Category : FAMILY
Author : Sajida Zubair

Sajida Zubair

Healing is a nonlinear journey, marked by moments of resilience and introspection. Healing isn’t easy. Healing is messy, but healing is possible – Sajida Zubair writes.

“Do people think that they will be left alone because they say, ‘We believe,’ and will not be tested? And we indeed tested those who were before them. And Allah will certainly make it known (the truth of) those who are true and will certainly make it known (the falsehood of) those who are liars (although Allah knows all that before putting them to the test).”


In the words of Francis Bacon, “It is as natural to die as to be born.” We all know that every soul on this earth will face death, and no one can stop it. Regardless of how true the reality of death is, most people avoid, ignore, or dismiss discussing it. Some even consider it a bad omen to discuss death.
Many people get chills when they visit the dead, attend funerals, or drive by a graveyard or cremation ground. Accepting the greatest truth of life on this earth has always been a painful and traumatic experience.

My experiences

My experience with funerals or janazas is not any different. Because our mother is a very sensitive and emotional person, she frequently avoided taking us to visit the dead or to funerals or janazas. She always told us, “You will get scared!” and we firmly believed her. The first dead person, or Janaza, I visited was my grandmother when I was in the 7th grade, around the age of 10. My grandmother passed away around Fajr time (5 a.m.), and my aunts informed us the burial would take place after Isha prayers after we reached Belgaum.

The memory of a mother’s passing

To attend her funeral prayer, we travelled early in the morning from Bangalore to Belgaum. Our father had asked a friend to drive us to our destination because he was not emotionally stable enough after his mother died to drive 400 kilometres. We caught the funeral procession just two blocks from our house in Belgaum, and I saw my father jump out from the front seat and cry out loudly, saying, “Meri maa mujhe chhod ke chale gayi” (My mother left me). My four younger siblings and I sat in the car quietly, not knowing how to react. I never asked them how they felt or what they wanted to say, but I was speechless and did not know how to react. Fast forward to 1999, and getting married into a Malayali family was altogether a new world for me. Women attending jumuah and Eid congregations, delivering speeches and talking in front of men, and most importantly, praying Janaza salah, were all new to me. I decided to learn the Janaza prayer, the supplication, and how to give ghusl to the dead. It had mixed feelings of fear as well as excitement. This was followed by attending many funerals and prayers. The fear of visiting the dead seemed to be fading.

The loss of a spouse

But as we know, Allah has a divine plan, and every soul is tested. I was also tested in a very shattering way. I lost my husband on July 7, 2022.
My life came to a standstill. Losing a spouse is an incredibly difficult and emotionally wrecking experience. It was a moment of disbelief, a complex mix of confused emotions. Grief, sadness, fears of loneliness, and a sense of emptiness gripping all the senses. It’s a deeply personal experience that only the all-knowing Rabb understands with its intensity and precision. It’s been a year, and the pain still seems as fresh as it was when I lost him. This was the first time I spent a long time sitting close to someone who was wrapped in a shroud. The world around me was invisible. I felt that my life ended here. The struggle with the adjustment to life without a companion of more than two decades created a profound sense of emptiness. Almost one and a half years after my husband’s last journey, the fear that I had as a child visiting the dead has now turned into a trigger that brings back every ounce of pain I felt at that time. Hence, I stopped visiting the dead.

What is death?

The truth of death encompasses existential, philosophical, and cultural dimensions, shaping perspectives on mortality. Existentially, death punctuates life, prompting reflection on purpose and legacy. Philosophically, diverse beliefs surround the nature of death, from religious notions of an afterlife to existentialist acceptance of life’s finite nature. Culturally, rituals and mourning practices vary, highlighting the intricate tapestry woven by societies to navigate the profound mystery of death. In exploring the truth of death, one delves into the complexities that define our existence and illuminates the fragile beauty of life. Allah says in the Quran, chapter 3, verse 185, “Every soul shall taste death.” We are answerable to the Creator as to how we spend our lives on earth.

Those left behind

But what about the trauma one is left with after someone leaves us? Losing a loved one is a profound and deeply emotional experience, often leaving an indelible mark on those left behind. Grief, a complex and individual process, unfolds in various stages. Initially, there’s shock and denial as the mind grapples with the harsh reality. As time progresses, pain intensifies, giving way to a range of emotions like anger, guilt, and profound sadness. When Prophet Yusuf (peace and blessings be upon him) was taken away from his father Yaqoob (peace and blessings be upon him), the father could not control his sadness; his eyes shed tears of unbearable pain, resulting in his blindness. The trauma of death disrupts the fabric of daily life, leading to a sense of emptiness and loss. Simple routines become poignant reminders of their absence, and the world may seem markedly different. Coping mechanisms vary, with some seeking solace in memories while others grapple with the unfairness of mortality.

Healing – a messy journey

On a personal level, if the trauma of the death of a loved one can be this distressing and healing becomes messier each day, we can imagine how deaths on a larger scale affect humans and their mental health. The conflict in Gaza has indeed caused immense human suffering and trauma. The impact on individuals and communities is intense, affecting mental and emotional well-being. Mass killings and genocide have severe and lasting effects on the mental health of individuals and communities. Survivors often experience trauma, anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The loss of loved ones, witnessing violence, and the destruction of communities contribute to profound emotional distress. These effects can be intergenerational, impacting the mental health of subsequent generations. Access to mental health support is crucial for survivors and affected communities to cope with the long-term psychological consequences of such atrocities. Addressing the mental health impact is an integral part of the broader process of recovery and healing after mass violence. What we witnessed on our screens and what the Palestinians experienced daily for the last 70 years or more has already begun to take its toll on the mental well-being of human beings in general and Palestinians in particular. I can hardly fathom the pain and agony of these people from the visuals of a father carrying the shredded pieces of his sons in plastic bags, screaming for someone to fix them, or seeing multiple dead bodies of little children lying around as if their existence never mattered to anyone. The little boys, who showed what a panic attack looks like, sent chills through my body. One stood in shock, not knowing what happened, and the other sat shockingly on a hospital bed, unable to come out of the moment of the bombing. I could not imagine the trauma they would carry for the rest of their lives and for generations to come.

Re-circulation of violence and trauma

Exposure to such images and videos depicting the worst side of human behaviour and vulnerability can have lasting effects on an individual’s mental health. The graphic and distressing nature of such content can trigger a range of emotional and psychological responses, even in those who may not have directly experienced the events. Witnessing graphic images can lead to immediate distress, causing feelings of shock, horror, and intense sadness. These reactions can be overwhelming and may persist even after the exposure has ended. The disturbing images may invade the individual’s thoughts unexpectedly, leading to intrusive memories or flashbacks. This exposure to graphic content can disrupt normal sleep patterns, leading to nightmares and insomnia. Sleep disturbances further contribute to increased stress and fatigue. Individuals may experience heightened levels of arousal, where they are constantly on edge, anticipating danger. This state of alertness can lead to increased irritability, difficulty in concentrating, and a sense of being easily startled. To cope with the distressing memories, individuals may develop avoidance behaviours. This can involve steering clear of reminders, such as avoiding certain places, conversations, or media that could trigger distressing thoughts. Exposure to graphic content can lead to emotional numbing as a defence mechanism. Individuals may find it challenging to connect with their emotions or others, experiencing a sense of detachment from their surroundings. Prolonged exposure to disturbing images may contribute to the development or exacerbation of mental health conditions, including anxiety disorders, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Trauma and therapeutic interventions

The trauma experienced during genocide can manifest in various ways, including intrusive thoughts, nightmares, and flashbacks. Survivors may constantly feel on edge, be hyper-vigilant about potential threats, and struggle with concentration. Emotional numbness, avoidance of reminders, and a heightened startle response are common symptoms, creating a profound impact on daily life.
The psychological and emotional toll of the Israel-Palestine conflict extends beyond the individual, affecting families and communities. Rebuilding trust and fostering resilience becomes a collective challenge. Addressing this issue requires a comprehensive approach, combining psychological support, community healing initiatives, and acknowledgement of the historical trauma.
Therapeutic interventions, such as trauma-focused cognitive-behavioural therapy, can be crucial in helping survivors cope with their experiences. Creating safe spaces for individuals to share their stories, validate their emotions, and connect with others who have undergone similar traumas can also play a pivotal role in the healing process.
Additionally, societal efforts to commemorate the victims and acknowledge historical injustices can contribute to the collective healing process. Recognizing and addressing the root causes of genocide, promoting justice, and fostering reconciliation are essential components of preventing further trauma and promoting resilience.
Whatever is happening in Gaza right now is resulting in mass deaths and immense suffering and is an enduring challenge, especially for the mental and emotional well-being of the victims. It necessitates a multifaceted approach involving individual and community-based interventions, therapeutic support, and broader societal efforts to confront the legacy of trauma and promote healing.


Healing is a nonlinear journey, marked by moments of resilience and introspection. Healing isn’t easy. Healing is messy, but healing is possible. The deceased may physically be gone, but the impact of their presence lingers, shaping the way we survive. It’s essential to acknowledge the human cost of such events and promote understanding for a path towards peace. At the end of it, we all know that it was all a test from theAlmighty Creator. “Do people think that they will be left alone because they say, ‘We believe,’ and will not be tested? And we indeed tested those who werebefore them. And Allah will certainly make it known (the truth of) those who are true and will certainly make it known (the falsehood of) those who are liars (although Allah knows all that before putting them to the test).” (Qur’an -29:2-3) And the reality is, “No disaster strikes except with the permission of Allah. And whoever believes in Allah, He will guide his heart. And Allah is aware of
all things.”


  1. Azeez Belgaumi


    • Jessy

      Very well written Sajida. A painful read.

  2. Humera

    History bears testimony tht this is not the first event of extreme tyranny with human beings on this earth…. before the era of media and technology too, we Have many more stories, devastating and damaging our emotions…

    Just flash back into gujrat’s riots of 2004 a mother’s womb was torn and infant was mercilessly pulled out of the uterus and was burnt alive…..and even today latest, the three ladies in Manipur paraded naked….
    Despite of such heinous criminal events, humanity heals and the life goes on…and also forgets everything as time passes…

    But people of Gaza are on the
    Next level of faith and courage….we could see the videos during the truce deal how they are once gain trying to gather the shattered livelihood and trying to prepare some food for the remaining people of any family they found, sitting together happily eating whatever available with smiles on there beautiful faces…the whole world is trying to extract great lessons of courage, patience and faith from these amazing wonderful souls on earth…
    Infact in such traumatic conditions they with there wonderful attitude and strongest faith are enlightening the whole situation for the world to ponder over the realities of this worldly life and also paving a way to think about a life after death when they say my kid, my doll my daughter , my son is happy playing Jannah and I will soon meet him or her there… inshallah


  3. Yasir

    Well written ,healing is not easy , personally healing is a path which is a twisted for any such personal losses for human being,thanks for writing it up and pouring all the aspects of right to considering the context of Gaza too in it ,very nuanced and detailed it is,keep writing

    • Dr Shahina Shabnam

      The messy journey of healing is very well explained… Much relatable it is.. Also thanks for shedding light on the mental and psychological aspects of human suffering in Gaza conflict…this is something that is overlooked everytime…May Almighty ease their sufferings and make the journey of healing more endurable .

      • Razia Begum

        Maasha Allah well written healing journey…. It’s necessary to write about the loss, suffering and the ache. May Almighty Allah ease everything… Please continue writing Aapa…

      • Safeenahaneef

        MashaAllah….well written…’Healing journey’ it shows the immense pain u bear after losing ur loved one?
        May Allah SWT heal everyone with his mercy….Aameen

        You are a inspiration to so many of us❤️keep going ….looking forward for more…..
        May Allah SWT bless u every way?
        With love ur Pinks?

    • Bilal

      Very well penned, ma’am. Your words capture the messy path of healing, weaving personal experiences with relatable real-life examples.

      A painful read.

      May Allah bless us all with sabr-e-jameel in this world, and reunite us all with our dear ones in Jannah.

  4. Nahida Nasreen

    Great writeup. There is a clarity of thoughts and the flow . The content depicts your pain and trauma of loosing a loved one. Death is always painful. But healing is more so. It’s the way we heal which defines the person we become. Looking forward to reading more from you.

    • Sajida Zubair

      Jazakillah for your encouragement sister.

      • Shakeeba thasneem

        The journey of healing is messy and also every situation has khair in it.. it is a long way to get over traumas..only Allah can heal what the dunya breaks..
        Ya Allah heal the broken hearts and the ones who are tired of torment .

      • Dr. Ashif

        Subhan Allah, what a comprehensive piece of writing. May Allah bless you sister.

  5. Nasreen

    May Allah swt heal everyone with his mercy.. aameen

  6. Nabeela

    You are an inspiration to so many young minds out there ! Don’t stop reach out to every corner . Allah loves you ! You have it in you!

    May Allah bless you and ease all your worldly affairs and make you the zariya to help others . More power courage to you !


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