I believe each of us grieves in his or her own way.
My father passed away this past September. It was a totally unexpected and fast death. He did not linger and, I believe, did not even know he was dying. The night before he suffered the stroke that led to his death, we had the pleasure of going to hear our friend Nikki Giovanni speak. (So, she had the pleasure of seeing him again before he passed.) The ‘we’ I speak of included my father, my 14 year old son and me. Three generations.
It has been roughly four months since he died. I often reflect on how I have (or have not) grieved. I have not grieved in the “traditional” ways one thinks of grieving. I do not cry a lot – in fact I think I had one good cry about his passing and that was after having several drinks to get myself to that emotional state that would allow me to cry like that. I do not have regrets of things I did not do or say regarding my father. We lived together (I moved here mostly to help him out), so I don’t regret not spending more time with him. I told him I loved him, in words and deeds, every day, so I don’t have to regret not telling him I loved him. My son grew up spending time with him – so I don’t have to regret that my father didn’t get to know his grandson.
I grieve for my father in my writing – I write poems to him and for him. I write about him in essays – even if they are not ‘about’ him. I talk to my father all the time – like I used to talk to God all the time – running one-sided conversations. I have changed some of the things I do in my life – some of the directions I am taking, in memory of my father and how fast he left us. I find joy every day in the events of my life – glad that I am here to experience them, be they good things or not. In these ways, I grieve my father.
I have stopped berating myself for not ‘grieving’ in the usual ways. My father was a remarkable, very human, imperfect man who had (and continues to have) a profound impact on my life. I will probably ‘grieve’ him for the rest of my life.
I believe we all grieve in our own ways – and isn’t that a wonderful thing?
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