Tuesday, April 5, 2016

The Realities Of Grief

I had plans for the posts for this week. They involved comic books and superheroes, hope and heroics, but I think plans have changed. Turns out, I’m having some trouble just getting three words to line up correctly. My head’s not in the right place to talk about hope right now. Don’t get me wrong. I know that hope is on the other side of this coin - I haven’t forgotten - and we’ll get back to that subject soon enough, just not today. Not this week. Maybe not this month. I just don’t know.

On April 3, 2013, my dad was admitted into the hospital with chest pain and difficulty breathing. He fought for twenty three more days, but he never came out, and we lost him on April 26. I wasn’t there. I live in Phoenix. He was in Texas. We gambled on his getting better, and I would use my time off to go help him through his recovery. We lost that bet, and there hasn’t been a day in three years that I haven’t regretted that decision. To be honest, there haven’t been many when I didn’t cry over that decision. I didn’t get to tell my dad goodbye, and I honestly don’t know whether or not I’ll ever be able to make peace with that. I haven’t yet. I know that. It tears me apart every time that memory crosses my mind, and believe me, it crosses my mind often.

Trying to find a way to be at peace with this memory, with this pain, was one of the reasons I started this blog. Last summer, I was having a bad time of things and I needed to do something about it. This wasn’t the only cause, but it was at the top of the list. I decided to go back to the beginning, to re-examine the tools and I had used and the lessons I had learned through a lifetime fight with depression, and this time I would open up and let others see what was going on. I’ve never been good at that part, but I hope that others can learn from my struggle, and that helping others will also help me. It works that way. Sometimes the best defense against depression is helping someone else find a smile.

Grief is a terrible, debilitating experience. It is one that we all have to face sooner or later. For some, far too often. There is no answer. There is no magic solution. Understanding this is the first step toward peace. If you’re looking for an ending, you’ll never find it, and you’ll never be at peace. I know that much. Grief doesn’t end.

Time does not heal all wounds. That is one of the great lies we tell each other - that time heals - and it can be one of the most damaging lies. The greatest wounds never heal. You don’t get over the loss of a loved one. The wound doesn’t heal. The pain doesn’t go away. It changes, and it changes you, but it stays with you. I understand that the trick is to take an active hand in how it changes you. You have to be the sculptor and the marble at the same time. It’s hard - it’s so hard - and it hurts - you can’t make a sculpture without chipping away at the marble - but on the other side is something beautiful. It’s something that shares fully in your love, and it still hurts, but it becomes a sweet hurt, a hurt you can live with, a hurt that reminds you of joy.

I guess I’ve learned to believe in hope pretty strongly after all.

I miss you so much, Dad, and I’m so sorry I wasn’t there. I’m sorry for so many things in our lives, and so many times I wasn’t there, but mostly I’m sorry for that one. I don’t know how to get through this. I know I will - you taught me to believe that - but I don’t know how. You don’t have to worry though. I have these moments, but I’ve learned that life is more than just these moments. This is a part of who I am, but it is not who I am. Hope is a pretty big part of who I am as well, it seems, and that hope won’t let me forget all of the good on the other side of the pain.

For the rest of you reading this, I hope you will bear with me this week, quite possibly more than this week. This is a hard time for me, but facing this hard time is why I started this process. There is no rhyme or reason to grief. There is also no shame. You will hurt, and that’s okay. You will not be fine all the time, and that’s okay. I’m not going to lie, I’m not fine right now, but I will be. Hope. It’s the only way I know to be. I sat in the woods one day with a knife and a nightmare, and I came out the other side, still breathing. I’ve been coming out the other side since then.

I’ve never been good at sharing my grief. I tell people often that it should be shared, but … Do as I say not as I do? I think we’re all probably guilty of that at times. We’re pretty good at knowing what to do and not doing it anyway too. I’ll try to be better. I’m trying to be better right here, opening up. I hope it helps. I hope it helps you too.

I love you, Dad.

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