I’ve been doing pretty good dealing with my grief after losing my dad. I think about him all the time, but it doesn’t make me cry nearly as much anymore. I can think about funny stories about him and laugh, I can remember him and smile. In fact, it’s been a few days since I’ve cried, which is a big improvement. I’ve been so worried about how my family is dealing with their grief that I didn’t really have to deal with mine for a while. And, I have to tell you, it was kind of nice.
But then after a few days have passed without the tears, I start to wonder if I’m doing this right. Am I grieving right? Am I sad enough? Am I strong enough? Am I moving forward enough? Am I remembering enough? I feel bad when I go too long without crying, but I feel even worse when I spend days in sadness. I just can’t seem to find the balance yet.
Yesterday, out of the blue, the sadness overwhelmed me. I hadn’t stopped to really LOOK at a picture of my dad in a week. It was just too hard. But last night, I was missing my dad so much that all I wanted to do was see him. So, I pulled a picture out and looked at it as long as it took to cry it all out. I let myself indulge in that for as long as it took. And it took a while.
What has been so hard lately is that the reality of my dad’s passing is hitting me. In those first few weeks, there are things to take care of and arrangements to make. In the weeks shortly after that, our family was really rallying around each other and letting us all dwell in the loss. But in the past week, life has gone on as normal for the most part. I’m working, taking Gracie to swimming lessons, taking Bean to soccer, going grocery shopping, grading papers, reading, cooking dinner, packing lunches… Every day things are back in my every day world. But what has always felt normal to me now feels very empty and bland. Every day feels like I’ve left home without my wallet or my sunglasses. Like something is missing.
Because he is.
Last night as I held on tightly to my little boat while the waves rolled around me, I kept thinking to myself, “So, this is it. This is just how it’s going to be from now on.”
I know the sadness will fade. I know that the storms will weaken. But the loss of my dad is permanent. Final. For me, that has been very hard to accept, but impossible to deny. Maybe what I’m experiencing is the shock of his passing wearing off, and the reality of his death hitting me like cold water in my face. Whatever it is, it hurts. And it dulls everything around me. Nothing is as funny, as interesting, as exciting as before. I can’t help but wonder if that’s just how things will be now, too? Will things ever feel as vibrant as they did when my dad was alive? I hope so. I think he would be really disappointed in me if I kept walking down this path of sadness. My dad was full of joy, and he would want that to live on in me.
I wish someone could just tell me when this would be over. I wish there was a deadline or an expiration date on grief. “You will be done grieving exactly 90 days from the date of death.” This feeling of taking two steps forward and one step back every couple of days is exhausting and makes me feel like I’m doing this all wrong.