Dee Hati Grief Centre — reaching out to those in need

Dee Hati Grief Centre’s recent event held at HAUS KCH. The event was organised to raise awareness of grief counselling. Co-founder Faizul (second from left) and his father (third from left) alongside team members.

It is common to experience grief after losing those important to us. However, it can be traumatising and lead to protracted grief for some people. The Dee Hati Grief Centre aims to provide holistic support to those who are grieving and also to spread knowledge on how to cope with grief.

Making the world a better place

DEATH is part of life. And grieving for the bereaved is a phase one goes through. Though the process of it is simple, grieving for some can cause prolonged devastation. Sharing her story of her sister’s recent passing, Nur Sabrina Zuraimi, who was in Japan when it happened, felt as if her whole world crumbled upon hearing the news.

“I cried throughout the whole bus ride home. Only when I reached home was I able to video call my family back in Malaysia. Facing a loss this big and in such a tragic way is horrible. But it was even more horrible because I was alone in Japan. Since it was the height of COVID-19, it meant that I couldn’t go back straight and had to grieve alone,” she recalled the saddening experience. 

Though she did return home a month after the passing, everything else that happened before was a blur for Sabrina as she was trying to make sense of the situation. “It all seemed surreal. The first week was full of prayers with everyone through Zoom. We were calling other members of the family to check up on them, and we cried together.

Thankfully, my friends in Japan were supportive, and many reached out to my family.”

As she grieved alone, she learned that everyone’s experience was different. Elaborating further, Sabrina said, ”While the five stages of grief are something we hear often, grief itself does not always progress linearly. I find myself going through these five stages randomly, some stages being more intense than others.”

Proposed healing garden at the Dee Hati Grief Centre in Sri Muhibah Resident, Kuching, which is currently being renovated.

Sharing an analogy to explain grief, Sabrina said it was like being in a shipwreck and stuck at sea.

“The waves represent grief, with the early days bringing on stronger and frequent waves. As time goes by, the waves get milder but sometimes strike without any warning,” she said.

As the waves strike unpredictably, Sabrina continues to persevere alongside her family members in Malaysia. Grieving may sound simple, however, what happens when it never stops? “My dad was also struggling with this difficult emotion called grief. But he did what he usually does when he does not understand things. He read about grief, talked to professionals about grief and found out that there was no such grief centre in Malaysia.”

This sparked an idea in the mind of Sabrina’s father, Datuk Ir Zuraimi Sabki. “He wanted to do something to honour my sister’s name and building the first grief centre with her name — Diyana Zuraimi — seemed like a great idea.

“Working on the grief centre proved a good distraction. We got together with some of my late sister’s good friends, sometimes planning the centre together, and sometimes just cried and shared stories about her,” she revealed.

Dee Hati Grief Centre

Conceptualised in August 2021, Dee Hati Grief Centre aims to provide holistic support to those who are grieving.

Speaking to its co-founder, Faizul Zuraimi, he said that the incorporation of the grief centre as a foundation had been approved a year after Diyana’s passing on August 1. The renovation works had also been progressing well.

“We anticipate that the work will be completed in September 2022. With this, we hope to normalise grief support within our community,” he added.

For now, the team behind Dee Hati Grief Centre has made a few engagements to raise awareness through its social media platforms, Instagram and Facebook, community events, and a television interview. According to Faizul, the centre is still undergoing its incorporation process, but the Sarawak state government has approved the use of Sri Muhibah Residence near Reservoir Park for the centre to operate there.

“Once operations have commenced, volunteers can undergo grief support training and psychological first aid training (PFA) to equip themselves with the right skills. The modules are currently being developed in a planned collaboration with Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS),” added Faizul.

With the capacity to support and a building to house the organisation, the first grief centre in Sarawak will be the platform for people to receive grief counselling from trained members. “They will also be able to experience the healing garden and participate in activities such as painting and gardening,” he said.

Grief and trauma

Grief and trauma are strong feelings that cause pain and hurt. In describing grief, Dee Hati Grief Centre co-founder Dr Nur Iwana Haji Abdul Taib said, “It is a sense of loss, which can or cannot be seen. Losses that can be seen are the loss of a loved one, pets or material things. Losing the purpose of life, roles and bodily functions are losses that cannot be seen.”

Meanwhile, trauma is a physical or psychological experience that develops after a person goes through an impactful situation, especially when there is any threat to life. “For both of these situations, providing support in the form of a listening ear or validating conversations with no judgements can help the most.”

However, Dr Iwana said not everyone required emotional support. “Sometimes physical support through lending a helping hand or linking to social agencies will provide them relief and alleviate stress during these moments,” she added.


For the community to help people who are grieving or traumatised, Dr Iwana explains the dos and don’ts:

Dos:

  • Identify the person’s needs first before providing them with your help. Examples of needs are information, emotional validation, logistic issues or financial aid.
  • Acknowledge their difficult situation.
  • Validate their emotions.

Donts:

  • Do not be judgemental. 
  • Avoid giving unhelpful statements such as ‘Just be patient’ or ‘This is just a test from God’. 
  • Taking things personally to yourself, as those who are going through grief and trauma, may unintentionally hurt you. Acknowledge that they are going through a rough time. 
  • “However, these lists are not exhaustive. Those who are interested in learning more about supporting those in grief or trauma are invited to join our training programme once it is available,” said Dr Iwana as she encouraged many to be part of De Hati Grief Centre.

What we feel are biologically wired

Recent site visits to ensure the centre is well renovated for its future use.

As humans, we are biologically wired to feel and emote appropriately based on our environment. “For example, we feel scared in a dangerous situation, which helps us to avoid it and survive. The same goes for other emotions, such as happiness and sadness. It is normal for human beings to have negative feelings.”

Continuing further, the medical officer in psychiatry shared the Kubler Ross model of stages of grief, which consists of denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. “A person who is grieving may experience all these phases or stages. However, most of us can process grief healthily through our religious or cultural methods.”

But in certain circumstances, a person may fall into complicated grief or prolonged grief that is associated with the risk of other disorders such as depression and posttraumatic stress disorder. 

Thus, Dee Hati Grief Centre steps in to provide the support that is needed. To follow updates and events, the centre regularly updates on Instagram and Facebook. The public is also encouraged to join in the mission to help those in need.

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