Grief (or really what the fuck is this shit)

Today marks the day of the death of my father. He passed three years ago. I have been nudged from within to write more about my emotional experiences in general, perhaps there is something there in my manner of processing that others can relate to but that not many speak of. So for that reason, and the fact that I currently do feel a need for the nurturing process of writing my thoughts and feelings down, I have decided to write a post on grief and grieving.

I can see that all processes of grieving are unique based on one’s connection to the person that one has lost, as well as when and how they died, and one’s circumstances in life when the death occurs. There simply are multifaceted factors that play roles in how we are capable of moving through our own emotional landscape…and this in turn is obviously reflected in how we go about expressing ourselves within and without whilst in the process of grieving.

My dad died as a result of complications from a fairly common (albeit serious) surgical heart procedure. He certainly lived fully and wholeheartedly, he loved many and was loved by many, but in the end it was the physiology of his heart that gave way. My dad, although he had a tricky childhood and experienced some heartache (like many of us), had lived a very full life by the time he passed, just a month before his eightieth birthday. As a result of this, and the fact that he was still living an active social life, navigating boats and swinging golf clubs right until the end, my siblings and I felt very much at peace with the fact that he never had the chance of becoming a geriatric, if that even ever was part of his agenda. If there is a way to exit life more peacefully than others, surely it would have to be living life fully and wholly with a functioning mind and body, right until the end.

For me, my experience of my dad dying got a little challenging for various reason. Some of them were to do with the facts that we lived on opposite continents, I hadn’t seen him for over a year and he passed whilst I was half way home on a flight to Stockholm from Australia. Having said that, he and my sense of intuition had somewhat prepared me, and I can say this in retrospect as at the time when the information surfaced within me, I clearly chose to push it aside. About a month or so before my dad died, as I was hanging out washing in the backyard, I heard internally ‘Your father is leaving soon’. To which I annoyingly replied (probably out loud without realising) as I flicked a wet pillow case with more force than needed ‘…bull’. Whenever I did my personal readings, the ‘deceased angel’ card kept on falling out of the deck, again I knew deep down what this meant, but instead I decided intellectually that this card signified greetings from my deceased grandmother. At this stage dad had booked in for his surgical procedure, as he refused to take his prescribed heart medication, which made him feel incredibly cut off from his senses; his worst nightmare.

Prior to surgery, my father had tried to get hold of me, he had left several messages on my phone at the most ungodly hours and when my phone would be turned off. After realising that I had a handful missed calls and a long message on my phone and knowing that this was quite unlike his normally very laid back self, I started to feel a tad uneasy, but figured it was about the reality of the pending operation. We finally got hold of each other and probably had the longest and most in depth phone call in our life together. Although dad and I were very close and met on a regular basis, we had lived in different countries since I was twelve. In this phone call that I will never forget, dad asked me questions about my marriage, my son and whether I would have more children, whether I was happy with my life and what my future dreams were. It was with the most juxtaposed sensations in my heart and throat, that I told him about things we rarely spoke of. Both dad and I are known for, within our family, one word sentences, both spoken, written and messaged. It has often been a standard joke. Yet in this phone call we were nothing else but truly vocal, authentic and intimate.

What followed next, was a blur of an emotional roller coaster from believing that the operation had gone really well, to being on a long haul flight (the longest flight in my life) wondering if I would be able to hear his voice, feel his warmth and comforting embrace again. I wouldn’t, instead I accidentally erased his last voice message on my mobile.

As I landed at Arlanda airport I already intuitively knew dad had passed. When I was waiting for my hastily packed bag on the carousel, I knew. As my older brother and sister embraced me at the arrivals, I knew. I knew, and I couldn’t exactly explain how without sounding a bit imbalanced, but I knew because every fiber of my being had informed me during this one particular moment on the first flight, and it was supported by me awkwardly and repetitiously hearing my dad’s seriously out of tune humming of some song. Yet I had still intellectually doubted it all, until I saw my siblings’ faces.

I was given the option to visit dad’s body at the morgue, but I decided I wanted to remember dad from my memories of him alive and happy. Dad used to take us to the Bahamas every other year when we were kids, and then we stopped going, and one of the reasons why he told us, was because we had experienced Bahamas at its best, and going back now would reduce the beauty of the memories of this paradise. I took his advice, I believe he would have wanted me to do exactly what I did.

The experience of birth and death, for me, puts one so very close to the other realm, the place where our Souls originate. It is as if you have one leg in the Earth dimension and one in the spirit world for a time being, and as a result life can feel quite surreal. For me, this experience became a catalyst for change and truth realisation in my own life. I could no longer lie about things that clearly were not working for me. As I returned home to Australia, feeling so very alone and misplaced, I started to face what was the demolition of my ten year long relationship with my then husband, as well as this pseudo personality of myself that I had created to please others.

A common saying is that time heals all wounds, or that grief gets easier with time; it doesn’t. There is a little spot within me, reserved for the physical pain and loss of losing my dad. It’s a spot of pure pain and frustration of not being able to touch, hear, feel, listen to, and physically experience my dad ever again in this life time, not as a spirit, but as the human he was. That spot, is parked right there, in my energetic if not physiological body, and I can send it love, circumnavigate it or avoid it completely…but the moment I focus on that little well, or whatever it is, I feel loss and I cannot ignore it, nor remove it. What I can do, is to choose not to delve in it, but to guide my thoughts towards something more comfortable and feel-good, if I so feel like it. I realise that nothing is going to bring my Dad back in person, so I choose carefully and to my best ability how I desire to spend my time in the present moment, and without blocking any emotional insights either. This has of late, led me to not being able to physically cry and shed tears of sadness as much any more, I still do at times, but my intentions of wanting to visit pain emotionally needs to be fully aligned with my personal truth, or I just feel like an actor. In moments of wanting to anchor into a painful memory, I am now automatically seeing my truth, and the mental clarity that comes with this obliterates the hooking into the sad emotions…and consequently I feel a bit like a grown up, which I must admit can feel a tad boring sometimes because crying feels good, but it is also very sobering.

What I have learnt from my process of grieving, is that it really helps to parent one self and do the things that benefits both body and mind. Our physiology is basically governed by hormones, and so in times of deep stress, it matters what we eat, how we think and that we exercise, as stress hormones can cause a lot of havoc within our body and mind. A healthy diet, meditation and or contemplation as well as exercise, should really be compulsory in grieving as they form a trinity of support for the actual grieving process to take you on its due course, which surely must be personal growth of any form, and as deep as one would like to take it.

I have learnt to not be afraid of emotional pain, but to surrender into it, completely, like you do as you step into a hot tub. Surrender, and then see what happens, follow your own guidance, and trust that the next step in the process shall be revealed. There are no ten steps to anything in this life experience, because we are all individuals, but there is a general direction perhaps, the one that leads to feeling in tune with Self, and then from there, follow where your inner Self guides you.

I have also learnt, that it is fully possible to cry, feel pain and laugh whilst surfing the one wave of emotion. It is not crazy, it is simply a surf through emotional realisations and it is glorious, in fact it is a good sign of self authenticity and awakening. Furthermore, it is never too early to laugh after loss, nor is it ever too long/late to experience a sense of loss. What matters is the truthful intention behind visiting the landmarks of grief  and happiness within one’s emotional landscape. It is personal, and it is one’s right.

Much Love

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