This past week has thrown a massive monkey wrench into my grief journey. I am once again putting cold spoons under my eyes to reduce the swelling and feeling sick to my stomach. My grief diet hit me full force taking 5 pounds with her. Unfortunately despite the fact that I'm mourning my Dad, life marches on. And as life marches on we must ride the highs and the lows of life despite how much those lows hurt.
I am beginning to realize that despite all my writing and thinking I'm ok, I'm not. Sure, I'm a grown up. I have my health, a fabulous career, an amazing significant other and a loving family. I know I'm blessed, but I really miss my Dad. It was my Dad I went to for everything. He was my trusted advisor on life. And now that my first real life issue has fallen into my lap, I feel like I'm standing on the edge of an abyss, the same abyss I was looking into the night he died.
My father was my hero, my rock, my best friend and life without him is extremely difficult and challenging. How do you learn how to walk again when the ground beneath you is crumbling? How do you speak when unshed tears claw at your throat? The seven month anniversary of his death is a few days away and I can still feel my heart shattering into a million pieces.
A few days before my Dad passed we had one of our last heart to heart conversations. It was at that moment I cried to him asking, "WHO will I go to when life takes a chaotic turn?” He patted me on the head, smiled and said, "Me." I will never forget that response, he was so sure of himself, like he knew something I didn't. Despite all his pain and suffering I saw peace in his eyes. It was at that moment, I knew my Dad knew something I didn't, and it was beautiful. In the middle of muffled sobs I paused, studied his face, and whispered,”Seriously Dad, WHO am I going to go to because I really need you." With tears in both of our eyes, my Dad smiled and replied, "I will always be with you, and you will always be my baby. Have faith in God and I promise I will always be with you."
So here I am, six very long months have passed and I'm fatherless. I miss him more and more each day. Life is marching on, and the glue that held our family together is gone. Many times the waves of grief are so engulfing I have no choice but to ride them.
I'm not sure what it is with death, but people are totally clueless. People not qualified to offer advice on broiling water are attempting to fill my father's shoes, giving unsolicitated opinions on private family matters and it's horrifying. And while I understand they truly believe their intentions are good, what they are incapable of realizing is that they are outsiders looking in. I'm certain many of you are reading this thinking, "OMG me too, thank goodness I'm not the only one with crazy relatives!"
So, what's the solution?
How do you survive your own grief journey when you’re encountering meddlers with bad intentions who are gossiping during one of the most difficult times of your life? In the movies families rally together, hold hands and sing by the fire. But this is real life not the movies, so now what? Unfortunately I don't have a magic pill, gosh I wish I did.
As I sat on my patio struggling to make the right the decision, the decision my father would have made, I decided to ask for his guidance. My Dad had a gift with people, he always seemed to know what to do, he had a dymanic larger than life personality. So, I looked up and said, "Dad, give me the strength to survive this journey."
Moments later I found perhaps one of the fluffiest feathers yet, instantly feeling surrounded by love. I knew then nothing else matters. The gossip, the meddling it's truly for the small minded, and isn othing more than a distraction as I grieve.
As you walk your grief journey focus on learning how to live again without your person of monumental significance. Take some time out. Grief makes us all do crazy things we may regret. It is important to cut anyone who is toxic during this time. People do all sorts of appalling stuff when they grieve, so try to look at these things as poor choices due to a hopeless time in life. Their heinous choices are a reflection of them, not you.
Our relationship with loved ones does not end with death. If you find someone is stealing your grief, its okay to take a break from them and shout, “Don’t steal my grief, thief!”