Huma Z Ahmed
Life/mindset coach & Author
”Growing up in Bahrain in a loving family, I shared a particularly close relationship with my mother. Ammi was more than an anchor for our family; she was a trusted confidante and my most ardent supporter. In 2014, Ammi was diagnosed with stage 1 cancer. Following several months of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, she was declared cancer-free. But much to our horror, in 2015 the cancer was back, and this time it had metastasized. I am a religious and spiritual person, so I was steadfast in my faith and didn’t lose hope. I always believed that God would answer my prayers and that Ammi would somehow be cured.
In late 2015, Ammi was receiving oncological treatment in Arizona, USA (where my two brothers reside). I was back in Bahrain working and helping to care for my elderly grandmother. Even as doctors were telling us that her prognosis was bleak and her health was deteriorating, I was undeterred. When I spoke to her on the phone, I would make plans for the future, doing my best to remain calm. Post-radiation therapy, when I found her to be a little more energetic and able to do small tasks by herself, I felt encouraged. Though I experienced moments of desperation, I pushed them out of my mind and instead focused on positivity; I had seen and heard of miraculous recoveries before. I had no reason to believe that God would not save my mother.
In November, my brothers were updating me regularly about Ammi’s treatment. We avoided speaking about the worst-case scenario, instead concentrating on what we could do to support her. As she became less responsive to treatment, I made plans to travel to the US. Prior to travelling, I was composed and calmly went about running errands. Later, when my father drove me to the airport, I received a text message from my younger brother containing a supplication Muslims recite when a person is about to die. I couldn’t look at that message and I refused to read it. I lost control and started crying. It’s really hard to go back to that moment because I am reminded of how the reality of the situation hit me like a ton of bricks. When I think back now, of course they were tears of sadness, but they were also tears for the realization that life and death were beyond my control.
My father could not travel with me at that time (as he had to stay in Bahrain to care for my grandmother) and I faced the long journey ahead (from Manama to Arizona) on my own. At take-off I felt troubled, confused and stressed. At some point during the flight, I fell asleep, and without going into detail, I experienced a profound dream – an epiphany. I woke up feeling transformed. The dream helped me understand that I am human, tiny, powerless in the face of life and death. Acceptance of this allowed me to shed my arrogance and ego. Of course, I was sad, but surrendering and placing trust in God’s plan was the greatest comfort.
Upon reaching Arizona after my long flight, I went directly to the hospice where Ammi had been admitted. I spent several hours with her before she finally passed. I cherish the time I had with her. When she finally left us, I felt grateful that I had been blessed with a wonderful mother. I humbly and sincerely accepted the grief.
At each of life’s milestones, whether it’s a birth, marriage or death, there is a whole new world of people that enter your life. When I returned to Bahrain, many of my mother’s longtime friends came to condole and pay their respects. I appreciated their loving words and the fact that they took the time to console me. What I noticed however was that when people spoke of their own experiences, even when they had lost a loved one years ago, their pain was still fresh. Their sentiments of loss and grief were almost palpable. They had not dealt with their own feelings of bereavement.
It occurred to me that no one should have to be trapped in their sorrow for so long. I empathized and thought long and hard about how I could help these women come to terms with their losses and burdens. As I considered this, I began jotting down precious memories about my mother’s final days. For me, writing was cathartic and allowed me to articulate how much I had gained from loss. Before I knew it, I had written down 37 lessons and I realized that THIS was my contribution to supporting those processing pain. My book “37 Lessons on How to Gain from Loss: A Believer’s Journey from Trial to Triumph” was published earlier this year. I smiled when I thought of the title, because my mother’s name ‘Fouzia’ means triumph in Arabic.
I pray that my book can benefit others experiencing grief or help prepare people (particularly caregivers) facing an inevitable loss. Most importantly, I want people to understand that as upsetting as loss can be, we can also gain from it. My ultimate message is that we are born free, so we should simply be free.
Through my journey, I have realized the importance of humility, sincerity and putting all your trust in God – no matter what the outcome. I am now a certified life coach and mindset trainer. I do what I can to help individuals transform their trials into triumphs. I have arrived at the conclusion that the purpose of life is simple. It is to be happy, grateful and satisfied with what you have and to approach the future with anticipation and eagerness. I do my best to live life by this simple truth.”