After many years of illness, which had worsened in the past week or so, the King of Thailand passed away today. The country is in mourning, and will be officially for the next year. The flag will be at half mast for the next 30 days. Government officials will dress in black for the next year. The people of Thailand are devastated as the King was truly loved and revered. He did so much for the Thai people during his time as King. A nice write-up of the King's life can be found here.
When I saw the news this morning, my heart was broken. Even though this had been expected for several years now, it still came as shock. I was devastated for the Thai people, but I was affected by the news more than I had expected, especially given the distance of time and space that I now have from Thailand. I felt as if it were my King who had died and I mourned right along with the people. All day at work, I felt sad and couldn't focus on work. But I had no one to talk to about this. Who else could understand why I felt the way I did despite the fact that I am not Thai, am not in Thailand, and it is not my King who has died?
Luckily, a good friend whom I met in Thailand, and who returned to the U.S. just a mere three months ago, called me tonight to commiserate. She has been feeling the same way as I do, just completely crushed by the news. She even had a good cry this morning after hearing the news. We talked about how strange it is that we only lived in Thailand for two (me) to three (her) years; yet, we feel so close to the people and the country that the loss is like our own. It is true that Thailand still fees more like home to me than the U.S., but my grief still took me by surprise. It was nice and cathartic to be able to process this and talk to someone who understands and can sympathize without me having to explain anything.