Without Dad: Year One of Grief

Last Sunday, March 23rd marked the one year anniversary of my father’s death. It was one damn difficult day to say the least. I don’t think I adequately prepared myself for just how challenging that day would be, or the days following. This whole week has been filled with melancholic self-loathing. Year one of grief has been an emotional rollercoaster ride, and one that I thought would end with me in “Acceptance” mode. But, instead, it’s concluded with the states of Anger, Sadness and, still, Shock.

I’ve spent the past year dealing with this grief as healthily as possible. That is, moving on as best I could. Unbeknownst to me until only recently, I realize that I lived much of it in a state of shock, with tiny reality bites every so often. I think with each holiday, birthday and big event, the wounds deepened and became more real. Looking back, I think I’ve slowly weened myself into the pain. I’ve tugged at the band-aid instead of ripping it off. On the anniversary of my dad’s death, ripping it off was the only option.

As with many things in life, there is positive and there is negative. To say there is any type of silver-lining in my dad’s death would sound heartless and horrible. There is no silver-lining, but rather valuable lessons, insight and more awareness of the fragility of life. And that’s a positive of this hell hole, because it’s a reason to keep going forward.

I have much to look forward to in my life, and overall, I’m a happy, balanced person. But, sometimes, it’s really hard to not be able to simply pick up the telephone and call my dad. Or drop by the house to see him. Or catch him up on everything that’s been happening in my life. Or get his opinion on something.

It’s also really difficult to not have that relationship anymore. When you lose someone like that, a part of yourself dies, too. It’s a loss of identity. That’s one of the many aspects of grief no one ever tells you about. At least, I’d never heard it before.

This traumatic loss has catapulted me toward action, action in moving forward toward my dreams. As cheesy as it sounds, I have awakened to what really matters in life, and the small stuff has become more insignificant. Thus, I’ve grown a lot this year, and in a way that I believe my dad would be very proud of. There have been many milestones for me and not being able to celebrate those milestones with my dad might just be what’s been most difficult for me. That, and the void of a great person.

So, that’s where I’ve been for the past few days – living in the darkness, and feeling and processing the pain. But, I’m finally starting to feel a little more present in my here and now. And, more in the light. I have a little family vacation coming up with Dave and the pups, some really awesome shoots, and my garden that’s been keeping me busy. All in all, life is good and I’m so grateful to be here to enjoy it – just as my dad would.

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