Monday, March 31, 2014

Grieving For One

Losing a loved one is one of the worst experiences of our lives. One of the most difficult things we will ever go through is saying goodbye to someone who has passed away. If we are lucky we are given forewarning of the impending death. Time to say goodbye. Often times we are not. We are taken by total surprise when a life is lost. An accident, a murder, when an elderly family member slips away in their sleep.

When a loved one is terminally ill, we are given the opportunity to say goodbye. Does that make it easier? In some ways I suppose it can - you can say all of the things that others are not able to when death is unexpected. But what happens after the passing?

Family and friends gather. Condolences are given. A service is held. Eulogies are written and read to those who have gathered to say farewell. The service typically takes on a tome of a celebration of life. Memories are shared, stories told, hymns sang.

Following a service, typically mourners will gather for a wake or reception. More stores and memories are shared. There is often a mix of emotions - as all emotions are raw and bubbling right at the surface. There are tears as well as laughter as we recall Uncle Bob's lucky socks. Or the way Aunt Betty would always burn the holiday gravy.

There is no timetable for grief. For most people it never really goes away. The pain fades over time - but the ache never really ever leaves us. The blessing is that we have people to share it with. Holidays and birthdays of the deceased are the most difficult. Even though you may miss your loved one every day - there are inevitably days which seems to amplify the pain. Like a big spotlight on your broken heart. This is a time where family and friends will again often gather - connect and share in their mutual loss. And at times just hold one another up. Memories are shared and through memories, we are comforted.

Having a network to connect with in these times is essential to our being able to move forward through the grieving process. But what happens when we don't have anyone to share in our grief?

Those who know me or have been following my blog for some time know that I lost my father 19 months ago, after only having found him 14 months prior.  Every day is hard. Every day hurts. Some days more than others. Yesterday was especially difficult as it was my dad's birthday. I had gone my entire life not having a father and was given the gift of being able to have him for one birthday. Those who have been following along know of the One's. One Christmas, One New Year, One Easter, One Father's Day and One Birthday.

I won't go into the whole family dynamics again. Those who have been friends of EE already know the story, and those who are new can look it up. But suffice it to say that I have had to endure the grieving process on my own. I have not had the luxury of having anyone to share memories with. Nobody to share stories with. Nobody to share their memories with me. Nobody to share my grief with. And it has been very lonely.

Yes, I have friends and maternal family who have stood by me. Who have been supportive, loving, and understanding as best as they possibly could be.  But they never knew my dad. So in essence it is like opening up my broken heart to complete strangers. Really no different than posting my grief through this venue. Perhaps the exact reason why I took to writing so extensively about the journey around my father to begin with.

Even though I have had to swallow my grief and try to digest it on my own with no outlet, I believe I have done as well as could possibly be expected under the circumstances. The problem is that no matter how hard I try to push the grief down, it always manages to resurface. And on days such as his birthday, with Father's Day right around the corner - the pain comes rushing to the surface all over again. And I am reminded again of the fact that there is really nobody in the world to share it with.

I know that I will be okay. Because I have to be. The pain will leak through my eyes as I put my head to sleep tonight, and by the morning I will be able to breathe once again. I will fall back into my routine and muster up the strength to continue with my days as best I can.

Until the next time.

I miss you Dad. Happy Birthday.