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.
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