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A Grief Story

Today is the first anniversary of my father’s death. It is an anniversary without celebration. Instead I’m remembering with so many emotions my head and heart are spinning. I’m sad and nostalgic. I feel a sense of urgency like there is something missing and I must do something to resolve the feeling. Alas, I know there is nothing I can do. I really don’t like that feeling of urgency combined with helplessness.

Significant loss is the invitation to grief. I’ve had other losses in my life where grief moved in and took up residence - the loss of my health and career for instance. Once invited in, grief moves in to stay. It is a presence that hovers around you and in you. It always exists. You learn to live with it, in time, but it never goes away. Not really. Grief hovers in the background and something unexpected will trigger a memory of your loss and stir emotions.

I’ve learned with my Dad to start to cherish these moments. Yes, the emotions are hard. I don’t like them. But the memories are treasures. Sometimes, they are memories long stored away that I can treasure again through my tears.

I remember telling my niece when we were gathered around my Dad as he was passing to “Feel all the feels.” I keep telling myself that now. “Feel all the feels.” There are so many emotions wrapped up in grief. Some of them I experience and can’t even name. Here is the list I came up with:

  • Sadness

  • Anger

  • Frustration

  • Nostalgia

  • Hopeless

  • Emptiness

  • Confusion

  • Helpless

  • Stuck

  • Directionless

  • Without Purpose

  • Disbelief

  • Sense of urgency

  • Lost

  • Desperation

When coping with the loss of my Dad nostalgia has brought me comfort. I spend time actively reminiscing. I stay in touch with family, look at pictures and videos. I listen to recordings of his voice. I’ve also created a remembrance ritual to help me feel connected. He was a pastor and I have his Bible on my nightstand with his name engraved on the cover. I run my hand over his name every night and tell him goodnight.

When I was coping with the loss of my lifestyle, it was a loss of my identity. In this instance, nostalgia was the enemy. It only brought back memories of the life I led and the realization I could never regain that future. Nostalgia became a highly destructive exercise that kept me trapped and depressed instead of moving forward into a new life lived in a new way.

Grief has affected more than my emotions; it has affected me physically as well. I have had headaches, insomnia, tightness in my shoulders and neck. Many times I didn’t immediately make the connection that it was grief causing the issue. For example, I could not sleep the entire week leading up to today’s anniversary. I was sleeping only every other day. It wasn’t until today that I made the connection.

Grief has also affected my spiritual life. The loss of my career and lifestyle from the disability caused from my illness imploded my life and led to a downfall I detailed in a book entitled Well A Memoir. I had many questions for which a lifetime of faith did not seem to have the answers. It took years for me to wrestle with these questions and come out the other side.

I know everyone grieves differently. This has been my story so far. I miss my Dad terribly. He was a truly amazing man and my absolute hero. He was my cape-less superman. I adore him and love him with a depth of words only tears can spell.

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