As I listened to the ominous sounds over the phone, coming from the ICU room where my father lay dy-ing, I really believed that this was the hardest part.
I’d been preparing my mind and heart for this day for months. We had first found out that my father had esophageal ca-ncer just nine months ago. It had been a whirlwind of chemotherapy sessions, hospital admissions, doctor visits, and heartache ever since. We knew the inevitable was about to be on us. We knew that his ca-ncer was about to win and take him a-way, our loving father and grandfather. We knew he was dy-ing. We were preparing to lay his ca-ncer-ridden body to rest for the last time.
I wasn’t close when the nurse told me that he was gone over the phone.
I was almost 2,000 miles away when she called. But I breathed a small sigh of relief that my father wasn’t in pain anymore. He was finally at peace.
I told myself with confidence that the worst was finally over.
However, my journey into g-rief was just at the beginning. This time has been a lot of things- painful, heartbreaking, and even wonderful. The stages come and go.
What you may not realize is that my father pa-ssed away more than five years ago.
But not one day goes by that I don’t think about him, that I don’t gr-ieve for him, that he isn’t on my mind. I often catch myself thinking about something I want to share with him, like a professional success or my daughter getting a good grade, and I realize that I can’t.
No, I’m not over my g-rief. I can never be over my g-rief.
I’m very grateful for that.
Some people like to call g-rief a “process” or say that there are “stages.” But I disagree.
Those two words imply that there is an ending to g-rief, which is simply not true.
You don’t just say, “Yes! I’m done missing my dad today.”
It doesn’t work that way.
My g-rief is not going away any time soon. I would love it if people would stop telling me to get over it.
To be honest, I don’t mind the person I have become since my dad pa-ssed away. I have become a better person to friends that are dealing with their own losses. I have realized that dozens of funeral bouquets get tossed in the garbage after the service, so I bring wine to drink instead.
I will offer to run errands instead of bringing another meal. I have become so much more empathetic.
I’m also nicer to the strangers around me.
If a cashier is not as nice as I would hope, I consider that maybe they are just having a bad day. I think back on the time I had a panic attack while grocery shopping and ended up leaving all of the groceries behind. No one knows what someone is going through, so I have learned that it is always a good idea to just be kind.
I don’t gently ask my PTA friend how she is doing at the meeting after finding out she l-ost her mother. I tell her “de-ath sucks” instead. That’s exactly what I needed to hear when my father d-ied. His de-ath has caused me to become a bolder woman with less of a social filter to worry about.
You won’t ever hear me say that “He is better off” or that “God is welcoming him” to someone that is gr-ieving terribly.
Sometimes, being silent and just available to a person who is dealing with a de-ath is the best thing you can do.
Small, simple things, like running for groceries or offering to pick up a child from school, is the best way to help in times like these. G-rief has taught me that words don’t always help-actions do.
I’m in the “lost a parent” club now. We all go on, quietly taking care of our lives while dealing with the g-rief that doesn’t go away as quickly as people would like to think it does.
So please, I implore you.
Stop telling me to “get over it.” I won’t, and I don’t want to.
What did you think of this? Then, pass this on to family and friends who may need to read it.