Dr Nahid Dave is a Practicing Psychiatrist and Counsellor in Mumbai. She specialises in individual counselling, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, addiction, couples therapy, relationship counselling, parenting difficulties, anger management, anxiety and family therapy.
She started out speaking about the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. But she also said that they need not always follow in systematic progression, they can also be felt simultaneously.
The best way that you can support someone who is grieving is just by being there. Let them know that you are there for them whenever they need to talk. Do not try to make them feel better by telling them that things will get better or they could be so much worse.
Give them the space to cry and grieve and just listen.Do not ask questions like ‘How did it happen?’ These kind of questions do not help the person who is grieving. When Dr Dave said this, it reminded me of the movie ‘Ramprasad Ki Tehrvi’ where every person who visited the grieving widow asked this very question. Rather ask questions like ‘How are you feeling?’ or ‘What can I do for you?’
Helplessness she explained comes from a feeling of being stuck : Feeling that I should be doing something vs not being able to do it. Dr Dave suggested focussing only on what is within our control rather than what we cannot control.
She also explained that worry comes with an impulse. The best way to overcome constant feelings of worry and anxiety she said was to procrastinate it. When you find yourself worrying about something, stop your thoughts and say, I will worry about this at 10pm. At 10pm, you most likely will decide it is not worth your time worrying about it.
Currently, there is a lot being spoken about the state of languishing that many of us find ourselves in. She says that this stems from the fact that we have all realised that we are vulnerable, the disease is hitting us closer than it did a year ago. This is very scary when coupled with a perceived lack of control to protect ourselves. Uncertainty is very high and we feel helplessness, grief or guilt. To push these feelings down, we end up trying to distract ourselves with Netflix as it seems pointless to engage in something constructive.
Dr Dave recommends using this time to prepare for a possible future. She also suggests taking up something which does not involve gadgets. Set a task/goal/hobby for yourself where you can enjoy the process, not just the outcome.
We also spoke about how it is important for us to recognise our emotions and teach children how to do it too.
While growing up feelings of guilt are often rewarded or positively reinforced, but often come with a sense of shame attached. She recommends that guilt should create a sense of responsibility rather than shame. Feeling guilt over something that has passed is pointless. Channel the guilt into what you can do differently now or in the future.
Watching the news or certain whatsapp video forwards constantly can be a huge source of triggering anxiety. Dr Dave recommends consuming news in print rather than video format and avoid consuming news as the first or last activity of your day to help lower your anxiety levels.
Pain is physical and unavoidable, but suffering is a choice. We suffer when we struggle to accept something. Acceptance will bring peace.
For me the most important takeaway from the talk was that she said everyone takes their own time to grieve. Grieving is OK for up to a month (as long as it is not accompanied by panic attacks or suicidal thoughts). If it goes on for longer, then it is advisable to seek professional help.
You can watch the video of the entire webinar here for more suggestions and tips: