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On Grief

STOA was built to use thoughtful design in creating its objects with sustainability in mind, and use art to improve our wellbeing, to live a life of purpose and provide jobs for others. A year after choosing this name to represent the brand, STOA has quietly become a way of life, slowly becoming an irreversible process of change in mindset in what we try to do.

Releasing products requires that we have the best ingredients, and that procuring them doesn't hurt anyone, but at the same time keeping costs low for affordability. While that is almost sorted out, we look into other things to keep our yes on the goal: to make a difference in people's lives the way it has brought inspiration to me and the collaborators of STOA since 2017.

When I have questions about how to best deal with situations with the least conflict, I ask my mentors/collaborators out to coffee and bathe in their advice. As it became almost a regular thing, we thought that opening a blog section might help others the way these conversations have helped us during our darkest times. We would exchange books and passages in it (we have started doing this finally), or sometimes I go straight into searching what the Stoics might say about a topic, and I go about my day feeling assured that the response to these situations will benefit everyone as I make these decisions. 

Life has always acted in ways that have surprised us with polarizing results. It just felt like the perfect time to do this as my colleagues and I in the band UDD, have been trying to cope with the grief of losing Sherwin—UDD’s road manager, technical manager and friend for 12 years.

Although we always did have time for some fun and laughs, our old photos together showed what time has done to us. The bigger the shows were, the busier we got. It was always about work the last 4 years. My regrets revolve around not trying harder to connect instead of burying myself in a book or on my phone scrolling endlessly for good news when there was good happening in front of me. I was working with people who valued the same things I did, we all came here from being young dreamers who just loved music.

Seneca advised to deal with grief without denial or distractions. To look at life or see it for what it is before its eventual end. It was difficult to get any sort of healing started but after reading this, I realized proactivity would do more help than harm (it often does), and resolved to combine it with the things I was taught by much wiser friends.

I remember my first taste of grief. I couldn’t understand how swift it was, that all I did was ask why. “We stay behind so that the ones who have left us, have someone to remember them.”, a good friend of mine said. It seemed to be the puzzle piece to another advice—which was to honor the lives of the ones who have passed by sharing their most positive traits through action.

It may take some time to see the true essence of someone’s legacy. For me, it was evident through the friends of Sherwin when I finally met them. To see or experience the work he left behind was another way of seeing both sides of him: he did everything with such precision and built a system for everyone to move around with ease whether or not he was okay. He would tell interns to befriend everyone to guarantee a good time at work and it made perfect sense, because he always broke the ice wherever we were.

Another dear friend, who had passed in 2015, was one of my guides in life. One of the things I continue to remember about him was that he was literally always there for me. He would tell me to type away and would promise he would read back and answer promptly and did this even on his busiest day at work. As it turns out, he was consistently like that to ALL of his friends and I found this out after meeting some of them for the first time. No doubt that was his legacy for a lot of us.

It felt great to change the results by actively switching up my response to loss for the first time. I hopped on that video call with another friend from across the world, something we had planned weeks back. Instead of retreating to my loneliness, the result was 3 hours of catching up. Best decision that week.

If we shut ourselves out, we miss out on the important details of life—it doesn’t even have to be about our own lives. Sometimes, it’s as simple as listening to someone pour it out, see another perspective. Let them know we are right there, a call away. Talking about things makes it more real. It takes true love for someone to inquire with utmost sincerity and friendships are supposed to have this kind of love, too.

It would be hard to quantify a person’s love for us. I am sure I wont be able to return that equally but I also feel that being aware that this loss isn’t supposed to end with me, that I have to look out for my friends or perhaps just be gentle overall to others who may be losing themselves deep down, would bring more improvement in some ways.

I still think it is best to be reminded that truly, nothing lasts forever. Maybe then we can keep living in the moment when we are near those who are dear to us, when we catch ourselves stuck in the past. To live nobly as best as we can, without forgetting what we can still do for others around us.

Yours in the path to wellbeing,
Armi Millare
Founder/ Creative Director
Stoa Studios