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?