Tag Archives: grief

The Cousin.

You know that cousin who isn’t really your blood cousin but rather an “honorary cousin” or “cousin by merit”? It’s a really cool feature we had (and still have) , growing up in my amazingly unique country – Ghana. This country is having her challenges, but the social scope has always been beautiful. Growing up, in our social circles we were all “cousins”.  If someone said to any of us , “who is this you are with?” We would say, “this is my cousin.” Yes. We felt that close and connected. Our parents (even if just friends), to us were nothing less than brothers or sisters so if you are not my brother or sister, then you must be my cousin! 🙂

I can’t even begin to list the names of all the people I have once called “cousin”. They are many and most of them know themselves because they see me as their cousin too. Whether we are apart for one day or ten years, reunions are always like we never left or parted ways. In the Western world, it is only the offspring of your aunt or uncle who qualifies to be called your cousin. But here in Ghana, we have various types of cousins. Blood cousin – second and third included. “Family friend cousin”. “Our parents are best buddies” cousin. And “I love you, I hang with you all the time, and you look like you could be my” cousin.

Jehad Ashkar (1981 - 2016)

Tomorrow I will be witnessing the burial of such a well known and celebrated cousin. There are many of us who have had very little sleep since the tragic
news broke a few days ago. Social media is still ablaze with thoughts and memories of Jehad. Anxiety presents itself as we prepare ourselves for tomorrow and the inevitable.


Dealing with grief and the loss of loved ones.

Spirituality has a lot to do with the ways we process and deal with grief during the tragic loss of a loved one. Last night I received the tragic news of the transition of a brother – Jehad Ashkar and it took me back almost eleven years to the day I lost my brother Waleed. My mind immediately went to his family. His parents, sisters, recently wedded wife, and beautiful baby daughter. My sorrow feels deep and I feel strongly connected to this transition especially as I remember Jehad’s mother holding my hand and speaking words of comfort and encouragement on the morning Waleed passed.

Fast forward to facebook and all the posts pouring forth on our time lines.  Jehad was a great guy and it shows. Right now as I type this, pictures of him with tributes are circulating all over social media. Everyone has a great story to tell about him and his great personality not to mention his sense of adventure. Jehad was a rockstar.


How do we deal with such tragic losses while maintaining our sanity and earthly composure? How do we make sense of all the pains we go through as part of life? The pain we feel when we lose someone is proof of love. If it were not for love, there would be no pain. Ironic isn’t it? But yes. If I didn’t have love for him it wouldn’t hurt me if he’s gone. Pain is probably the greatest teacher that proves that love really does exist, has been, and will forever be the reason and essence of our existence, here and beyond. We are all spirits and energy living experiences in human form. The human journey always ends at some point but the energy is always there. The “soul” and essence of who you are and what you love will always remain continuous. If not here, somewhere else in the universe. And if you believe this, you will “overstand” the human experience and how to deal with each wave of emotion as it comes. First comes the shock and the intense wave of pain and emotional suffering through which comes either denial or acceptance of what has transpired. Many go through years of denial, not wanting to accept what has happened. Some bereaved people go through denial until they pass on themselves. When acceptance comes, it comes with peace and understanding. Some people make peace with the departed spirits and some are lucky enough to catch a glimpse into the “state” or “condiditon” in which they exist now.

I have had visions connected to my father and brother. In the last one they were together in a beautiful place all dressed up and elegant looking, almost angelic. There was love and joy in the vision and my heart felt at peace.

My heart is aching in unison with the heart of the family and friends of Jehad. I am sending love and healing vibes to all who have been affected by his passing. I pray for his soul as he finds eternal love and light.

This is our human experience. This is what love feels like.