As I mark 600 days today since my father’s death I reflect on what I have learnt in the hope that my journey will offer some hope to a daughter or a son in the midst of their deep grief.
This journey is not easy and no it does not get easier either. I still miss my Dad like crazy just like I did when I first realised after his funeral that his passing had changed my life forever.
The difference between then and now is that I am almost my own expert. I can spot events, places and scenarios that have the potential to lift my spirits or take me down. I am not quite there yet as I am taken aback very surprisingly just when I tell myself I am doing okay but I know now when that happens is to just let it be.
Grief is not a predictable journey. Some experts have commented on the shock, anger,denial numbness and adjustment phases which I relate to but my grief is unique to me. It is unique as our DNA, unique to my closeness with my father and it is unique to our relationship so there is no comparison to be had.
So I will say by all means read what others have to say but use what works for you and discard the rest.
This is what I have observed and learnt from my grief journey 600 days on-
1. It is true it is hard for others to understands me or my grief. Why should they? They have not walked my journey and how can anybody understand how special my Dad was to me? Why should they get what my pain or sadness is about?
That said I have come across some genuine individuals friends and complete strangers who don’t pretend to understand and that is often a starting point.
2. Don’t fight tears- I’ve never cried myself to sleep nor have I shed so many tears as I have in the last 600 days. Those few who have seen me cry have never seen me cry before. At first I would apologise but I don’t anymore. It is really okay. 5 months into my grief I realised I have no control.
The feeling of grief and deep sadness was so numbing and profound that I surrendered to it completely. I gave myself permission to grieve afterall I had lost the longest relationship I had had since I was born. The one person I trusted the most was gone how am I was supposed to be?
I knew I had to grieve so that one day I could stand up and walk again.
My current description of my grief is like making an emergency stop after driving in 5th gear. I hear a loud bang it transpires it was an earthquake and I am the midst of heavy fog with no visiblility when my father died but slowly I can see the road ahead. There is debri around me the road is cracked some buildings have crumbled but there are some in tact. I am driving in 2nd gear hanging to what’s left called my life and things that are familiar knowing full well that my home may not be there but I still need to find my way home. Anything that offers you any form of stability even if it is temporary is worth holding on to as for example, work. My work has been my saviour.
3. Be kind to me- It really is easy for me to beat myself up but if there is one time in my life I need to lower my expectations of me or give myself some slack it is now. Nobody can do that only I can. I have very high standards and expectations of how I should be I thought I would be just fine when my father died. I was never so wrong. In my depth of my grief I wasn’t a professional trying to manage a difficult situation that would be easy. I was my Daddy’s little girl totally lost and yearning so that I could hold his hand and he would guide me out of this fog. This is the time I needed his hand on my head the most to tell me everything will be fine but he had to go and I had to face this on my own.
4. I will never get over his death – his death is not like a broken limb. I have a broken heart but the arteries are intact so I breathe. I look just fine. It would be an insult to both my father and I if I get over his death. I have come to accept that in many ways through me my father lives on. Not a single day has gone when I have not spoken to my Dad. I say good morning and good night just like before. I know he is not here in physical form but I can’t imagine living the rest of my life without my Dad being part of my life. Moving on is not the right phrase to use but perhaps moving forward..may be.
5. Forgive myself- I can carry regrets of things I did or words I said that caused hurt to my Dad but he was so magnanimous he never held that against me. I can’t change the past but I can learn from it. My father loved me. Period.
6. Forgive those who unknowingly trespass and cause hurt- I could write a long list of insensitive comments and remarks I have had but it won’t help. Remember most people mean well and so it is best to forgive them for they do not understand.
7. Self preservation-this can be mistaken for self indulgence. Do what you feel is comfortable and right for you. Avoid people and places that drain you. I noticed my energy levels are significantly lower than before, I am easily tired and exhausted I don’t have the energy to engage in meaningless small talk at times. I recoginse that and give a wide berth to anything that is likely to upset my balance of mind.
8. Be grateful- I count my blessings. I am grateful to all those kind souls who have dipped in and out of my life to lend me support of some kind. I am grateful to God for I know more than ever I have been held. I am grateful to myself for I am dealing with the most difficult phase of my life in a commendable manner. I am grateful to my wonderful father and for our relationship. He made me feel very special and invincible I thank him for his constant guidance through this maze even though he is not here in person.
If you happen to come cross this blog because you are going through a difficult journey yourself don’t lose faith. After 600 days of being in my mental and emotional war zone with myself I am still standing. And so will you. Just be patient and take it one moment at a time.
Peace be with you.