain and sadness. The pain and sadness already walk around with you penetrating your tissues during the day even in your dreams, but there is more to it. I can talk about a kind of pain like being operated on without anesthesia. It is as if you could faint any time due to the excess of pain, but when just about to faint, you live without fainting. My days passed by in this state. Then, one day my 15minutes started in a way I don’t remember how; the times when I could say to myself that I had grief and let my tears fall. My first expressions of my grief. I appreciate it now.

The reason for my limiting my grief in 15 minutes because I reached home after a 15-minute –walk. Two small children waiting for me at home and a to-do list were way above my height and weight. The time I thought necessary to spend with my 5-year-old son to ensure he would be least affected by this period, my second son’s needing help physically due to his losing his ability to use his right part of his body, tons of things to be planned and done. Times when I didn’t have a minute to sit down. And many nights (years) I spent without any sleep due to my son’s health.

I am talking about these because many of you cannot call your grief as such and, more importantly, you have no time to live your grief. The pace of life is so fast and the to-do list is so real that, on top of these, we try to go on living with the absence of living in a society unaware of grieving.

This very short walking time is one of the biggest presents I have ever given to myself without realizing it. Because I couldn’t lessen my workload and I had no way of slowing down the outer world, this 15- minute is my doing best completely surrendering to conditions and my doing the best possible. A grief space where I cleaned up crying with my scarf on my face and ensured myself that I would be doing this the next day, a space just for myself. A soul hygiene lasting 900 seconds in total every day.

I know that this 15-minute- ritual with myself (yes, I think this was a ritual) was one of the fundamental stones of the way taking me today. Believe me the length or the shortness of the period doesn’t matter at all. What matters was creating that space for myself as much as I could –saying my grief was over my head- and expressing my grief in the way I felt it in a state of submission. Then that was crying. I cried. Walking has always been a special activity for me. It is like some sort of meditation, and it clears my mind. Since I didn’t have any time for myself to do sport or yoga, I used the 15-minute for this purpose. I combined the activity and the tears. One more thing is that the scarf I used to hide my face was my mother’s. As my mum was very sad about my son’s illness, I couldn’t cry near her and I didn’t want to make her sadder, but I was crying near my mum thanks to her scarf. The scarf became a safe container for my tears wrapping them up , listened to me with no judgement, was always there for me warm and embracing. It was a perfect grief doula. It was the incarnational state of the support I would like to have around me.

Could I turn that period I had into a list as I previously did? Yes, of course I could. However, I really would like you to have your own lists from what I have been through. Do not forget that this is a journey; a journey where a pain of your heart can hurt you as much as a physical one, where your mood could change any minute, which is exhausting and which you wish to last much shorter. I wish you could entrust your grief to a greater thing if your grief is overwhelming for you; my grief is bigger than me so what is bigger than it? Air, the sun, water or whatever your sacred entity is…In a submissive state. If you think that you are not supported for any reason in your grief period, I wish you could spare yourself a 25th hour like me, even if it is 5 minutes.

What I have written is the transformed form of what-can-be-done when in grief lists to a prayer. May my prayers be accepted for all of us.

Yazının Türkçe versiyonu: 25. saat; Yasımla temas

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