Grief is a strange thing. Its definition states that it is:
“A deep and poignant distress caused by or as if by bereavement; or, an unfortunate outcome”
I don’t know about you but distress is not even close to describing what I’ve felt since my father passed away. It’s not a powerful enough word. Today , 04 September 2017, marks 3 years since he left us and I still feel a physical pain in my chest every time I remember. It’s weird, but I go day to day and remember randomly that he’s gone, and then that’s it – my days over. I can’t deal with anything else. It’s not that I’m not thinking about him at the other times, I most definitely am, but I almost forget that he’s dead most of the time when I think of him. And then when I remember, the waves of grief begin to flatten me again. They’re consistent and they’re heavy and my god I’m sick of them. But at the same time – I don’t want them to go away. Because if they go away – it’s going to mean I’ve finally accepted his death, which is something I don’t think should ever happen.
One thing that really surprised me with the grief was how teary I became. I don’t know if it’s all in my head or if anyone else has noticed, but I’ve genuinely felt on the verge of tears for 3 years now. Prior to his passing, I was not an easy crier. I’d been to funerals of quite important people to my life, and I remember thinking to myself at those times “It’s not normal that I’m not crying right now”. I only have 2 really distinct memories of actually crying back then, first was when I saw my grandmothers body in the nursing home before they took her away and the second was when Claire died on McLeod’s Daughters (polar opposites, I know). I just really wasn’t a crier and emotions made me so awkward and embarrassed. But ever since the moment my brother told me what had happened to Dad, it’s like the smallest things set me off and I don’t even care who sees it. Have spent many a night crying in the corner of a pub since then. My poor, wonderful friends; they’ve been amazing at those times.
This is going to sound so dumb, but Nickelback videos in particular have been making me cry. ‘I’d Come For You’, ‘Lullaby’ & ‘Never Gonna Be Alone’ are the absolute worst. I’m not even an overly large Nickelback fan, but if those music videos come on the TV – I’m a blubbering mess. Doesn’t matter if it’s on channel V at home when I’m cleaning, or if it’s one of the TV’s at work that play music, or if it even just pops up as a recommended video on YouTube. I cannot help but to cry when I see them. I can sort of understand why, those music videos are all something of a sob story that centre around a dad. But it’s just a music video for Christs Sake! Another one is the Helga’s bread ad on TV. The one where the old man drops his shopping in the street, and his neighbour helps him, before going home to make him a sandwich and secretly leaving it on his door stop. He then returns the plate secretly to her door stop with a rose from his garden on the plate. It gets me every time. This amount of crying, the old me would have been embarrassed, but I’ve somewhat accepted it now.
So getting back to the grief definition, it’s usually accompanied by a list of the seven stages of grieving, such as:
1. Shock & Denial
2. Pain & Guilt
3. Anger & Bargaining
4. Depression & Reflection
5. The Upward Turn
6. Reconstruction & Working Through
7. Acceptance & Hope
There are aspects of this list that I agree with, and some that I hate. I feel like 7 was written by someone who’s never lost anyone but I’ll get to that in a minute. I also don’t feel like it goes in the order of that list either. God knows I go through 1, 2, 3 & 4 regularly. Shock, pain and anger are my most vivid memories of the first 6 months, but to some extent I still experience them now, 3 years on. The depression was the hardest because you don’t even realise that it’s happening. It takes hitting the ‘reflection’ aspect to really even notice the depression. And then once you notice it, the anger and the guilt take over again, in my case because I started thinking that my depression took focus off of my father and onto my self which I didn’t want. I always wanted (and still do) want attention to be on him because I’m terrified he’ll be forgotten. To a certain extent, I almost feel like ‘The Upward Turn’ is a load of shit. Yes things get easier, but there’s always that pain there that taints what you do so is it really upward?
If I was in charge of this list, I’d remove ‘The Upward Turn’ and go straight to ‘Reconstruction’ because that is the most accurate part to me on this list. You need to reconstruct your life without that person. You have to reconstruct your routines so that you can go about your everyday way of life with this new grief you’re feeling, because grief never goes away. And acceptance is a load of shit. I will never accept that he’s dead, because as far as I’m concerned – a 57 year old man is too young to be taken. I never want to accept that, because if you accept it – I feel like it normalises it, and that is not normal. It’s horrific and ugly and torturous and not normal.
I don’t want anyone to look at this and go “ummm she’s clearly mental”. I wanted to write this because I want people to see that its ok to not be ok, particularly if something tragic happens like losing a parent. I’m finally at one of the better stages in my life, but I still feel all of the sad emotions every single day which is something I am just used to now. The grief is a part of me and I’ll never be ok that my dad is gone, but that’s ok. I miss him every day and I would give up anything and/or everything to see him again, but I know that won’t happen, at least not in this life. There are times when I genuinely think I’m crazy because of how I act now, but it just is what is. It’s how I deal with what’s happened, it’s how I make my life work. And this doesn’t have to make sense to anyone else, it only has to make sense to me. That was the hardest thing I had to learn with dealing with grief, and I still have to teach myself that fact every now and then.
It’s ok not to be ok. I hope people realise that.
RIP Dad, you were good and strong and amazing, and I love you to the moon and back.