Reflections on Loss
The other day, one of my brothers and I were talking about how it's just unreal that in July we will hit the two-year mark without our dad. It strangely feels like it hasn't been that long, yet much longer at the same time. In our conversation, we were discussing how one of the most difficult parts of grief - aside from the constant profound sense of loss - is that everyone around us seemingly gets to move on with their lives, while this is still our reality day-in and day-out...life just seems to stand still for us some days. I personally have found myself so envious at times of other people living & enjoying their lives without having to face this mountain of grief and loss. I find myself feeling at times like the 'lightness' of life is gone, replaced with a heavy weight that seems to cloud over every good experience. I so wish my dad could be here to witness the accomplishments, challenges, and growth; to give me an encouraging hug or a huge smile when he's just too proud for words. I wish I could go back to life before all of this, where the challenges of life then seem so trivial now, and the seemingly small joys then seem an ocean away now.
Well-meaning and truly caring people have said things like "he's in a better place now" and "he's still with you", and I definitely believe and agree with those statements. But somehow it doesn't really make me feel better or take away the sting of his death. And please don't come at me with "it was his time" or "God called him home". False. It was not his time; he was only 63. He had so much life left to live and more grandbabies to love and fast drives to take in his car and satisfying work to do and I could go on and on. And I do not believe for one second that God "called him home". I just don’t believe God would take him away from us so young. "With long life will I satisfy him..." is a verse in Psalms that comes to mind. I don’t believe that everything happens for a reason either…I think that God can make good come from evil, but I don’t believe God caused my dad to die. The reality is that there is evil in this world and that is why he is no longer with us. And of course I hope and believe I will see him again, just as I hope that life will be joyful again. Admittedly, though, it’s hard to imagine a joy-filled life where my dad isn't with us. That’s not to say I don’t have moments of joy at all…just that they are few and far between these days.
I'm learning through this journey that loss changes you. It causes you to look at yourself and the world around you like you never have before. It brings about introspection and self-analysis and so many questions about even the existence of mankind. And while I feel like I still have so much more to learn, one of the major things I have realized about myself is that I’ve always (maybe even subconsciously?) kept myself at arm’s length of those who were dealing with the loss of a loved one. Not because I didn’t care, because of course I did, but because it was just too difficult to put myself in their shoes and try to feel what they were going through. And now, on this side of loss and in the process of grief, my heart just breaks for everyone who has experienced this. I would never wish it on anyone, and I also think we can all probably be a little more empathetic to others experiencing loss...even if it's uncomfortable.
A while back, I wrote a blog post on grief and how I didn’t want to get ‘stuck’ there. And while I don’t feel like I’m stuck, I do think that going through it, it’s so much more complex than I ever imagined. For me, the loss of my dad has affected virtually every part of my life, and the farther out we get from his passing, the stronger and more real the loss feels. In all honesty, I hesitate to write too much about grief, because I don’t want to make people feel bad or uncomfortable reading about someone else’s pain. But then I think, it’s ok to talk about this because loss is a real part of a lot of people’s lives and maybe sometimes they can’t put words to what they’re feeling…so I’ll do it for them. This journey, to me, is a lot like this picture. Lots of dark spots, but also some light-peeking-through moments where you remember the good times you had and the love and laughter you shared. And you hope, in time, there is more light than darkness.