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Two Years – Shouldn’t Grief Be Easier Now?

October belongs to my dad. Screw Pink. Now July does too. Partly anyway. Two years ago my dad died. July is now a month of sadness. A death month. Does that sound too morbid? I don’t mean it to. July is also filled with loads of good memories of all sorts. But now some of my most-cherished July memories are about my dad’s last days. Some are painful (I cannot yet write about some of them), but wonderful nonetheless. Treasures for my heart are what they are.

There are plenty of things to love about July.

Son #one got married that same July two years ago. A few family members have birthdays in July. There are warm summer days. And nights. There’s my summer reading list to get to. There are vacations to take and gatherings to attend. There’s grilling and ice cream. Okay, more ice cream. I mean, you almost have to eat ice cream in July, do you not? There are July blooms and July fireworks and many other good things and good times to enjoy.

I don’t dislike July. But it’s forever changed now.

Such is the way with life. And death.

After two years, I’ve been wondering, should grief be easier now?

After all, those first hours, days, weeks and months of grief can be pretty darn intense. Such intensity cannot be maintained. As we all know, grief ebbs and flows. It’s loud. It’s quiet. It’s public. It’s private. It goes under. It resurfaces. It evolves. It surprises us. It changes us.

Again, after two years, should grief be easier now?

Maybe. Maybe not. For some. Not for others.

How many times have you heard it said that after loss, the first year is the hardest?

You know, there’s that coming full circle thing.

But is the first year hardest?

Year two I learned, in some ways, was harder.

Why?

During year one, you get to think back to last Christmas, last summer, last fall, last Father’s Day, last Thanksgiving or whatever last “ordinary” memory that comes to mind. All year long, you get to picture your dear one in whatever last you are reflecting upon. There’s a certain amount of comfort in that.

During year two, you realize a whole year has gone by without your loved one in it, so in a way, year two is harder. Or it has been for me. Last year no longer “contains” my dad.

With the passing of time comes more separation. Literally. Sometimes that’s harder.

Grief never ends. Nor should it.

How could it?

But when do memories bring smiles more often than sadness and tears?

When does remembering not bring that ache to your heart?

There are no answers or timetables.

Grief isn’t something to get over or something to be fixed. Or even something that gets easier. In fact, sometimes it gets harder.

Grief is what it is.

The following words Jamie Anderson wrote about grief in, As the Lights Wink Out, feel perfect:

Grief, I’ve learned, is really love. It’s all the love you want to give but cannot give. The more you loved someone, the more you grieve. All of that unspent love gathers up in the corners of your eyes and in that part of your chest that gets empty and hollow feeling. The happiness of love turns to sadness when unspent. Grief is just love with no place to go.

 

"Grief is just love with no place to go."

 

Grief is just love with no place to go.

Indeed it is.

Love.

Without love, there’s no grief.

If there’s comfort to be found in grief; it’s love.

Yes, it’s love.

Miss you, Dad. Love you forever.

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Who do you grieve for?

What is something you miss about her/him?

Has your grief evolved and if so, how?

 

After Two Years, Shouldn't Grief Be Easier?
I miss simple things like sitting in my backyard with my dad. This one was taken after my mother’s death right before my diagnosis.

 

Shouldn't Grief Be Easier Now?
June 2016. Love this photo; it’s one of the last taken of my dad.

 

Two Years, Shouldn't Grief Be Easier Now?

 

 

 

20 thoughts to “Two Years – Shouldn’t Grief Be Easier Now?”

  1. Well, I guess I’ll always miss my mom. She died of breast cancer in 1980. She was 60…I was 23. I was diagnosed of BC in 2016. I was 60..my youngest daughter was 23. The 1st yr after my mom died was the worst. We were young but my husband and I cared for her throughout her illness. It was during that time that she taught me how to roast a turkey, a leg of lamb, and a ham. I still think of her every time I make her wonderful stuffing . (Hers was better) I really miss her vegetable soup…I never got the recipe! Mostly I miss the way she made me laugh…she had a great sense of humor! She taught my husband how to make cream puffs at10:00 one night when I was pregnant and was having a craving! I guess the grief never really ends.

    1. Donna, Thank you for sharing some memories about your mom. My mom made wonderful stuffing, too, and even though I follow the same recipe, mine is never as good as hers was either. Thank you for reminding me about that stuffing memory. And I love your 10:00 at night cream puff making story. You’re right, the grief never really ends. Love doesn’t either.

  2. I’ve lost both my parents and, for me, year two has also been the hardest as well, Nancy, and for the very reasons you mentioned. The fact that so many people expect that with the first year out of the way you’ll be done with your grief adds to the struggle.

    At some point grief moderates and loses some of its intensity but it can always return – maybe with a somewhat different face. At some point we learn to live with it simply because we can’t bear the pain of staying where we are, mired in loss. Coming to terms with it (bit by bit) also honors the persons we loved and allows us to carry a bit of them, and their characters and values to live on in us.

    It’s tough.

    1. Julia, I am sorry you understand this sort of grief so well. When you’re an adult beyond a certain age, I find that many people expect you to get over grieving for your parents pretty quickly. It’s the natural order and all that. I’m glad grief in general is being talked about more openly, but it seems to me, we still have a long way to go. I see grieving as an ongoing, forever process. We learn to integrate it into who we are. Lots of adapting and adjusting. You’re right, it’s tough, but it does help knowing others understand. Thank you for sharing.

  3. My parents died nine weeks apart in Summer, 2010. Mom’s was unexpected; dad had been dying incrementally for years. It still hurt. Eight years later I find my sisters and myself starting to thaw out of the grief. A bit. Some of us say, “You know that table of mom’s? I really don’t want it as badly as I did when she died.” Others say, “What ever happened to___?” It’s a never ending process. I was looking at my granddaughter last night wondering what my mom would think of her. And I am sad again.

    1. Linda, The fact that both losses came so close together must’ve been very difficult. I’m sorry. I like the way you put that – you and your sisters are “starting to thaw out of the grief”. That’s so descriptive and getting to that point has taken you a while. That’s comforting. Grief ebbs and flows and sneaks up on us sometimes, that’s for sure. Your thawing out analogy for grief works well – we “freeze over” entirely, thaw out and ice over again. And that cycle repeats. Again. And again. It’s lovely, though sad, too, as you mentioned, to have those pangs of loss when you look at your granddaughter and think of your mom at the same time. The circle of life. Thank you for sharing.

  4. 2 years ago today my sister, just 3 years older, died from breast cancer. 2 years & 3 weeks ago my Mom died. 11 years & 1 day ago my older brother died of a heart attack. Not a fan of July. My btest cancer diagnosis came in Nov. 2016.

    Lots of emotions today. She loved music & I listened to some songs my sister liked. We had a very close yet tumultuous relationship. Total opposite personalities. She was outspoken, boisterous. I miss her so much. Her last weeks in hospice care were the most profound days in my life. She was a tough cookie her whole life, faced alot of adversity, yet was totally at peace with dying. Asked me why I was crying.

    Thanks for this topic. Right on time for me.

    1. Renee, I am very sorry that you’ve had so much loss to deal with. No wonder you’re not a fan of July. Thank you for sharing about your sister, mom and brother. I’m glad the post topic was meaningful for you. I appreciate you telling me that.

  5. I lost my husband of 57 years in August, 2017 of lung cancer. It has not been quite a year yet and I feel worse than when he died. There is hollow void as though I lost part of myself. I really thought I would be better as time went on but that didn’t happen. He and I spent so much time together to the exclusion of others for many years and life is empty now. At 77 years old there is no adjustment that I see to be made. So I fill my time with trivia and get thru each day with my faith in God until He takes me too.

    1. Linda, I am very sorry your husband died. It’s certainly understandable that you feel you lost part of yourself. How could you not feel that way? 57 years is a lot of time to have spent together, so of course, you don’t feel “better” yet. How could you? I do hope you have a supportive person or two to confide in. Have you considered a support group specifically for those who’ve lost spouses? I always suggest journaling as a good coping tool. There are Facebook grief support groups, if you use FB. Take care of yourself. Thank you for sharing.

  6. The very week my mother went into a nursing home following a harrowing month in the hospital in which she escaped near death, my father was diagnosed with inoperable Stage 4 Gastric Carcinoma. His prognosis was poor, so he only lived another 2 months. In that time, he became progressively weaker and ended up going into the same nursing home as my mom. At first, they were in different rooms and he would walk over to visit with her, usually falling asleep on her bed while she sat in her wheelchair.

    Within a week, he could no longer walk there and used a wheelchair to spend the day with her. Meanwhile, the staff was hard at work trying to put them in the same room. The mission was finally accomplished and he died 2 weeks later in the bed next to her. Although he passed during the night, by then mom was disoriented. She couldn’t fully grasp that he had died and would often ask later on when dad was coming to visit.
    Despite all her memory loss, she still remembered her home telephone number and called it one day. She told me a woman answered that she didn’t recognize, so she proceeded to call her out, wanting to know what she was doing in her house. As sad as this is, and as difficult it was to deal with these simultaneous tragedies, this last episode brought a little levity into the situation.

    She died 6 years after my dad and I miss them very much and think of them often. At the age of 73, I still feel a need for the unconditional love and acceptance that only parents can give us.

    1. I lost my dad in 2013 my husband of33 years in October of2017 in a head on collision and my mom in June of 2018 to pancreatic cancer I am having a very hard time with my husband’s death a lot of emotions and replaying the day of the accident any advice on how to get past this,I haven’t even grieved for my mom still consumed with husband’s death, is it going to get easier,

      1. Sandy, That is a lot of loss you have endured. I am very sorry. It’s natural to be consumed with grieving for your husband. Sudden, tragic loss rips your heart to shreds. I will not tell you it is going to get easier. I do think you experience joy, happiness and many good times again. I highly recommend you read the book, “It’s Okay that You’re Not Okay” by Megan Devine. It’s quite good. There is no getting over grief. It ebbs and flows yes, but end it does not. Again, I’m sorry for all your heartache. I hope you’re finding supportive people and groups to help you deal with your pain. Thank you for sharing here.

  7. Nancy dear, I woke up this morning, turned on my laptop and the first thing I saw was your tweet about this piece. Meant to be. Yes, July is bittersweet. Two of our young Lovelies died four days apart in July 2012. We will never forget the incomparable May Smith and Linda Ritzco. Three years ago today my daughter’s sweet love passed away unexpectedly at the age of 28. It was devastating in ways that cannot be expressed in words. Sudden loss in someone so young is unbearable. Today it all comes bubbling to the surface and I am reminded that where there is deep grief there was great love. That love is triumphant and everlasting. Thank you my friend for having a safe space where I can share my heart. Sending you love across the miles as you remember your beloved dad.

    1. Nicki, Thank you so much for your lovely, heartfelt words. I remember that day three years ago so well. And the Lovelies that you mentioned, too, of course. So much loss. But so much love too. And love wins out. Always. Thank you for sharing and for being part of this space. Your love is received, my friend.

  8. Grief is just love with no place to go. Such a moving way to look at the pain of grief. I really get this. Even after 7 years after my mother’s death, my heart still aches with love and longing. Sending all my love to you and each one of your readers who feels the pain of loss and grief today x

    1. Marie, Sending love to you as well. Thank you for taking time to comment, Marie. I know you continue to miss your dear mother every single day. x

  9. Hi Nancy,

    Grief is, indeed, tied with love. As we enter August, my grief is increasing — I’m approaching the year anniversary of my aunt’s death. Last year, after she died, I cried myself to sleep, and I slept often. I find I’m starting to sleep a lot again. I’m exceedingly depressed. Yes, I loved her to the ends of the Earth, and now she’s gone. She was a parent to me, teaching me all about life. Now she’s gone. And I find myself wondering how I’ve been coping all this time after she died. It is so hard to live without her.

    1. Beth, It is hard and yet, you will continue because that’s what she would want and that’s how you will honor her. You’ll have to keep sharing memories and stories about her with Ari and others who loved her. I am thinking about you, my friend. Please take care of yourself and know that you are not alone.

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