Dealing With Grief as an Immigrant During COVID

Photo by Milada Vigerova on Unsplash

Re-reading books I enjoyed as a child

I have been reading all the Harry Potter books back to back, which is something I never thought I’d do. So unfailingly am I surrounded by books that I must and should read that I barely think about what book would bring me joy. Reading Harry Potter felt like a balm. I was back again in my childhood bedroom, reading under the sheets, late into the night.

Talking to family (even that distant aunt/cousin)

My thatha’s death has given me a reason to connect with the cousins and aunts I haven’t been in touch with for several years. While picking up the phone and talking to them was initially a hard thing to do, once we started chatting, I felt warmth and familiarity wash over me. My cousins and I shared oddly specific stories from our childhood summers. As we talked about our grandfather and his sense of humor and warmth, we felt the burden of our grief lessen.

Following a “happy routine”

I have been waking up early every morning (6:00 a.m.) to simply be. During those 2–3 hours before my first work meeting, I do whatever I please while sipping hot, black coffee. Sitting with my feelings and paying heed to them are helping me become my own confidant.

Being kind to myself — not productive

As a tech person in San Francisco, being ultra-productive, stellar at work, AND fit, healthy, while learning new skills every day just feels like the social norm.
In the days immediately following my grandfather’s death, I would walk into meetings where I’d be asked about a document/report/status.
The pace of work would feel like *chop chop chop* and my mind would go *nope nope nope*. I just couldn’t pretend like everything was okay with me. So, I switched off deliberately. I declined meetings. I allowed myself to be sad. I took time off fully knowing that if my company were to lay me off due to COVID/ lack of productivity, I’d have to pack up my life in the U.S. and fly back to India in a few months (maybe there’d be other options but one doesn’t think of them when one is living between two worlds).

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I'm a product manager from Chennai living in San Francisco. I enjoy writing about product management, books, food, and people.

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Ashwini Sriram

I'm a product manager from Chennai living in San Francisco. I enjoy writing about product management, books, food, and people.