My Grampa died. He was 95. He had not been feeling well for some time so we were able to prepare ourselves for it, but it still is hitting me at random times. Grampa was my only living grandparent left. “S”C, a volunteer friend of mine, reminded me when I was talking with her about my Grampa being sick that even if biological grandparents are no longer with us - others are in our lives that we can “adopt”.
Not sure if that seems too soon for some to say, but as I type this now I am seeing how great of a comfort that is to me. When I worked Saturday nights, I would often times go straight to early morning church before going home to sleep. More older people usually attended this service probably due to early mornings are easier for them than others. It was so great for me when I came to those services. I know I have people from there that I have “adopted”.
That being said - I am not in the country at the moment to surround myself with them. I have a support system here, but it is continuing to dwindle. In addition to knowing my Grampa was going to pass away soon - a close volunteer friend was sent to Thailand for further medical testing. Facebook is great to keep in touch, but it has been hard to adjust when you’re used to being able to phone them.
Nepali culture is not big on crying or hugs. You can cry privately, but if others see you or you mention that you did - you’re told to not cry. This of course could just be the area I am living in that they say that, but elsewhere in Nepal - it is not common to show much emotion other than happiness. I weirded my didi out when I hugged her once so when I want a hug - I curl up with my travel doll and tell other volunteers when I see them next, I will want a hug from them.
I am doing ok. I have been taking the time to process things, but have realized I still should get on the internet at least once a day for worry prevention if phone reception is lacking. This day is going to be just like when I heard the news about my aunt passing away - reading the Bible and listening to worship music while curling up with my travel doll.
I still need to get answers from the training organization about the Moringa training I want to do so I can complete my grant for the deadline coming up soon, but it’s also important that I take time to grieve my family’s loss. My Nepali family has been supportive of me as I have shared what has been going on. They asked if on the eleventh day, I wouldn’t eat salt. I told them that it didn’t make a difference.
Nepali/Hindu culture after a death can be complicated. Men shave their heads, leaving only a tuft of hair at the back and wear white. If there is a death in the family, it is not polite to say “Namaste” to them - which is how everyone says hello. I’m not sure what day and what type of death this applies (as in if it’s just their mom, dad, or both), but men also make them a little room outside the house of gundries (straw mats).
I am not entirely sure if they wear clothes, but at least are covered in blankets if not. I also am not sure how long they stay there, but people come and visit them at least one night. If you leave, you cannot come back that night. That is at least what I remember from the time when a friend’s uncle’s parent died. I forget which one it was and many details because at the time it was bringing up too many things from my Gramma’s death the year before and the knowledge that my aunt would be passing away soon too.
This Peace Corps experience has shown me different traditions for death. My bahini’s husband’s family member died and she told me that they don’t eat meat, certain spices, and sweets for a year. Another lady I have worked with told me something similar only after a certain amount of days, she could add some spices and foods like chau chau (ramen noodles). I wrote a blog about my counterpart’s father’s anniversary of death event.
Everybody does different things when someone passes away. It’s hard to be aware of that when many things are done that is similar to your own, but the differences are there. And that is now the extent of where my brain can go right now. Please pray for my family - especially my mom and two aunts that have lost their father.
P.S. The blockade was opened a couple days ago and the bandhas (strikes) that have been going on in different districts have stopped. It is going to be interesting to observe the changes that will make to village life.