How to grieve like a setback leader?

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Duh, Pagglait (crazy moron)! Is that even a thing? No, there isn’t. And Pagglait, on Netflix, proves it beautifully. Why are we talking about ‘grieving right?’ Grief is grief; what’s right or wrong about it? Let’s find out from the narration of Pagglait.

Depiction of Grief – Pagglait Way

The movie starts with a man delivering mattresses to a house where someone had just died. One of the elderly people bargaining with him for the daily rental of those mattresses even as he is heavily grieving while saying, “We won’t bargain; we just lost our son!”

Relatives keep pouring in one by one and pay their condolences. While some of them show signs of insensitivity with unnecessary tantrums or gossiping, others try to keep it low key. Amidst all this chaos, someone asks how about ‘Sandhya’, how is she doing? 

That’s when we are introduced to our protagonist, a five-month-old bride who is unable to feel any form of sorrow for her young husband’s untimely death. As she struggles between her hunger pangs, boredom, and expectation of her family to behave in a certain way, she chooses to lock herself inside her bedroom instead of facing the world.

On the other hand, we see, apart from the deceased’s parents, everyone else in some way or the other insensitive or indifferent around the demise of this young soul while expecting others to behave more convincingly grief-ridden!

Source: Pagglait, Netflix

How to Grieve right? Is there a prescription?

If we look from the lens of the ‘standard behaviour of grief’, other than the parents, everyone else seems to be defying the standards grossly. Sometimes even the parents’ grief come across as fake when they persuade their newly widowed daughter-in-law to remarry even before their deceased son’s final rights are complete, simply so that the family fortune that the deceased left behind remains within the family!

When every family member behaves weirdly, why are the same people expecting others to act within the standards? Isn’t it hypocrisy?

In reality, there are no standards on “How should your grieve?” There is no blueprint of the perfect way to grieve.

Some people may cry profusely.

Some may go on isolation.

Some may get inspired to do more and be more.

Some become stoic.

Some may show, do, or don’t do unexpected things.

Every person’s mindset, process, and tools are different when it comes to dealing with grief. Hence, expecting someone to precisely behave the way others grieve is not only insensitive but borderline cruel.

Source: Pagglait, Netflix

Death, Grief, Setback Leadership, and Beyond

In fact, in my Book, Setback Leadership, in Chapter 8 – Death and Beyond, I have shared precisely the same sentiments around death and grieving. 

While there is no ‘standard’ way to grieve, it is essential to let the grief take shape in your mind, as Sandhya does in her journey to explore her suffering during the movie. Often, grief starts with a SHOCK, numbing people’s thought process and actions, slowly moving the person to DENIAL, NEGOTIATION, and finally ACCEPTANCE. It’s important to let people go through these stages in their way, taking their own time and showing or not showing certain pre-defined emotions.

It’s time to stop putting performance pressure when someone has just lost a loved one by expecting them to behave or don’t behave in a certain way. The deceased has left behind aplenty to deal with for his or her loved ones – the sooner we realize this, the more empathetic we would become. The least we can do is be compassionate towards the living beings around us in a time of crisis like death.

What I found most heart-warming is that the movie isn’t loud and subtly makes viewers realize this fact. Sandhya is left to explore her grief or not in her way, taking her own time and finally accepting the reality as it is. She eventually takes inspiration from this entire experience to explore herself and her dreams. Her last dialogue, “People think I have become mad. But when women come to their true senses, the entire world calls them crazy anyway.” Also, when she says, “I have realized if I don’t take my own decisions, others will take them on behalf of me, whether I like them or not”, it is utterly powerful. Also, Sandhya crying for her late husband when she truly felt it, even if it is on the 10th day after his demise, brings home the point beautifully.

I haven’t seen a more ground-breaking movie in recent times on death and grief. Kudos to the makers for exploring grief in an incredibly unique and endearing way. This is the authentic setback leadership is all about. My recommendation, go see Pagglait on Netflix as soon as you can to become more receptive to the idea of different types of griefs.

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