What Grief Has Taught Me
I lost my dad in November 2012, only 9 weeks after he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. I changed forever the day he died. Part of me was broken; I was shocked, devastated and lost. My faith, once so strong and evident, was suddenly shaken and damaged. For a little while I stopped believing in miracles and didn’t recognize many of the negative emotions slamming me in the heart. I had never been mad at God before. I ached for my mom because she had to live the rest of her life without her soul mate and best friend. Future events flashed in my mind and I saw the graduations, weddings, and birth of great-grandchildren that he was going to miss. He was robbed of his retirement years with mom, his children and grandchildren; we all felt cheated. At the same time, running alongside my pain, were feelings of guilt because I knew there were people who had it worse; mothers and fathers had lost their children, small children lost their parents, kids were going through cancer…there were so many people worse off than me and yet I desperately ached for my dad.
Grief has taught me many things. I know that the pain of grief is not something anyone can understand unless they have felt it. I know that people are extremely empathetic and understanding when you first lose someone but eventually they have a magic timeline etched in their minds that tells them when your grief is no longer acceptable to share with people around you. For those who believe grieving people are “dwelling” on things, I can assure you that there will never come a time, no matter how many years pass, that I will not miss my dad.
Grief will cause some relationships to deepen and strengthen, while other relationships weaken and drift apart. You will learn to cherish the relationships that matter and let go of the ones that lack meaning and substance.
Grief has taught me that in the midst of sadness there can be great moments of joy and laughter. Grief has taught me to continue making great memories and to shine through sadness the way my dad did. Grief has taught me to seek a life that is meaningful and to love people deeply because love is all that really matters. Grief showed me a deeper understanding of unconditional love. Grief has proven to me that our loved ones are with us every day; there are signs and messages waiting to be received if we are open to them.
There is no magic antidote for grief and no two people will grieve the same way in the same time. You have to allow yourself to feel what you feel. If you need to cry, then cry. If you need help – ask for it. If you need to talk to someone than please find someone who will listen without trying to offer you too much advice. The raw pain of your loss will heal a little each day, but grief leaves a scar that remains with you forever. You will never be the same person you were before your loved one died, but your grief, if you allow it to, will make you a more empathetic and caring person. Your loss and your experience can provide a life line to others in the future, and you will then honor your loved one by holding the hand of someone else who is suffering.