63: Thriving While Grieving

63: Thriving While Grieving

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Time to Thrive

Thriving While Grieving

Help your brother’s boat across, and your own will reach the shore.

~Hindu Proverb

A part of me felt guilty, but I knew that I needed to honor my brother by moving forward with my life’s purpose. I never expected to be launching a new business and a personal development seminar one year after my younger brother suddenly passed away.

On the day Taranveer passed, my world came crashing down. Just four days prior, I had told a friend how completely happy I was for the first time ever. My parents were also strong emotionally and ready to conquer the world. Taranveer had gotten his dream job, one he had been seeking for a year.

I had moved back in with my parents three months earlier, so I had spent every day with my brother before he left for his job. He left two days after my birthday, and I was mad at him for not wishing me a happy birthday or saying Happy Father’s Day to our dad.

When we said goodbye, I hugged him and told him I loved him and wished him the best. He called me a few minutes later from the car to remind me to find his speakers. That was our relationship — we were really close friends who forgave each other and went back to our dynamic relationship as siblings.

The morning we learned he had died, I was standing with my parents and it felt like his spirit was standing beside me, telling me that we have a greater purpose and not to grieve for him too much. We decided as a family that we would celebrate him, laugh and tell his funny stories. We kept that atmosphere in our home instead of the pain and sorrow in traditional Sikh grieving households. Not following the norm, we laughed at the funeral and his pictures. Some elders of the community commented that we seemed unaffected by the death, but they didn’t know we cried ourselves to sleep every night.

The year after his passing became a year of travel and self-discovery for me. I finally did the international consulting work I had always wanted to do. I was healthy and I made new friendships. I was a changed person.

Now that I had lost my identity as a sister, I had to rediscover who I was. And I had become the sole caregiver for my parents. I had to take that into consideration for all my decisions — where I wanted to live, where they would live, how I could support them as they aged and what emotional support they needed. I knew I wanted to be there to support them while they rebuilt their life.

In the Sikh culture, there were some who told my parents they had nothing left because now they didn’t have a son. My parents fought back, telling everyone that their daughter was everything and more.

I had a powerful conversation with my dad, who said, “We are meant to be of greater service and contribute to our community and that is why we are facing such hardships. We need to step outside ourselves and be of service as that is how we can honor him.”

As soon as my brother had passed, I had decided to have a ball hockey tournament in one year as a fun way to get everyone together, celebrate him and contribute to kids in sports. I cried each day of the tournament, but in the end knew it was the right thing to do. We contributed happiness and memories to those who attended the tournament and those who benefited from it.

I also had decided that a year after his passing, I would step up my contribution in a big way. So I launched my personal coaching company, focusing on ethnic women aligning to their passion/message by building the career and life they love.

I came forward and hosted a weekend seminar two days after what would have been Taranveer’s birthday. He was always the proudest of me when I helped change people’s lives. He was always telling his friends about me and all the cool things I did. I hope that he’s talking about me wherever he is, saying, “That is my sister, the one who realized that living her life with purpose is more important than crying for my loss.”

~Manpreet Dhillon

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