What I am about to share was derived from my response to an email I received from a very good friend of mine who was encouraging me to allow “grief” to run its course. This may not make any sense to you, but I found that as I wrote it, it helped me process what I have been feeling over the almost 2 months since Dad passed away.
Coping with Grief
The thing I’ve learned in this grieving process; there are no real rules. Rule books go out the window. People tell you what they “think,” but you can’t “think” your way through grief. It’s a journey. Albeit, a journey we all dread. It’s very much a journey of the heart over the head. And the thing is…there’s no shortcut here. It simply is going to take time. At times I feel numbness, which I feel is more of a feeble attempt at a coping strategy for me. When the emotions well up, I take the time I need. Experts try to describe it and have even given stages to it. But honestly, there’s no replacement for going through it yourself. People try to console you, and I’m grateful for their love, support, and understanding. But, people that have been where I am now, are the ones I find the greatest comfort from. Everyone else can try to help, and I welcome their love, but those that have experienced this pain can relate; often without words. I have to admit, in the past I’ve lost loved ones (cousins, grandparents, and friends), but it’s NOTHING like losing Dad.
The Gamut of Grief
I just can’t sit and dwell on the loss of my dad, to do so would be to rob me and my family of what I gained from having such a great father. What’s amazing; with my dad, you can literally be crying one minute and the very next be laughing. While that sounds like a dichotomy of emotions, that’s just how it’s worked for me. People “worry” when someone loses a loved one if they don’t cry “enough”…I have…but each person expresses their grief differently. Crying helps, but is just one small aspect of the grieving process. There’s the heartache, the withdrawals, the emptiness, the loneliness, the anguish, the sleeplessness, the hunger loss, the denial, the anger, the doubt, the confusion, the questions…the list goes on and on.
Dad is Still Teaching Me
I thought with the passing of my father that I would no longer be able to learn from him; not true. I’ve learned a great deal from him even though he has passed on.
- I’ve learned to listen more attentively.
- Care more deeply.
- Take more time with loved ones.
- Linger longer with loved ones.
- We need one another.
- Our life isn’t about what we’ve done; it’s about who we’ve become.
- Rather than be bitter about the moments you’ll miss – be grateful for the ones you’ve had.
- To obsess over the joys you’ll never again experience, is to overlook the joys yet on your horizon.
- When someone says their sick – even if you think they’re not, if they’re feeling it, be sympathetic.
- Sometimes people can’t always put into words what or how they feel; they just need someone to listen and take them seriously.
- You’ll never have enough time with a loved one – you’ll always want just one more moment, one more day, one more phone call, one more email, one more voicemail.
- The things you’ll miss the most are the hugs, the warm embraces, the touch of their hand, the sound of their voice, the sound of their laughter, the excitement in their eyes, the times you laughed together and the times you cried.
- The slowest thing to heal is a broken heart – sometimes it never completely recovers.
- Don’t put-off saying what needs to be said.
- There are just some things you will never fully understand…in this life.
- Death and the loss it brings touches more than just the family of the loved one.
I Don’t Want to Get Over Losing Dad
This is going to sound strange, but I don’t want to “get over” losing my dad. I want the tenderness of his memory to make me still get emotional. Whether it makes me laugh or cry, I want the full impact of his memory to live on inside of me. Even if it hurts to think of him, I still want it. Even if it makes me cry for no reason, and at the wrong times, I still want it. My dad made me laugh more in his lifetime than some fathers could do in 10 lifetimes. The occasional bout with tears are a small price for the laughter he brought me…and continues to bring me when I least expect it in the fondness of his memory.
- A Cowboy Called Home – Poem Dedicated to my Father
- Behold Thy Mother – Thoughts of Christ at His Crucifixion
- What Made Christ Weep – The Loss of a Friend
- Groaning and Weeping With Us and For Us – Christ’s Ability to Relate
- When Pain Feels Like Punishment – Properly Coping with Pain
Update: The 3rd year my father’s passing, August 7, 2011 has come and recently there have been friends and family who have lost loved ones. As a way to remind myself of the lessons, and to encourage others, I decided to update and re-post this article. My prayer is these words bless you and that you feel not only my hand in yours, but ultimately the Lord’s Hand of comfort most of all, as you join others on this journey I call the “Gamut of Grief.” ~ Rodger Mangold
4 thoughts on “The Gamut of Grief”
You’ve come a long way — that much is clear from your posting. You’re seeing what a gift your father was for you, and that’s something that endures throughout your life.
I see that writing about your experience is helping you, and it certainly helped me. I published that writing in “Loving Grief.” You might want to look at http://www.lovinggrief.com and see if the book is of interest to you.
Thanks for the encouragement – I find writing is therapeutic for helping me process not only my thoughts but my feelings as well. What I read of your excerpt was very insightful and yet another viewpoint on the passing of a loved one. I found the wall a very fitting analogy of death. If you carry it out further, gradually that wall will become a curtain through which we will all pass. Blessings Paul – thanks again Sir.
You have written a masterpiece here about the gamut of grief. You should post this in your notes on Facebook. My father died 26 years ago, my grandmother, 27 y/ago, and my brother, 20 y/ago this Christmas. I think about them every day of my life. We still laugh and cry about them. People who mean well will tell you they know how you feel but the truth is that unless one has been through the exact same situation they cannot know. Today when I express condolences I never say that. I usually say how sorry I am and that I am praying. I also say that that there are no words to express what they are going through. There are no words adequate to express those feelings. Blessings, Sandra Rone Mireles
I didn’t realize so many in your close circle passed in August…for me it was the year 2014 that was filled with such amazing loss, from my dad, Aunt Marion, my pastor, my church, then Uncle Charlie and Jeff’s aunt, Dorothy…but whatever the timing or the who – you are so right in that EVERYONE will experience it at some point. I shared with Uncle Spencer how Cory’s testimony affected Jeff so deeply back in 2009. He watched videos of him singing and read post after post – and he truly grieved when he passed – this young man he had never met. It wasn’t long after Jeff began to pray about his calling to the ministry. We never know who is listening to us – in whatever way. I’m so thankful for this heritage we have, and the legacy we are blessed to continue. It is my only desire that when I leave this earth, people remember that I loved the Lord, and His people! Thank you for sharing this with me at this time!