I have debated posting this article for so many reasons. I have written, edited, deleted and changed the trajectory altogether. Last Friday I had an amazing lunch with a co-worker who lost her husband 10 years ago. Our conversation somehow led to talking about grief and dealing with the loss of a loved one as time goes by. It was that conversation that made me decide to share this with you. 10 years ago on October 30th my Dad Died, I wrote this, this year:
“10 years ago today my dad died. My dad was awesome! MarySchmich wrote: “When your father dies, you wonder what he would be like if he’d lived longer, what he would think if he could see you now. You hope he would be proud.”
When I woke that morning, I was battling posting that but I wanted to remember my dad. I wasn’t looking for “sorry for your loss” or Wanting some sort of attention and I was afraid I would come off as someone refusing to heal from the loss or just making a big deal of grief, but I also really wanted to do something for my Dad. Hours after I had posted that I got this a message that read: “Does it still bother you? Does your Father’s death still bother you?” My initial response to this was “How could you” but instead I asked why she asked me that? Her response wasn’t what I expected but it was something that I related to. She said:
“My mom died 13 years ago and I don’t talk about it, I was 13 when she died but I still remember her, everything about her even her smile. I don’t talk about it because It doesn’t bother me, I am not sitting and crying or hurting and sharing it doesn’t mean I am looking for sympathy but I feel like if I do people will take it that way, Will take it like I am looking for sympathy so I don’t want to come off like that.”
This conversation opened my eyes to different things:
- Losing A parent is hard: Any loss is hard. when you lose your parents at a young age the older you get the more the loss silently hurts. It doesn’t hurt in the mourning kind of way but in a way that it feels unfair. So my dad was a single dad. My friend’s mom was a single mom it feels very unfair, understanding how hard adulting is it just feels quite unfair that our parents worked so hard to take care of us but never got a chance to be taken care of. Mary wrote “When your father dies, you start to know him better. “Oh,” you think, a long time later, “now I get it.”
We all wonder who they would have turned out to be if they lived longer, How we ourselves would have turned out to be? If we would have taken the same paths in life that we have taken. Mostly we wonder if they would have been proud especially during our milestones and biggest life changes.
- We feel bad remembering: When you lose someone you mourn, For the first year you are excused, People understand, but as the years get to 10 we feel bad sharing about our loss. I personally, feel so bad having to post about my dad when the day comes. Like my friend said, we are not looking for sympathy but we worry it comes off as not forgetting or healing but that’s not it maybe we are trying to ease the guilt we feel for forgetting them, this is the day our lives changed though it doesn’t hurt it is the only day we get to think of their lives. Mary Schimch wrote:
“When your father dies, you will grieve and then, one day you’ll notice your grief has dried up. You may spend weeks with no conscious thought of the man who was once at the center of your universe. You will be relieved and your relief may feel like a betrayal.”
I honestly don’t think we forget but the truth is we don’t mourn anymore and we are no longer bargaining we have moved on not from our parents but from the loss. My brother told me when our dad died, he lost a friend, he was weary of living a life without a parent, it felt like being left in the middle of nowhere without any clue of where to go. He doesn’t feel that way anymore he mostly wonders what kind of a relationship he would have had with my dad now that he is a father himself. He wonders what my dad’s life would be like if he lived longer.
Lastly, you will realize how others say your brothers and sisters — his brothers and friends saw your parents differently. I have always through the years enjoyed learning about my dad from others, it’s always eye-opening when I learn something about him that I didn’t know or just a side of him that I didn’t realize. It makes you feel like even though they are not here you keep knowing them better. It makes me understand the other person’s loss better. When I lost my dad I lost a parent but my uncle lost his big brother, his best friend lost a best friend and my brother lost a role model and friend. It makes me feel better knowing that my dad touched different lives in different ways. So, I do hope when it’s 20 years and I share about losing my dad you remember that it is not because I can not heal from the loss but it is because I do not want to forget him, my memory of him is the only thing I have to hold on to. I want to remember him not in a sad way but in a very happy, healthy way.
So to answer my friend’s question: No, My dad’s death doesn’t bother me, it doesn’t hurt either, it has been 10 years. I share to celebrate his life, I guess it is my way of telling him, I haven’t forgotten him though I don’t think of him every day. I guess grief is one of the things that time truly heals. Though there are times where no matter how many years have passed you just need a parent, So really there is no forgetting there. The picture I have of my dad is him laughing and I wonder how bigger that smile would have gotten, I sure hope he was as happy as he seemed.