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Prior to reading “The Management of Grief” by Bharati Mukherjee, I learned the story is based off of an Air India Flight 182 which crashed over the Irish Sea in 1985. All passengers had been killed, most being Hindu and Indian. The bombing was caused by an extremist group of Sikh, the youngest of the world’s religions, typically form Punjab.

“Why does God give us so much if all along He intends to take it away?” (436)

The protagonist, Shaila Bhave, loses her two sons and husband on the plane crash and is left to deal with the internal conflict of what the future may hold, religious views, and the gender roles of the society. In the Indian culture, women rely heavily on their husbands for supporting a means of living, once the man of the family has died the responsibility falls on someone who has never worked before, needing to support a family.

Shaila’s struggle through her tragic loss had similarities to “The Namesake” by Jhumpa Lahiri. Both stories addressed the importance of the first names in Indian culture, and how typically people are formally addressed by their last names, as opposed to first names. “The Namesake” shows this through the protagonist, Nikihl, conflict between an Indian name or a more American name. This also correlates to the struggle Shaila has between the Indian culture and the Canadian culture she lives in now. The struggle is shown through her daughter Pam and the continuation of traditions from a traditional Indian life. Traditions mentioned, other than addressing people by last names, is the flowers people had been told to give an Indian person on page 440. In Indian culture flowers show unity through diversity, hence why the Irish people were told to give them flowers.

The story itself connects to the title by the protagonist going through the stages of grief as the story continues; denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. Shaila shows this through her conflict with her daughter, Pam, and her friend, Kusum. Resulting in the acceptance of her life’s drastic change, stating “Go, be brave.”

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