Lately I have been thinking about Grief/Loss and why it is something that we, as humans, go through. Is it what separates us from the animals? Do they grieve? Are they capable of feeling that loss? In all honesty I cannot answer that question. My feeling is that yes, they do grieve, but ultimately that isn’t what I am here to discuss.
In the next couple of months, several of my friends and myself are coming upon the anniversaries of the death of loved ones, my housemate and myself have both lost a parent, mother and father respectively, a good friend and colleague lost her best friend and colleague, another friend is having to attend the funeral of a friend recently lost to her… all of these people being mourned were lost at ridiculously young ages and all due to random circumstances. I won’t talk about my friends losses as it is not my place to do so, it is their grief to do with as they see fit, and everybody deals with these things in their own way and should be allowed to do so.
I will talk about my own loss however.
My Dad’s name was Mark; he was an incredibly kind and hard working man who would shave especially when I went to visit because I didn’t like his scratchy beard and who would read aloud to me at night, because he knew that that was something I liked. If anything could be said of him it would be this; He loved his children.
My father died in January 2002, of complications from meningitis. He was only just 40, far too young, but then usually who isn’t? Nearly 8 years on and I don’t believe I have moved on a great deal further in my grief than I did when I was told.
Now, okay this isn’t entirely true, I have become a little more distanced from it and it certainly is not as raw or immediate as it once was, but for all intents and purposes I have not particularly moved on. I think this is the case partly because I didn’t live with him, hadn’t done for years in fact, so I am/was used to him not being in the immediate surroundings, but I always knew he was there, there was access within easy reach. Him not being around in an everyday capacity means that on some level I still see my situation as being like that. He hasn’t died, well, he has, but it feels like he hasn’t because in essence the situation hasn’t changed at all.
Every so often, and I admit it happens less as time goes by (for which I am ashamedly grateful as it is easier to deal with when it doesn’t), I have an urge, a need, a desire, to see him that is so strong it’s hard to reconcile the fact that it is no longer a possibility. I go through the town where he used to live (actually I can no longer go through the town at all, I find it very difficult if my mother chooses to drive that one way, when there are so many other options available) and it hits me, violently that he is no longer there… he isn’t anywhere else in my mind specifically it’s just the knowledge that he is no longer there.
It is not just the loss of him I mourn, equally the guilt of my own actions prior to his death do sometimes still keep me awake at night. In my heart of hearts I know he did not take it in the way that my teenage, impetuous and angry self said it. I know this but it doesn’t stop me from feeling guilty about it. I know that armed with the same knowledge as I was then, I would make the same choice. It is only because he is no longer around that I have not been able to rectify my foolish indiscretions.
This is just one of those things I have to live with.
The truly sad thing about my father’s death is that now, I think about him more than I think I ever did when he was alive.
Does grief make us stronger in some way? Does it make us relish that which we have remaining? Appreciate the people we have around us more?
Whilst death is the end for the person who dies, I have always felt (unless it was particularly horrific) that it is always worse for those left behind, after all when you’re gone, you’re…gone. My brother will not talk about him at all, point blank refuses, will leave the room if Dad’s name is brought up in conversation. He is dealing with his grief in his own way… I suspect by ignoring it, but that is merely my suspicion and it doesn’t make his method any less valid, truthfully I don’t think I am dealing with mine any better, even after eight years.
Do you ever reconcile the feelings that come with the death of someone?