Feed on

“The Management of Grief” by Bharati Mukherjee is a story about an Indian woman, Shaila Bhave, as she copes with the loss of her family due to a terrorist attack. Told in first person present tense, I was able to better understand Shaila as she navigates her life through this tragedy right as it happens. While her perspective is certainly limited, I was still able to see the impact this attack had on her community.

In 1985, Air India Flight 182 was bombed by Sikh extremists. “The Management of Grief” captures the aftereffects of this tragedy very well. It follows Shaila through her stages of grief, while also touching lightly on prejudices that occurred within the Indian community and how multiple individuals coped. As I was reading about the bombing, I found an article (“Getting close to my son who died on Air India 182,” www.bbc.com) written by a man who had interviewed parents that had lost two sons. In this article, the mother talks about the exact moment she learned of the attack. As a scientist, she knew no one could have survived, but, as a mother, she clung to hope. Each year she and her husband visit Ireland as close to the crash site as possible, and hope that their sons will return.

I found this to be incredibly similar to Shaila’s response. Despite overwhelming evidence, she creates a scenario in which her children could have survived, until eventually she comes to terms with their deaths. While she follows the stages of grief predictably and her depression is expected, the story is no less powerful. “The Management of Grief” tells the story of one woman, but, in doing so, is able to encompass the effects this tragedy had on the entire Indo-Canadian community.

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