On Another’s Grief

Can I see another’s woe,
And not be in sorrow too?
Can I see another’s grief,
And not seek for kind relief?
– William Blake

No matter what words I use it is beyond my capabilities as a writer to capture the poignancy of the event I am describing so I shall stick to sterile facts: one of my co-passengers on the train, a young girl around my age, learned while she was in the train returning home that her father who had been  admitted in the hospital was no more. I don’t know this girl, and I will never see her again, but even as a complete stranger what was difficult for me to watch was the way she broke down. It takes unimaginable proportions of grief that I shudder to imagine to forget all societal conventions and weep copiously in front of strangers.
The entire compartment was stunned into silence. She was separated from us by her grief, and there was nothing that we could do or say that would mitigate her pain.
What I felt at that moment was a weird conflagration of conflicting emotions: empathy and sympathy for sure, but there was also an emotion of relieved gratitude that it wasn’t me, and an acute realization that someday in the future it could be me instead of her, and that is a terrifying thought. Indeed so terrifying that I had an ardent desire to call up my father, but my rational mind snapped at me to not be a sentimental fool and disturb him.
In the end I would just like to conclude that I sincerely hope that girl gets the strength and courage to face her loss. My prayers shall be with her and her family.

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