a year without dad

Today is the first anniversary of the death of my dad – May he rest in peace…

I have been dreading this day knowing that it would make me deeply remember my dad (for which I am grateful), my regrets of what I should have done or what I should not have done when he was alive (for which I came to realization that there is nothing to be done), and the sadness I experience  over his death (which is so vivid and continuous)…

I am very sorry that my dad and I did not spend more quality time together. That I could not be a good daughter for him. That I was not with him when he died.

Despite these, I also know that he loved me and looked after me all the time. He forgave me too, for things I should not have said or done. My father was a father alright.

Among all these turbulent emotions, I am glad for a couple of things, too. When my father died, one of the fears I had developed was to forget my dad. I am glad that this has not turned into reality. And lately I thought that when I died, he would guide me and welcome me to death. I know this is ridiculous but it so soothes me and makes me unafraid of death. I am still not interested in dying (when he died I developed fear of my own mortality), but when the time comes I hope I will remember this.

Rest in peace dad. I am sorry for a lot of things. You knew these and you still loved me. For that I am ashamed, awed, and grateful. You know I would not choose another dad, but you. I love you.

Till next time. 

 

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death and forgiveness

Death does interesting stuff to your thinking.

At least, that is what the death of my dad did to me.

I am open about my pain more than I have ever imagined. I am human and I am okay to show it. I do not feel vulnerable or exploited or something like that. No. I feel completely human by talking and showing my grief and as a result, I get completely human responses; nicer, more positive, more emphatic…. I think I am lucky that I have good people around me – not one person said “stop this; you get to get over the death of your dad” or anything else that only an insensitive assh.le could say.

I am also forgiving. After all, what is not to forgive? No one in my life has hurt me physically or psychologically. Yes, there has been people influential on me and I cried, complained, got angry or heart-broken over people or their actions. Yes, I thought there was injustice or unfairness. Yes, I thought that I could do a lot better if I was given equity/equal opportunity. But no matter what, no one has ever hurt me in a way that I could not forgive. I have since then forgiven all and I am feeling good. Like an internal iceberg has melted and I am filled with warmth instead….

Death is a lonely journey. Thinking about someone going thru it is terrifying. It terrified my right before my dad passed away; I was worried about my dad going thru this unknown all alone. Was he scared? I kind of think he might have… I was not there to hold his hand, look at his eyes, and say “it is okay, dad”… It still breaks my heart. Nobody should face death alone. It would be better if our minds and hearts are filled with love and gratitude, rather than fear and loneliness, while approaching our last moments in life.

So when I think about the fact that we all will go thru death, no matter how much we would like to ignore it, I feel the same compassion and affection for all. I do not think anybody in my life really meant to hurt me. And I would not like any one to suffer or be scared during their transition to death. These make forgiveness so easy, so natural.

I cannot believe death can have such a healing effect, but that is what I have experienced.

Hope you can forgive and it has been easier for you than it was for me.

Hope you can forgive someone today.

 

broken

poem

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cannot cry hard enough, dad

my tears are done running

I since then been grieving

 

cannot dream anymore, dad

my inner child is hidden

now that I am regret-ridden

 

worse; cannot fly high, dad

I never will

one of my wings is broken

now that you are gone

 

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fear of forgetting my dad

After a 10 days off from work due to the death of my daddy, I am back to work as of today.

I have been feeling the stress of the accumulated work in the last few days, which drove me crazy; am I supposed to care that much about work? Even so, can I just not take it easy? Reduce my work load or make better use of my time? But most importantly, why is my focus changing from my dad to daily life?

They say life continues, even while you are grieving or right after you have had a significant loss; you somehow need to eat, answer to the phone, go to bathroom, respond to emergencies at work/family, maybe have one laughter or two spontaneously while talking to family or friends. These make sense to me. But stressing myself over work and overly starting to think about it are annoying me. I must be thinking about my dad. Otherwise I feel like I will forget him (this is a fear I developed after the death of my dad; I know it is impossible to forget my dad; can a dad be forgotten? Yet, like any fear, it is quite powerful).

It is not like I do not think about my dad. I do; at nights especially. Looking at his photo sometimes brings tears to my eyes. Sometime, I sob quite violently. Sometimes during the day, like today, I just remember him and remember those times that I could help him better, that I could spend more time with him. These regrets drill my heart. It is painful, horribly painful. I notice that as time goes on I get more regrets than before. It is like I will get more and more of these and one day I will just collapse.

But as a wise fellow blogger, NinaSusan, said yesterday, these feelings/regrets are normal and the important thing is that my dad and I knew we loved each other… This gives me some sense of peace, something to hold my mind onto.

My father was proud of my work and of me for being such a hard-worker. There is quite a meaning in my work, so my dad would like me keep going, too. It also makes me feel better and functional. But the root cause of my fear of forgetting my dad is the priority I give to my work. It was like this in the past for decades and it is highly likely to be so in the future, too.

I am determined not to forget my dad. Whether it is thru putting his photo in my office or dedicating time to continue my letter to him. This baseless fear will eventually go. I will not forget my dad…..

 

 

The delicious part of my life

Yesterday, I wrote about an advice my dad had given me a couple of years ago, about “enjoying the delicious part of life”. I have also mentioned about my intention to read books to help myself see/develop a better route for my future life and self.

Well, I have one book like that, which kind of captured me at its first chapter. It says “we can choose to choose”. We can decide to make choices so that we can look for new ways or alternatives to enrich our life experience and, hopefully, progress into a life we want.

I have a couple of wishes and changes to have, but I would like to come up with more. In order to realize what more I could have, I decided to first note those that I have made my life better than before. I noted them below.

This has been a truly therapeutic exercise for me…. I was not aware until now that I have had actually taken steps to improve my life and my experience, and the way I work or relax, especially in the last few years….. I am happy to see that I actually make changes and improve… And the way I see, my dad would be proud of me for doing all of these and he would see that I actually have a good life. Yes, I am alone and away from family and that I miss mostly, yet almost all other aspects of my life are going well..

Daddy; know that your daughter is doing really well.

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A. Job: I have the best and the most suitable for my self. It is meaningful and usually enjoyable. It is also challenging and sometimes quite stressful because of the pressure (who does not?) we have in terms of constantly having success indicators, deadlines, and output. Yes, I have spent many years at school and got trained in many different places. But I am one of the few lucky or good enough to have a position like mine. So, I must cherish my success. I know I can do better and I will do better, too, as my abilities are increasing each year.

would I change it?: No, not right now. I may develop other interest later in my life, but this is the job I was born for.

things to improve: Better time management and sharper focus to take care of things hopefully on time. I seriously need that to improve my success rate and to reduce my stress levels. I also decided that I do not need to undertake more than I comfortably can.

B. City I live in: A small and safe city where things are simple and easy. In terms of cultural activities, it is a limited place, but at least it is very easy to live here.

would I change it?: If I must change it, I would rather go back home. So, unless something drastic happens (like losing my job), I am not planning to look for jobs somewhere else. If I like, I can visit other cities time to time. I am staying for now and that is good to know.

C. My home: I bought my home 2.5 years ago. A 90 years old town house that was newly renovated, yet 1 week after I moved in, the roof started to leak from two different places. Talking about remorse…It was a cold slap on my face that created anxiety and depression. After a long search for a repair company, I got it fixed after 10 months. So far, no problem with the roof, which is awesome. yet, I have a crack on one of my inner walls, which I was told was a foundation problem. We are waiting for a drastic opening of the crack to start repairing it. It still gives me the depressive moods. Other than these, I am very happy with my home and the way it feels.

would I change it?: Not planning for now.

unexpected benefits of the house problems: Since the house repairs have created anxiety, I last year realized that unless I have changed by current financial situation, I could end up having a huge problem in the future. This was an additional anxiety. This is why I started to have a budget and I am saving way better and more than I ever thought about. My savings are around $10k/year. When I think about this, I kind of feeling like my house actually helps me to save money to take care of it, without sacrificing my quality of life or the life style I have. Hence it is weird but also very satisfying to say that I am very grateful for the initial house troubles that now have made me more abundant and financially sound.

D. My neighborhood: I am happy with it as it is close to everywhere I need to go. I can walk to my office, there are two grocery stores within 10 min of walk, there are 3 convenience stores and many restaurants, it is close to downtown. There are also two bus stops that enable me to go to the shopping centres and the workplace. So convenient in so many different ways.

would I change it?: No

E. My finances: I am doing good and I am grateful, thanks to my job, my budget, and my un-interest for material possession. It is true and hurts time to time that I do not have enough accumulation for my retirement. But I am doing my best to do so; my RRSP contributions are maximized, I have a steady contribution plan for my TFSA account, I have another personal retirement plan with annual contributions, I am planning to increase my retirement contributions a little bit next month. And the only debt I have is my mortgage, which to me is huge. But I will make sure that I pay it off as soon as I can. My TFSA serves as my emergency fund and in case I need funds for house repairs/renovations, I will use these funds. Overall, I am doing my best and it is not too bad.

What would I change: In the new year, as soon as I get a nice amount of emergency and house maintenance funds (that is, my TFSA), I will fully focus on paying off my Home Buyers Plan (HBP) (the funds that I have taken off my RRSP to pay the down payment of my house). RRSP is my long term investment plan and I believe beefing it up is important. Even more important than paying off my mortgage early.

I believe next year I will have a more solid financial health; this year I am still working on saving and making my chequeing account healthy (e.g. not below $0). I spent almost the entire last year with a chequeing account like that, which made me really stressed and kind of feeling hopeless, too. I hope every year will be better than the last year in future…

F. Health and life-style: I am a middle-aged individual and luckily I do not have a chronic disease, maybe except my recent back problem. Bu I still am over-weight and this will be one area that I will focus on, or more like I should focus on….

Plan: I gotta come up with a better plan to help me lose weight. My last two attempts were not successful… let me reflect more on this. I can also walk more, now that weather is better.

For my back health, I will keep the physiotherapy and the daily exercises I was given to. I do not want to have an issue again. i do not want to damage my body again.

G. Social interactions: I am not a social person and I am very happy with it. I only spend time and communicate with a few number of solid and trustworthy people. I will keep this as it is.

H. Taking time off from work to relax and enjoy my time/my life: I have been doing this in the last one year or so! I now do not spend 16 hour a days working or thinking/planning about work! I can usually relax at home, though time to time I still work at home in the evenings or weekends. And that is okay.

Since I started my blog 1.5 years ago, I take my time everyday to express myself and to read other blogs, which has been very informative learning experience. I also watch TV shows and continue to read books. I usually go to bed with a clear (of work troubles) and relax mind.

This is, to me, so priceless.

grief…

I did not know much about grief till my dad died last week. It is strange; it is painful; and it is a lonely journey.

When I say lonely, it does not mean I needed to go thru my days alone. I meant I needed to face, experience, process, and feel it all by myself. Like many of us I guess. It is a personal and unique experience. I do not know whether this is a survival instinct or not, but I think everybody going thru grief may know what is best for them to help go thru it. I hope you all will find these tools when you need them…

My this experience with grief was something that I found interesting. Without thinking, planning, or resisting, I just let it surround me, felt the emotions, and supported myself (and others) as much as I could. I did not work. I did not go to work, though I had to check my emails and involve in some minor urgent matters (I am still resentful about these….I am still resentful that people required my attention during this time… I am still resentful that I did not say no – you should wait…I am resentful about work and all the neglect I have done for it…. ).

In my case, being alone and not communicating with people other than my immediate family helped quite a bit. After all, I felt like words were only words and would not diminish my loss at all. In contrast, I thought they were driving me crazy…Only after a couple of days, words, especially the good wishes and good memories of my dad started to make sense. As a matter of fact, I craved for them. I still do.. Remembering my dad with love and cherishment became a priority for me. These give me peace.

The circumstances around the death my dad also help my grieving process. He had a long life (he was 88), the majority of his life he was healthy, he lived his life in a way that he wanted, he was proud of his children and knew they were okay; and he had great care prior to his death. He did not suffer too much at the end of his life. The last day of his life was great and meaningful. He, I thought, left this world with dignity, without letting life make him suffer any further or any more hurting. Before he became more incapacitated. He was buried by his children (except me; I could not go) and many of his friends were present in his ceremony. Right before his death, we all had become a family, loving, caring, forgiving, and forgiven. I think he died knowing this, which is the most important thing for me.

I do not know whether writing and reading have always been my tools that help me analyze and contemplate (come to think about it; I guess that is correct), but I found reading and writing about grief, death, and my dad very therapeutic….

I wrote my inner conversations with my dad in a long letter that is getting longer each time I write on it…. When I read it time to time, I can see my feelings and all the realizations and sorrow I have gone through. I also see the love I have for him… During one of this readings I had realized that I would have never wished for another person as my dad; if I had an opportunity to have a dad again, he would be the one I wanted. Feeling and knowing this in such a deep sorrow have been incredibly healing….

Why reading about death and grief? To face them. In order to make sure I was not hiding, ignoring, or running away from them. To take the feelings, however saddening they may be, as they were. To live these moments in an authentic way. And most importantly, to fully and openly connect with my dad’s memory…

I may mention about the books I have read in a later post, but I want to say you this; grief and coping with a loss is an individual journey.. The books usually mention about several stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance)… i did not go thru these yet, certainly not in this order. I did not deny my dad’s death for example. I am not bargaining. I am not fully depressed…I am not feeling anger towards him, life, or anyone else. I am just saddened that we could have better memories, more time spent together, and I could care for him more and better…even though I know we all did our best during our lives and with our interactions, I naturally have regrets…. i also know that these do not matter now (i.e. there is nothing I can do to reverse the time) and I can rather focus on all the good memories and all the goodness and peace surrounding his death.

That also means that I have learnt about others’ experiences with death and loss by reading. I am not interested in comparison of pains or the effects the losses put on us; after all everybody has their own memories, their wishes, their regrets, their circumstances, and their emotions to deal with. But I have seen that there were losses that if happened to my dad would have made my grief journey much more painful;  a long-lasting and incapacitating disease for example. Death at a young age… These give me some kind of peace… Maybe I am being selfish or something… Please forgive me if you have experienced such losses and my experience sounds like a selfishly better or less painful one….. No loss is better than the other; but I hope they all have somethings attached to them that give some sense of peace, some sense of serenity….However different they may be for each one of us.

I miss my dad and I love him dearly. May he rest in peace for ever.

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