Some life stories grab you by the heart. And from time to time the memory of one of those stories reappears and wraps itself around your soul. They are stories that need to be told again and again. To be passed on and never forgotten. Here is Malin Sävstam’s story.
A truly incredible Story
“I lost two out of my three children – Elsa and Harald – my husband and my best friend, her new husband and one of her children in the Tsunami”. Read that sentence again and let it sink in. The unimaginable and surreal happened to Malin Sävstam in the winter of 2004. What was supposed to be an amazing beach holiday in Thailand ended up being a brutal hell on Earth.
“BANG! The force of the water is impossible to describe. It’s like being hit by a truck. Elsa’s hand is ripped from mine. Our bodies are carried away like rag dolls“, writes Malin in her first book When Life Stops. A diary, thoughts written down on paper to avoid drowning in what they call grief.
“I’m in a washing machine where I’m swirling around, trying to get my head to the surface and inhale. I’m sucked down, struggle up, sucked down and struggle again to get up”.
The 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake was the 3rd strongest earthquake ever measured. The quake caused a huge tidal wave, a tsunami, which devastated large areas along the South-East Asian coast. The countries worst affected were Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand and India. 220,000 to 300,000 people lost their lives. According to the Swedish national police 543 Swedes lost their lives, many of them children.
“There were 10 of us on holiday in Thailand together, only 4 returned“, Malin says, and conversation stops. Because again it takes time to let the meaning of the sentence sink in. “Afterwards I was convinced I was suffering from a life-threatening disease, that’s how painful the grieving was”.
Life after the Tsunami
What happens to people at their lowest, when they reach rock bottom and can’t see a way back up? The priest Louise Linder was at Malin’s side for support and interaction during countless hours. And she encouraged her to write her first book. A story of survival. Malin began to practise yoga and like a godsend she fell in love again. Hence the title of her second book, published six years after the first: Love is Stronger than Death.
She also looked beyond the Swedish borders and ended up in Mallorca, where she lives for large parts of the year. To feel such great love for a Mediterranean island, surrounded by water. It sounds a bit strange, after having experienced a tsunami.
“I’m not fully compatible with water. I can go for a swim but not with my head under water, the thought wouldn’t even cross my mind”, Malin says. “But I love being in Mallorca and I’m fortunate enough to be able to move my job to this amazing island where the sea, the sky and the mountains merge into one”.
Living in the Here and Now
Fourteen years have passed and today Malin Sävstam lectures about the insights a difficult life granted her. She also works as a yoga teacher organising retreats for groups and individuals. Finding balance and living in the present.
“Yoga contains one of the elements that saved my life. And I feel privileged to be able to use this tool helping others. My heart always grows wings when I see how yoga can really help others.” During summer and early autumn Malin holds yoga retreats on Mallorca and in Sweden. And her mantra is very much the word NOW.
“I don’t have a ‘then’ I can relate to. It’s about living life here and now. Paying attention to what I know, because life isn’t waiting for me somewhere further ahead. It’s easy to think: ‘my life begins when I finish this course, or my life starts if I can get this job’, but it’s not true. Life happens all the time. And I have to catch it, all the time. Life consists of all those NOW, stacked one on top of the other”.
Malin Sävstam’s future Plans
To Malin, the future is actually a pretend future. She is fully aware that it may never be. Instead, she has chosen to follow life. “I try to live as well as I’m able to, based on the conditions I have”.
Perhaps there will be a third book, a new villa on Mallorca or something completely different. What actually happened – NOW – was a conversation.
Photos by Pernilla Danielsson