A tribute to My Dad – Grief, one year past
The 16th January is forever marked as a significant date in my world. It is only a number and a month yet this date has seeped deep inside and left profound feeling and meaning attached to it.
I now live my life because of this day with one less deeply loved person by my physical side. I have felt raw and scarred living with my grief and I struggle off and on to integrate it into my new life. I live with an altered view of the world, and the life I desire for myself feeling more vulnerable, seeing less innocence in the world and feeling more adult like.
Today, one year ago the most favourite person in my world, my Dad, passed away after a long illness leaving me standing amidst this haze of grief.
I am a qualified Counsellor and Life coach who had been through other recent heartbreaks leaving grief in its wake yet this life event threw me into a more intense version of grief.
I have had to step back from the world for a while, bask in my introvertness, feel each feeling and shed many tears whilst slowly learning how to reorganise my world and to exist without my Dad.
My Dad, he was my Dad, he walked beside me from my first breathe to my last I love you and he is no longer here!
I still struggle with that sentence and have repeated it often over the last year to come to grips, to really acknowledge my new reality. The surrealness sometimes astounds me, I know, I feel yet to accept it becomes difficult.
A topsy turvy world
The topsy turviness of the year full of peaks of epiphanies and troughs of grief speared me into a chaotic emotional whirlwind. It has had me balancing on top of emotional precipices hoping and praying I would not fall and be swallowed up in the grief that lay at my feet. If I fell I feared I may never get up again.
I had to keep putting one foot in front of the other, whilst honouring and acknowledging my grief and my very hurt soul. At times it threw me back to feeling like a little girl, yearning to sit on Dads lap and allow him to take away the pain through comfort and love.
Alias, he is no longer here to do so and I was and still am so sad and miss him every day.
I see him in my mind and I smile, I visualise him doing his dance or singing to his favourite singer and I find a poignant laugh, I feel him and his mannerisms and the love he oozed and I tear up. Yet, I thank, appreciate and am grateful for him, all the good times and everything he has done for me.
I still feel the grief however, but it’s now assimilated as part of me, it is seeped into my every day and I have learnt to live with it and in doing so some of the joy and smiles have returned to my life.
A brief look back on the grief
The first 3 – 6 months the grief that invaded my body was there to stay, it had moved in, cemented itself deeply and covered my entire body, mind and soul with a grey cloudiness pulling me further into myself each day, and further from reality and day to day moments.
Each night before I would go to sleep, when I had switched off from my day the grief would literally rise from deep within my stomach and pour out, it represented itself in a strong physical mourning and pain.
Night after night I allowed myself to feel the pain and slowly after I had allowed the pain to surface I could appreciate some of the good and fun things about Dad, still immersed in tears but I could at least face it without the literal gut wrenching pain of sadness.
Each family dinner for the first few months I struggled to remain at a table where he no longer sat. I found myself having to excuse myself and return red faced hoping the second time I could get through the meal.
I visited the cemetery regularly which allowed me time out from a chaotic world where I could sit and think about him, ponder and reflect on his and my life.
As the year has progressed the intense feelings I have experienced daily abated slightly, it still appears, but, a little less intense and a little less often.
Scary thoughts turned into epiphanies
The grief had me fearing that I would forget him or the feeling of him being around. The more I moved from the date of his death into my future the more this feeling intensified for a long period of time before it then started to slowly diminish.
I know now I will never forget him, how he made me feel, his favourite things, his energy, his laugh, he is and has always been a part of me, that doesn’t change now that he is no longer physically present, it just changes form.
The other terrifying thought was that if it let go of the grief and the sadness I would in essence be letting go and deserting him. I came to realise that I could process through the grief yet still keep him close, it did however take some time to return to what I consider a semi normal life.
I came to accept and believe in signs being sent. I am not sure what really happens when someone passes over but there have been some really unexplainable events and weird circumstances to think otherwise except that he is around still in some capacity. It’s like I called and a sign appeared. I just have to keep my eyes and spirit open.
The thought of never seeing him again was so horrifying, but I now believe, I have to believe that I will see him again one day and until that day our relationship is altered but still full of acceptance and love. This thought gives me hope and the desire to move forward, living my life with enthusiasm and love.
The life cycle and the love
My photo albums and my grief had me pondering a lot over him as a young child so full of life, hopes and dreams and then seeing him age and then pass. It sent me into a spin in trying to come to terms with the human life cycle and the purpose and meaning of it all.
I thought a lot about the love between a daughter and her father and that created a vulnerability in me and in how I viewed him. A beautiful sadness!
I spent time feeling the love, it’s innocence, purity and fragileness. Ibegan to reassess how this now fits into my life.
I contemplated and still contemplate how to cope with the loss of such a profound love.
The biggest learning in the first year
The biggest learning I have learned in the first year is to let grief do what it needs to do, walk into the abyss of the unknown, let it settle into you and so long as you allow yourself to honour your feelings and be true to them it will take you on the journey it needs to, to take you to the place you need to go. Be mindful this place may be a little different than before. You will change, this experience will alter who you are.
Enjoy the moments and have a passion and deep desire to live a rich and full life in honour of the one you have lost. That is what they would want especially if they actually were part of you being here in the first place.
Tips to help you cope in the first year
- Allow yourself the time to process the grief, remove the time limits
- Cry bucket load of tears, let your body release the sadness. Know that tears represent all the love you have for your lost one. It is not weakness it is just LOVE
- Yell obscenities at the world get the negative energy out (Without hurting anyone, including yourself)
- Feel the fears and know they will pass
- Create your own memorial or other traditions that honour them
- Don’t get busy being busy walk into the grief
- Write, sing, meditate, paint allow your soul a creative release
- Give yourself time each day to honour the loved one’s life
- Pay tribute to special anniversaries
- Toast them at every family dinner
- Notice how you are changing as a result of your loss
- Remove any unnecessary stress and be in the moments
- Find people you can talk to and share your feelings
- Look for signs
Thank you to Dad for allowing me to be who I am. You gave me a life full of life, adventure, lessons and love. I will respect, honour and love you as I live my life out.
From the experience of your passing, it has fully awakened me internally giving me the opportunity to want to discover more about myself and who I want to become for my future. Rather than choosing to wither and live forever in the loss and the sadness, your legacy to me is to live fully the life you gave me.
I promise to live my life to the fullest and make it richer and fuller than before!
So, the day after the 1 year anniversary of his death. I have survived the onslaught of the first year of grief. I am still standing. I am more awakened yet a little more ruffled up than before. I still house my grief, yet, I am able to accept it and slowly step through the process.
I honour my Dad as much as before and I vow to live my life to its fullest and truly experience it and all of its richness. So, firstly, tomorrow I embark on my first solo holiday ready to discover the world and more of myself on my own, and reminisce of the wonderful times Dad and I had together and I will do it all in a beckoning beachside town.
I love you to the moon and back DAD!
If you are also residing and trying to make sense of your grief I wish you your very own safe journey to a richer life.
Big Pink love Lara and the two gorgeous fur children xx
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