I used to think that I was ‘over’ my Dad dying. I used to think that I forgot him, that he was no longer a part of my heart or existence. I used to think his death had very little impact on me.
July 10, 2015 marked 25 years since he passed on our summer vacation. The Universe took him; and it was sudden. One day he was fine, the next he had suffered a brain aneurism, and 3 days later he was no longer alive.
I remember the event like it was yesterday. I remember him tucking me into bed for the last time. I remember the confusion. I remember the loss, the tears; the anger. I remember seeing his body at the funeral home. I remember the limo to the grave. I remember my little white dress. I remember not having a damn clue what the hell was going on.
I remember shutting down.
I remember deciding to see the glass “half-full”, and I remember no longer facing what I internally felt. I used to believe in the motto of 'think something positive', rather than my current motto of: 'BE AUTHENTIC'.
For a long time I thought that grieving had a timeline; I thought that after 25 years I perhaps shouldn’t miss him anymore. I thought that “time heals all wounds”, I thought that I no longer had a right to feel how I felt.
Today, 25 years later, I am finally starting to come to terms with the impact this event had on my life. I am starting to come to terms with the fact that I will miss him every single day, and that not one day in life will go by without me thinking about him.
Nothing can replace him. That void will never go away.
I did not forget him – I was coping as a young child – and for me that looked like hardening, getting distant, mean, cold, and not giving a fuck about anyone. It meant being deeply pissed at God for taking a man that I so deeply loved away from me. It meant throwing my belief system of a God in the trash, and spending some very dark years of soul searching. It meant hating my Dad from earth for leaving me. It meant feeling abandoned and unable to ever open up again.
I never could imagine that I would trust again.
Over my past few years in the Soul Swamp, I re-visited this loss. I build the courage to pray again. I found some hidden tiny gem of internal bravery to have me visit his grave and tell him I am fucking mad at him for leaving me. I had to face the authentic ways of my heart that I never did as a child. At the age of 30, I had to start to face what I didn’t at 6 – I call this “opening Pandora’s box”. For a year, it was a wild journey of anger and hatred towards what happened. It was a journey into the heart of that 6-year-old self to see what this loss did to her, and in turn how it shows up in my adult life.
Can the human who is left on earth ever truly understand this? I think the spirit can, but I don’t know that the human brain can. I am amazed daily at the depth of longing I have to see him, and the lack of understanding that my brain has for taking him.
Its times like graduating from Nutrition school, or turning 30, or meeting Shane, or getting married that I wish he were here… I wish he could be here in real life to see me walk down the isle. But he isn’t. He wont be. All I can do is find my own subtle ways to honor the ancestral spirit of those that passed – like writing, like reading my vows to Shane at the grave, like talking to other loved ones who share in the pain of loss, like yelling/crying/laughing at his grave; like praying.
One time I even sat in front of his grave and while drinking an elixer and talking out loud to him, I made a magic want with clear quartz and tree branches. Grief looks different and specific to each of us.
In most cultures in the world we honor death. Death is a very real part of life.
Death is divine.
That which has died has been here before.
It has witnessed.
It has loved.
It has a rooting system that drives deep into the earth, the subconscious of the planet and the future of the stars.
Death is the inevitable.
Through my discoveries in Pandora’s Box, I learned the impact that death has had on me – I learned that I hardened and closed off. I have worked hard (and continue to) on softening my edges, jumping into life and love and having the courage to feel again, to risk loss again, to have my heart placed open on my sleeve.
I think the most important thing that I have learned about death and grieving is that there is no ‘right way’; each journey is unique - each story is different. I have learned that what we believe should be the ‘picket fence ending’, often is not – but that life has something different is store, life has specific and very customized plans for each of us; and usually they look very different that what the “should be’s” in our head say.
I have learned that grieving demands our attention – if not now, then it knocks on the doors of our hearts later; but it demands that we look at it. Grief can last a life time, it calls us to authenticity, and you know what?… whatever way you grieve, that’s ok. You can yell. You can cry, or do art, or cook or write. You can laugh. You can pray or get angry. You can call for specific love. You can long for only that one persons heart. You can dream.
Feel authentically into where you are at right now, and know that it is ok. What you feel right now, is very much perfect for your journey. Not necessary ‘pretty’, but certainly perfect.
Time does not heal all wounds.
I will miss him daily, but I choose to live authentically in the possibility of love. I have also decided that I am going to make an Ancestor Shrine – one with skulls, and prayers, and offerings, and crystals. It wont be ‘pretty’, it wont be a western view on death – it will be dark and real – and it will resonate with my understanding of the divine dark. No one has to understand it, but me.
I will continue to feel what I feel, and live with the self-promise of authenticity and vulnerability. And, I will promise to continue to share my story and my heart, for I believe it is when we grasp hands and hold hearts that we heal.
I love you. Thank You for reading my words.