Here is what I have learned about grief during the last year: It goes on. I thought that when my dad died I was as prepared as I could be. I thought that when we were able to plan a funeral and when I stood in front of a packed Church to deliver my dad’s eulogy and received hugs, consolation, and polite smiles in the Church basement, that all of that was truly the worst of it. I thought that if I could survive father’s day and my dad’s birthday and Christmas that everything would be fine. It turns out that it is not. It turns out that maybe a year after my dad’s death, things are worse.
I think it is like when you break a bone, your body surges with adrenaline to keep you from feeling the hurt and giving you time to seek help. When someone dies, a sort of fog sets in and you lose yourself in it for a bit. Sometimes getting lost is fun, you begin to imagine how wonderful the world is when the fog has lifted and sometimes you just feel pained and lost and insignificant. I think the fog is beginning to lift, but truly and honestly, the world isn’t any better. The problem now is that I’ve run out of adrenaline and I am learning that I am still in a great deal of pain. There are times when I miss my dad more than anything, and there are times of anger, times of relief, and times of thankfulness and joy. I thought that once a year had passed I would be whole again. I believed that so ardently that I began to push myself around the one-year mark to settle my grief and move on. I put my head down and raced against the one-year anniversary to close my affairs and await release and freedom.
The anniversary came and went, and to my joy, the fog lifted. But, what remained was still a lot of heart ache and confusion, those roots are deep and I fear they will require a few more hours of work before they are liberated from the soil. This is a shock and a heartache, to know that my journey through grief is not over. But I think that I have finally figured out that the only way out of this valley is through it, one step at a time. So forgive me, if I take longer than I need. This road forward is full of twists and turns. I am trying a new thing, a thing where I give myself space and grace enough to grieve and feel whatever I need to feel it get me through this.
Almost 10 years ago, a teacher, mentor, and guide of mine lost his battle with cancer. The words that he left behind inspire me to soldier on and to embrace the path that I am walking. His words are these:
Grief, like the ocean, comes in waves, only to recede and come yet again. But with it comes healing. Memories wash ashore and are bathed in the golden sun. Grab hold of these memories and let them fill the emptiness. May they bring you peace. -C.Vint