The thing about grief is that it gets better. It gets easier, it lessens, it lets off the gas. And at the very same time it doesn’t.
Remember the resume bullet point? (If not, go back to Part II) I had qualifications on being a professional handler of grief. I was until my dad died. Since then I have been knocked over, ribs shaking, snot-dripping crying like when I was a little girl. I have not had tears that have overcome me since I was a child, maybe a teen.
This newly experienced depth of emotion as an adult has shocked me. It has made me feel out of control, and like a small and vulnerable little girl. It has also reminded me that no matter how you prepare yourself, brace yourself for the worst thing to happen, it does not protect you from the pain. Nothing can.
The thing is, I am still a vulnerable little girl. She is there to remind me that life is hard, it hurts and sometimes I really want my dad.
Back to things getting better. It does get better, or something. Days keep passing. The sun keeps rising. And life goes on. I have learned that something that seemed impossible one evening has full potential the next morning.
After enough nights of sleep and sunrises that marked the passing of time, all of a sudden it was spring. Finally, after six months I was ready to go visit the place where he died.
I had craved being in the place that he died since the day after his death. The woman who called 911, who found him face down, who heard his last words, “I’m just walking.” She gave us a great gift. She found our family and told us her story.
I wanted to walk his last steps, to see where he took his last breaths. And it was more beautiful and perfect than I could have imagined. Seeing this beauty of the place he finished his steps on earth has gifted me more peace, trust and acceptance. In his last steps he walked up a small hill towards an oak tree. In the Spring, I followed the path he took in his last footsteps. The feeling of being beneath the oak tree was a sigh of relief. The oak tree had been there for his death and for perhaps hundreds of years prior. Suddenly his death felt like it was part of something far beyond his time in a human body. It was part of a greater ebb and flow of life.
I have a general trust in the order of the world. There is something about life lessons teaching us what we need to know, when we need to know them. I have realized that even when we are good and we learn the life lesson, it doesn't prevent the pain, the grief, the sorrow that comes with loss. There is nothing that takes away the humanness of the experience. That is probably my greatest lesson to share.
For now, I hope to enjoy the rest of Summer, the season of joy. To let my heart crack open with it’s aches, pains and tenderness. To let it all wash over me as an intensive lesson on duality, death, life, love and moving on.