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.