Grieving is never easy to cope with, but when you have kind-hearted people within the community who can to lift the human spirit, it makes a big, big difference.
Although I was saddened to read of the demise of Mrs. Foo’s husband who lost the battle with colon cancer in July this year, I am happy to know that there are, in our midst, kind-hearted people who know how to feel for another human being in the report (“Grieving widow finds solace in neighbours”; The Sunday Times, Sunday, September 4, 2016).
With more than 90 percent of Singaporeans living in HDB flats, where neignbours are physically as close to us as our own relatives in our own homes, it is vital that giving a helping hand or a listening ear is put into practice every day or at least when someone has fallen by the wayside.
The single most important factor in healing from loss is having the support of other people. Even if you aren’t comfortable talking about your feelings under normal circumstances, it’s important to express them when you’re grieving. Sharing your loss makes the burden of grief easier to manage. And I am glad that Mrs. Foo has the courage to talk openly about her loss.
The other advantage of being blessed with kind- hearted neighbors is that they can be the ‘eyes and ears’ for you when you go overseas for a holiday or on business trips. In such situations, good neighbors can watch out for each other and their property. Living in a proactive neighborhood can increase your family’s safety, as a watchful eye can help thwart criminal activity and promote a safer area.
If you have potted plants that requires watering once or twice a day, helpful neighbors can do this chore for you otherwise your plants will wither away and die if it does not get the attention it needs. To show our appreciation to such helpful neighbours and to build on the healthy relations, it would be good if some souvenirs can be presented to the neighbor who helped out when we return overseas. Such gifts will be a constant reminder of good neighborliness.
At other times when you are short on supplies for cooking, such as fresh ginger or chilies because you had forgotten to buy these from the wet market, neighbors can help to temporary replenish it. On a few occasions, my helpful Malay lady who lives 3 houses away from my flat has willing given me these items, and in turn when I have extra groceries like sugar, biscuits and ready-to-cook Maggie Mee packets, I would give her some.
My wife, Doris and I were blessed to have some helpful and supportive neighbors when we first got married in 1974. Our immediate neighbors to our right and left, both Chinese; as well as a Malay family who lived 4 doors away from our flat were not in any way biased towards Doris although they knew she had a serious mental disorder in Schizophrenia which splits the mind when a relapse occurs.
They would rally around us, buy us meals, bring us gifts during Christmas and comfort both my wife and me whenever Doris was ill in hospital and returned home. It was good neighborliness that helped prevent my wife from suffering from relapses for 5 long years when we lived in our rental flat in Ang Mo Kio Avenue one; and I will always cherish those wonderful memories.
Raymond Anthony Fernando