It’s been nine months since my dad died. Judging by societal expectations, something we shouldn’t do of course, things should be back to normal. I should be back to normal. But I am not. I am still limping along through grief.
Grief has no timetable. And yet, there is often that subtle suggestion that perhaps it’s time to be done, it’s time to move on.
Just like with cancer.
If it appears to the world as if you’ve put grief behind you, it’s often assumed you’re doing a better job of handling things.
Just like with cancer.
The early days of grief are hard.
During those early days of raw grief, people ask how you’re doing. They send cards. They bring meals. They make phone calls or send you emails and text messages.
If you’re lucky after a month or two, your dear one continues to get mentioned. Some people keep asking how you’re doing. But by nine months, people have moved on. For the most part, they’ve stopped asking. They haven’t stopped caring, mind you, but most have stopped asking.
And this is as it should be.
I am not fishing for sympathy, comments or anything at all. I am just writing about this because maybe someone else will say, oh yeah. That’s how it is/was for me too. After all, most of us are limping along through something, are we not?
The first months of grief are hard.
After my mother died, dear hubby told me the first year would be the hardest. (He was an experienced griever; his dad had died fifteen years prior). There are all those firsts to get through. Once you’ve made it through the first year, you realize 365 days have passed without your loved one in it, and you’ve survived. So his words made sense.
The first 365 days of grief are hard.
But grief doesn’t end when that one year milestone has been reached and passed. Grief is for a lifetime because love is for a lifetime.
Life is just different now.
It’s an odd thing trying to figure out life without your parents in it anymore. I fully realize many people didn’t have their parents for the amount of time I had mine. I know I’m lucky in many ways. At the same time, having a long relationship with your parent(s) on into your own adulthood makes it hard to adjust when they’re gone. Having said this, losing your parents earlier in your life must be equally challenging, for different reasons.
I’ve discovered my dad’s death has had an even greater impact on me in some ways than my mother’s did. I hope that doesn’t sound callous or weird. My mother died after tremendous suffering from metastatic breast cancer. Even though we were all, of course, devastated, there was a certain amount of relief when her suffering ended.
The greater impact I feel after my dad’s death probably has more to do with the realization I no longer have living parents at all.
When your remaining parent dies, too, something else dies. Maybe it’s the real end of your childhood, the end of some sort of buoyancy that can no longer be yours. Mostly, it’s the end of a special kind of love you’ve received and will never receive again, that unconditional love only your parents can offer. And of course, the death of both your parents is a not-so-subtle reminder about the brevity of not only their lives, but your own life, too.
My dad’s death hit me hard.
Nine months later, I still cry at the smallest nudge. Like when I’m scrolling through photos or my contact list on my phone and see his face. Or when I watch a Twins baseball game and wistfully recall his love of the game and for his team. Or when I see the first blooms of spring. Or when I check the daily weather forecast. (He was a bit weather obsessed). When I see a bag of Circus Peanuts or jelly beans. The list of grief triggers is endless because the ordinariness of any given day without him in it, is the trigger.
So many things still jolt me back into intense grief.
In time, I know the memories will bring smiles more often than tears. But that time is not here. Not yet.
I have so much more to say about grief. And over time, I will say these things. Even if it makes some uncomfortable. Even if some turn away.
Just as with cancer, I will never be done with grief. I move forward, but I do not move on.
Grief will always be hard.
For the time being, I am still limping along through grief. Perhaps you are, too. Or perhaps you’re limping along through something else.
And that’s okay.
Limping along is moving forward, too.
Just like with cancer.
Perhaps we can limp along together.
Do you feel like you are limping along through grief, cancer or something else?
What is one grief trigger for you?
Who do you grieve for?