Posts Tagged ‘#learningtolivewithgrief’

On March 14, 2020 I had a ticket to fly from the west coast to the east, but then … Covid.

I wrote, a week before scheduled to fly across the country, “from the west coast to the east, from one home to another, my mind begins to prepare for the sights, smells and sounds that will, in all probability, trigger the emotions of grief when I arrive.”

It was to be my first time back, in my province of origin, in the home of my childhood, with the people whom I shared the beginning of life … after the death of my dad in the fall of 2019.

Firsts, after the death of a loved one, can be triggers of grief that still lingers in the heart and mind. They can awaken a loneliness for that individual, as well as for who you were with them … for not only are they gone, but so is the part of you that was loved, adored uniquely by them.

So when I recently boarded the plane headed in the direction of my life’s beginnings, as I returned to my childhood home and family … I was so very aware that there would be one missing from that reunion.

There was a great part of me
that feared
that the weight of his absence
would be crushing …
but it wasn’t.

Though he is no longer there,

no lingering hugs that speak the words of the heart,

no squinty eye smiles from eyes so blue,

no fresh biscuits from the oven,

no information about houses for sale in their area (hints to move ‘back home’)

… he lives on.

I felt his life as my brother offered to drive me from the airport, the long way, so I could see the sights (and as he cringed when I shut the car door too hard).

I felt his life in the lingering embrace of my other brother, surprised to see me standing in his driveway (and in his use of ‘huh’ when he didn’t hear what was said the first time).

I saw his life in my nephews eyes, shining bright.

I heard his life in my niece, as she greeted me with warmth and unhindered excitement.

I felt his life in the stories my mum shared … so many stories that speak of a life … not perfect at all, but a life well lived.

He lives on …

It is a bit disturbing to admit that it wasn’t crushing to return …

but he wasn’t absent, he wasn’t missing.

The best of who he was still is …

it exists in pieces,

shared by each of us.

The seeds of his life have been planted in us and they keep growing,

for he lives on … on both coasts.

One day, while there, I was walking around the streets of the neighborhood of my parent’s home with their dog. A man, walking toward me, said, “is that Daisy?” I nodded and introduced myself. In very basic language, he went on to tell me that he and my dad spoke often. That he was a nice man. That he missed my dad. I told him I miss him too. We walked and talked a bit more … his simple expressions of remembrance of my dad filled my heart … he’s still here, in Bill too.

There was no grief in this visit for me. Only memories of a good life and evidence that the seeds he planted continue to grow.


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As the plane began pulling from the terminal gate I realized that I am beginning a new stage, a new way of life …

learning to live with the grief of great loss.

Just a month ago I sat with a number of women, all but two of us having experienced the loss of a parent … I sat and thought how I must not waste time, must not take this time for granted. The next day I mentioned to hubby that we must make trips back to our childhood homes and families more frequently, more intentional.

I have listened to enough people going through grief, that I have (so far) not held back about how I feel … laughing when I feel like laughing as well as giving my tears equal freedom to fall freely when they break through the dams.

That means I will probably be writing about grief freely, as well.

I have heard, while sitting with others, that grief does not fade, does not ever leave. You simply learn to live with it’s presence, it’s permanent mark.

Grief is now a part of me … now I need to learn how to wear it.

This new look is not visible when we look into the mirror, we cannot dress it up, we cannot remove it. It is more like a bruising, a trauma to our soul that goes everywhere we go, shadows our thoughts, surfacing out of nowhere, like a charley horse in our calf in the middle of the night, demanding our attention to it’s discomfort.

“The people we most love do become a physical part of us, ingrained in our synapses, in the pathways where memories are created.” – Meghan O’Rourke

One of my favorite movies is Meet Joe Black. The clip, below, (at 1:45) is about the letting go of physical life and all that is part of it. It is the final line, spoken by Anthony Hopkins character, William Parrish, that is a great reminder of the reality of death:

And that’s life… what can I tell you.

This sorrow, this grief that we carry after a great loss … it is part of life. To live life, while carrying the grief of death is one of the paradoxes of being human.

And that’s life… what can I tell you.

William Parrish : It’s hard to let go, isn’t it?
Joe Black : Yes it is, Bill.
William Parrish : And that’s life… what can I tell you.

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