The death of a loved one alters our lives and our core selves. We also experience secondary losses that pierce us—a surprising element of this can be a drastic decline in our long-term social support system. Our lack of education on death and grief represents the alarming reality of grief illiteracy in modern North American societies. Few people are therefore prepared to accompany another’s grief for the length of their bereavement. Instead, we are prone to sweep the sorrows of others out of sight, away from us, when they most need to be seen and heard in their pain. An authentic witnessing of each other’s grief has diminished.
In The Revelations of Eapen, Linita Eapen Mathew’s moving memoir, she uses evocative autoethnography to delve deeply into the human psyche through a collection of 41 stories, uncovering the cultural interactions that occurred before, during, and after her father’s death. Her narration as protagonist, hoping to reconcile with her father’s loss, discloses her struggle with chronic, complicated grief, simultaneously exposing the grief-illiterate nature of modern North American culture. Although her suffering does not recede easily, her support in Canada quickly vanishes following the conclusion of her father’s funeral. As she travels to Kerala, India, to perform the traditional Indian-Christian death rituals, she learns of the potent healing power of ritualistic ceremonies on her prolonged grief and the positive result of communal grieving on reconciliation. Throughout these Revelations, she divulges the spiritual intricacies that can coincide with death, such as sensing her father’s presence, hearing his voice, meeting him in dreams, and feeling guided by him internally. At last, she learns how to continue her bond with her father, sealing her successful transition into life after loss.
This book is a voice, a companion, and a tribute to all who have lost a loved one.