Posts tagged ‘loss of parents’
I’m accustomed to feeling all sorts of colliding emotions with grief – anger, depression and even regret, but shame was a new one on me. I didn’t even know what to call it when I experienced it.
Do you ever feel shame within the context of your loss? My dictionary defines shame as “a painful emotion caused by a strong sense of guilt, embarrassment, unworthiness, or disgrace.”
There’s room for shame in society. We should be ashamed for things that are against morality. Grief isn’t something to be ashamed about, and yet there it was, sitting on top of my chest.
That afternoon, I had been at my parents’ unoccupied home with my husband. I’d been rambling about the house, trying to figure out what next to discard, give away or pack. I’m down to the wire on this one – after eight years, we’ve decided to sell the house. I gotta finish cleaning it out.
I dreamed I was a child again, playing with my toys. I feel like a child a lot when I grieve. I even cry out for my “mommy” and “daddy” like a girl who has tripped and bruised her knee.
But in my dream my parents were alive, and I was playing with the toys they’d given me. I woke up with a delightful sense of well-being. I felt loved. I felt taken care of.
I realized of all the things I sifted through at my parents’ home, the toys in my old bedroom always made me smile. I cried over a lot of their possessions, but the toys took me back to joy.
Joy is an important ingredient in grief. We cannot properly face the ocean of sorrow that death plunges us into without the life preserver of joy. But how do we find joy at a time like that?
I call July “death month.” Both my parents died in July, three years apart. I’ve been through lots of Julys since Dad’s death in 2006, and I’ve noticed three ways I’ve responded.
We cannot necessarily pick the way we will feel on the anniversary of our loved one’s passing, however, we can prepare ourselves and use the day to further our healing.
Here are the three Ds we may use to address death anniversaries.
Distract. I distracted myself with an intense romance after the death of my father, and on the first anniversary of Dad’s death, I was distracted by the impending breakup. My heart was torn up in so many ways, I hurt too much to know which hurt most.
We may busy ourselves with activities unrelated to our loss. A certain amount of distraction is necessary to weather the throes of grief. Go to the movie. Spend time with friends. But we should not allow life to press us so far that we don’t deal with our grief.
I survived the yard sale without any major kick from grief to my insides. I’m not sure whether to celebrate that fact or bemoan it. The absence of grief is in itself a grief.
I snapped a photo of my father’s fire engine red tool box at the feet of the buyer. I took other photos of the tables of dishes, including the plastic plates our family ate from year after year.
I didn’t feel the sharp ping that I’d felt during our 2012 yard sale, when things walked out of my driveway and out of my life – pieces of my parents I’d never regain.
In fact, it was around that time, three years after my mother’s death, that I experienced a grief over losing grief. I mourned the loss of the intensity of sorrow.
It still puzzles me why we do that.
I squealed and talked into the camera. A selfie video. I was going to take the calculated risk of being drowned in an endless ocean to do what my father had done. To follow his footsteps.
Are you afraid? I am sometimes. I was afraid after my father died. I was afraid of a life without him, an ever-present anchor. A friend. A fan. A guide. Grief generates fear. How would I manage?
Honestly, I was always a person of fear. As a child, I feared the dark. Now I fear the water. Not so much that I won’t go into a pool that’s over my head, but I don’t venture far from the edge. I’ve never been on a cruise. The Titanic comes to mind. Read more
Where do daddies keep their daughter’s handmade birthday cards? Or brochures of sports games they attended together at her college? May I suggest they keep them in their filing cabinets.
That’s where I found the ones my father kept. He stashed old utility receipts there, too, and appliance manuals and sermon notes and photo copies of funny cartoons.
I found my dad in the filing cabinet after he died. That’s the way I put it. I discovered and rediscovered small details of his life. Of him. Of us.
One thing I found in the filing cabinet after both my parents were gone was a draft of the note Dad wrote on my college scrapbook. With him dead, it took on new meaning.
“I love you so much – You may be out of my sight, but never out of my heart.”
You better believe I cried.