Grief - Full Circle, 365+ Days & Counting

Grief – Full Circle, 365+ Days & Counting

My dad died on July 23rd last year. So now, according to the calendar anyway, I’ve come full circle. I’ve made it through an entire year, 365+ days have passed. Now what? Should I feel better? Should I have moved on? If not, why not? After all, the death of a parent is in the natural order of things, isn’t it?

After one year, after 365+ days, most people expect you to have put all that messy grief stuff behind you. Grief makes most people uncomfortable. Why this is I’ve yet to figure out. Ater all, is there anything more universal than grief?

I’ve read, and perhaps you have, too, that the second year of grief is harder than the first because during that first year everything is kind of muffled because you’re in grief shock, for lack of a better phrase. Perhaps this is some sort of self-protection mode we use to shield ourselves from the reality of life with our loved ones no longer in it, in the physical sense anyway.

Still, after a certain amount of time passes, things are expected to be better. You’re expected to be better.

John Pavlovitz, an excellent, insightful blogger I follow, wrote the following piece, Attrition and Amputation:  Losing and Limping In the Grief Valley, about grieving for his father who died unexpectedly in 2014:

One of the things that’s become clear in recent weeks is the simple reality that my life will not get better.

That’s not to say that I won’t feel better or that the sadness won’t eventually recede somewhat or that there won’t be really, really good moments…

When I say that I know that life won’t get better though, it’s admitting the sobering truth that despite all of these incredible, gratitude-inducing, live-giving things that will surely come, my life will simply never be as good as it was when my father was in this world.

It will never be better than it was before he left.

It couldn’t be.

No matter who or what I add to my journey or what victories or successes they bring, they will never replace the part that’s gone—the part uniquely shaped like him.

When I read his words, I felt relieved. I felt a weight lifted. Literally. So much so, I had to share them with you, my dear readers.

My life is, and will continue to be, mostly pretty great (I hope anyway), but it will not be better. How could it be when both my parents, two people who first most deeply loved me, are no longer in this world? And there are other dear ones no longer here as well.

Pavlovitz goes on to say:

When you do lose someone close to you, you learn to make peace with attrition; with the cruel, horrible subtraction that death delivers. You realize that there was a time (now in the past) when your family was whole and that no matter what the future brings, it will always remain less-than.

I love that. I find it comforting. To me, it’s not sad or depressing at all. It’s quite the opposite.

We do adapt. We do heal. We do make peace. But the loss remains. Fortunately, so does the love.

Perhaps this is what is meant when people talk about that final stage of grief – acceptance. For me, it’s an acceptance that grief is not something to feel bad about, get over, fix or stop talking about.

Grief is an evolving, shifting and in many ways a beautiful thing.

It makes no difference if your loss was last month, last year, five years ago or many more.

I am still grieving. Some days I still feel quite lost.

I am still limping along. Perhaps you are, too.

And this is just fine, as far as I’m concerned anyway.

Although grief’s intensity ebbs and flows, its presence, its force remains a constant in your life. As does love.

365+ days later and counting, grief is not something to be done with or fixed. Everything doesn’t have to get better. That’s not the way life works.

After 365+ days and counting, my grief continues, yours likely does too.

Grief will always be a reminder of loss, but it will also always be a reminder of love.

May you find comfort in this, too.

Who do you grieve for? 

If applicable and regarding your grief, have you felt that expectation for things, including you, to “get better” and if so, how did/does this make you feel?

Do you relate to and find comfort in the words I quoted in this post, too?

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Grief - 365+ days and counting

 

 

16 thoughts on “Grief – Full Circle, 365+ Days & Counting

  1. Loved this! Thank you Nancy. I think the conversation about grief is so important but we also need to get better at talking about death in our society. Thank you for writing this!

    1. Leslie, I agree, as a society, we need to do a better job talking about death. And grief. Such universal topics and yet we tend to steer clear of them. Even here on the blog, I hesitate sometimes to write about them for various reasons. Thank you for your kind words. And you’re welcome.

  2. Hi Nancy,

    Grief is a normal part of the human experience. Our society is so uncomfortable with death and grieving that it just thinks we should get a grip on things and get over it. I think that kind of mentality can make things far worse than simply embracing the grief and feeling it.

    Excellent post!

    1. Beth, I can’t figure out why grief makes many so uncomfortable. It’s such a universal experience. I agree that grief avoidance only makes things worse. Or can anyway. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Thank you! Perfect words found. I am 13 years without both my parents (passed 9 weeks apart at age 60). I am still missing a big part of Me everyday.

    1. LA, I am very sorry. Your grief and pain must feel terribly overwhelming. I hope you have some supportive, caring people around you. I appreciate you taking time to sharing about your grief. Thank you. And take care of yourself.

  4. Oh those words resonate with me so much Nancy – my life will never be the same after losing my Mom – there is an ache and a feeling of homesickness which will never go away. I am sure I’ve shared this quote from Anne Lamott before with you, but I am sure you won’t mind if I share it again – it echoes so much of what you have written here.

    “You will lose someone you can’t live without, and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved. But this is also the good news. They live forever in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up. And you come through. It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly—that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp.”

    1. Marie, I know your heart still aches for your dear mom and always will. How could it not? Thank you for sharing the quote. Every word is true. xx

  5. This phrase hit home: “cruel, horrible subtraction that death delivers” My mom died 25 years ago and there are days when it feels so raw all over again. I sometimes list in my head all that she has missed: my daughter, my cancer, my moves. I just want to have coffee with her, you know? A friend told me (after a year), that I was grieving too long and too much. That just piled on more weight. I think I was going through a normal and intense experience that many have experienced too. Grief is always there. Absence is always empty. Thanks for writing about this.

    1. Kerri, I am sorry. You continue to miss your mom and with every life milestone she should’ve been here for, you grieve again. And as you said, it’s not just the big things either. Little things like having a cup of coffee with her. One time I wrote about how I would spend a day with my mom if we got one more day together. I found that exercise to be healing and helpful, not depressing as one might expect. Doing that might help. Or not. We’re all different, of course. You’re so right, grief is always there, but remember, so is the love. Thank you for reading and sharing. Again, I’m very sorry for your loss.

  6. Nancy, this post was beautiful and comforting. Grief is beautiful to me as well. It is also painful. Grief is the way the love we feel for our loved ones manifest itself. I grieve for my grandmother and always will. And yes some people have expected me to “get over it”, until it happens to them. I follow John Pavlovitz and appreciate his posts. I love the quotes you included of him and I agree. Thinking of you, my friend. xoxo

    1. Rebecca, I know you understand, and I know how deeply you still grieve for your dear grandmother. Grief is another form of love indeed. Thank you for sharing. xo

  7. Hello, i,m read your articles 8 ways to cope with the death of a parent first. By the way i live The Netherlands, did you expect a 51 year old woman sonfar away would read this?
    Allthough my 83 old mom is still alive i feel grief because she,s in a nursinghome with dementia and other physical things. I feel that i wont, take long before i have to say goodbye for always. We have such a good relation, and went through such hard times together. She took such good care for me when i wass very ill in the last, and i helped her going through the loss of my father, her husband the past 8 years. Even my own brother and sister don,t understand my sadness. Therefore i feel stupid, i should be able to deal with this on my age.
    I have anxiety issues and i,m very sensitive, no husband and kids, so i think it,s also therefore i feel so much emotions.
    Somebody left a comment on your post and said something like feelings of homesickness, and i totally get this. If you had really nice and loving parents, it,s extremely hard to let them go, even if it,s a natural thing , death is a part of life.
    I also lost my beloved Daschhund a year ago, and even it,s ” just” a dog, he feel a kind of the same amount of grief, he was my everything. Some people can understand this.
    Well, after reading your article i am planning to be a little more gentle with my feelings and allow myself to feel what i feel.
    And when mom goes, i will try to be thankful for her being the fantastic mother that se was, and happy for her that she,s going home to be with her oved ones who earlier went to heaven.
    Sorry for any faults in my english.
    Lucienne

    1. Lucienne, Thank you for sharing these personal things. I understand about your sadness, anxiety and anticipatory grief. You’re not being stupid at all; it’s hard to deal with these things, no matter what our age. I also understand how hard it is to say goodbye to a beloved pet. I have several posts about that, in case you’re interested. I hope you are a bit more gentle with yourself. Easier said than done, I know. Try to enjoy the time you spend with your dear mom. Sometimes I am surprised when someone reads from so far away, but these things of the heart are universal. Take care of yourself.

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