Recently, I lost my father. He passed away after a very long illness and decline. His death was not unexpected and he welcomed the thought of moving on. I thought since I write about grief I would move through my grief in a “lighter” manner than others. To some extent this is true. I know my father was ready to die. We had many discussions of his death and plans for his estate. He made my brothers, sisters, and I all aware of his wishes. All of this did help.
What surprised me the most is how losing my father brought up more grief about my mother’s death two years ago. I have spent time grieving the loss of both parents since dad died. I grieve by thinking about all of the ways I let my parents down over the course of their lives. As any adult child, I know when I hurt my parents. I know when I made choices they did not approve of. I feel remorseful about not meeting their expectations. I did not expect this self-reflection about my overall life to be a part of my grieving process. Did my parents ever say they were disappointed in me and my life? No. Did they criticize how I live? No. All of these feelings just seem to emerge from within me from when I was a little child or a teenager. They emerge as unhealed areas in my own heart.
The second thing I have learned about emotions is that I can feel extremely sad, relieved, excited, and expectant all at the same time. My father left me an inheritance that is changing my life. I was able to help my daughter purchase a newer, safer used car. I will be able to upgrade my vehicle as well. These rather mundane things are HUGE in my world. To be able to easily make these larger purchases is a life changing event for me emotionally. Yet, during the excitement and release of stress, I realize how much I miss my dad and long to have him here with us again. I would choose his presence in my life over all the finances any day.
Grieving and mourning are really part of the mysteries of human life. Other animals may feel intense grief after the loss of a mate or child, however, humans alone grieve and mourn with emotions from joy to sadness, excitement to disheartenment, anticipation to preoccupation. I have found acceptance of the full range of emotions is truly liberating. Acknowledging the “positive” and the “negative” emotions has allowed me to move through my grief and live fully present in the day.