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Grief: The 4 Year Reflection

Our CEO, Ria Kalsi, reflects on the last 4 years and the impact on her & Matriarch.

Today is 4 years since we lost our Dad, Nab Kalsi. I use the verb ‘lost’ as if we’re going to ‘find’ him. When really, he’s gone. Dad died. And here we are, 4 years later, still living. Life really does go on and it’s a fact I gulp down every day. 

I’m writing this bit on the 14th June, so a few days before. Monday was hard. The grief swelled up in my throat, that feeling when you want to scream and cry. The ache was so strong from the sadness that overcame me, I felt my heart was going to collapse. It astounds me, even 4 years later, the physical ache of Dad not being here. Mum used to describe feeling this ache for her own Dad but I couldn’t comprehend it, not having experienced anything anywhere near as painful. But boy oh boy, the ache is real. It’s like the bottom of my heart, chest and throat has fallen out but also like a balloon is uncomfortably swelling in that space. Then the breathing gets shallow and it’s this real, tremendous ache. 

The ache encompasses it all - not having him, not seeing him, not being able to feel my hand in his or hear him call me ‘Ria baby’ anymore. And even as I write this, my blood runs cold, my hands get clammy and the heat grows on the back of my neck. The grief bubbles up but my sister, Sita, comes over to joke and give me a hug and it dissipates somewhat. But I can feel it still, lurking underneath, ready to burst over the weekend we have coming up. Sunday 16th June, Father’s Day and Monday 17th June, Dad’s anniversary. 

It’s unbelievable now to fathom that there was a time, I would wake up feeling this deep ache every day. A colossal, dark ache that wouldn’t go away no matter how hard I laughed or how heavily I sobbed. Because the deep, unredeemable loss was and is never going to go away. I am beyond grateful to be Nab Kalsi’s daughter but my God it’s a difficult exchange to live in the shadow of so much love. It makes the ache so much deeper. 

And then I flick onto WhatsApp and see my new profile pic - a gorgeous pic may I add - of me genuinely laughing in the sunshine at my best mates birthday in the park last week. I look at her and think, how? In the context of all of this, the loss you live with, how is it you’re able to laugh and find joy like this. I wonder if my friends look and think anything similar. Because if they do, seldom, if ever, does it get mentioned. And it astounds me as I write this, that yes, the last 4 years of my life have been amazing, perhaps the best ever. I’ve got two degrees, launched a successful business etc, all whilst dealing with this unbelievable loss. And I’m still able to smile and look gorgeous during golden hour. But that is just the way it is. Typing this phrase is weird. 

‘The Way It Is’ by Bruce Hornsby was the song we used at Dad’s funeral, because it is just perfect. It perfectly summarised what Dad would’ve said about it all, ‘it is what it is guys, let’s get on with it.’ On the day of his funeral I was fine, totally spaced out really not in reality, but the moment that song started playing I completely broke. And it’s not been until a few months ago I’ve been able to listen to it without completely crumbling. But my dear father, it’s not just the way it is. It’s what we have to live with now and easy for you to say! You don’t know what it is to live without you. 

And yet, we carry on, we choose to every day. Collapsing isn’t in my nature and being my father’s daughter, I’ve always strived to see what light I can make out of this terribly premature, unfair experience. The best way to describe it all, the last four years and where I stand with it all now is a quote I recently discovered from Hamlet. I’ve never read or studied it so I don’t know the context but in Act 4, Scene 5, Ophelia says,

‘I would give you some violets, but they wither'd all when my father died. They say he made a good end.’

I’ve read there’s a wider meaning around the flowers, but that’s not why I care about this quote. Instead, I care because it’s true. There’s a huge part of me, my innocence, my naivety, my heart that withered when Dad died. This is where so much of my sadness lies, in the future I had to say goodbye to along with my father. But what I’d add onto it, is that whilst the violets have withered, sunflowers bloom in the light of his legacy. 

To anyone feeling daunted by the grief they have to now live with for the rest of your life – light will come for you and shine through the cracks as it always inevitably does. 


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