Lessons in Grief

If living here on Earth is school, grief is a course most of us would want to skip out of.

It is 1 month today that my father died. I have a hard time saying that he is no longer "with" us because in truth, I know he has been with us.

It's just different now.

Grieving has been an emotional roller-coaster for his family; no surprises there. It's strange how in one moment I can be encouraging a family member to "fully feel" their emotions all the while feeling very in control of my own emotions and not too long afterwards I completely lose it.

There have been good days and bad as I go through this process. About 1 week ago I finally began to give the appearance that I am functioning. It wasn't easy to get there. Even as I look back I am amazed at my family members who had no choice but to return to their jobs and be out in the real world. How grateful I am to be unemployed!

Yesterday I left my house and didn't cry once. That was huge to me. It means I am coming to grips with this loss.

I have had friends and family who experienced their father's passing and although I felt sympathetic to them, I didn't really understand. My relationship with my dad was not picture-perfect; I am sure no one's truly was. At the end of the day, he was my dad and I believe that he always wanted the best for me and he always believed that I was good enough.

My dad was a man of few words but when he did speak, the words had meaning. I know in my heart that he would want us all to move forward with our lives. I know he wouldn't want regrets because he knows they are a waste of time.

I am still struggling with that.

We humans are not supposed to live forever. It is expected that as we age our bodies are going to wear out and sometimes our quality of life lessens because of that. We are not the same person we were in our youth. We are still valuable to our loved ones as we often focus on what the person means to our lives. When an older person dies, we want more time. We don't want to let go.

My dad's life had changed so much the past few years. Although, for the most part, my dad's mind was fine save the occasional forgetfulness, his body was breaking down. He'd joke about needing "new knees" when tackling too many walks up and down the stairs. There were magnifying glasses all over the house to help his poor eyesight. He had headphones that he used to listen to television so that the rest of the household didn't have to. After he lost his job (when he was 80!) he started to act like he was waiting to die.

Probably the final straw was when his doctor recommended that he give up his driver's license. Dad loved to drive and I think that losing that freedom helped to put his will on a downward decline.

I remember when he was forced to give up driving and I felt for him. I couldn't imagine how helpless he must have felt. My dad was always independent and with my mom working, he was stranded at home all day.

Yes, the last few years of his life he became a different man. A man who was feeling defeated by his own aging and also by a world that he felt he didn't fit into because of technology and a various other changes.

When I think about these last few years, yes, he did have moments of enjoyment, but on the whole, he wasn't very happy.

I think sometimes my siblings and I focus too much on the dad we knew in happier times. The dad with the quick wit. The dad you went to for advice. The dad who kept you on your toes by quizzing you about history or other subjects. The dad we remembered from our growing up and early adult years.

That man became lost to the aging process.

So as I sit here reflecting one month after his passing, I have to be at peace with it all. Dad was ready. It's selfish to not accept it.

He lived a good life and like I said before, he didn't LEAVE us. He is still here. I feel him in the stillness of the early mornings as I watch the darkness turn into a new day. I thank him daily for never failing to love me even though I wasn't always worthy of it. I thank him for all the gifts he gave us.

I know that he was a highly evolved soul and I don't fear where he is now. I know he is free and surrounded by everlasting love. I just miss him and I guess I always will until I leave here and we are reunited.

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