Father’s Day is a day of celebration, connection, and togetherness, that’s what Father’s Day used to be for me, a funny card, a small gift, a time to chat and reminisce. When I see other daughters with their Dad now, a quietness comes over me, a sense of sadness as I recall what I once had with mine but no longer have. Yes, Dad, you may have died but you’ll never be forgotten. This Sunday I’m choosing to remember him with hope and joy – this is his legacy to me.
If your Dad is in your life, do make time to ask questions about his life, and write them down. Don’t let business or your lack of time be an excuse, you’ll regret it later. When they are no longer there that’s when you realize the time you had with them was far too short.
Dad’s death changed me in so many ways and its because of my experience with grief, that I do what I do today. Despite my struggles, my belief was you can heal your heart from loss. The sadness still creeps up on you from time to time, but by allowing the feelings to come up I know they will pass. Journaling is what helps me remember Dad and what I’m missing.
Gifts From Dad
He was the artist of the family. He taught my sister and me to appreciate nature, wildlife, a river—just about anything to him was a potential subject. Unfortunately, at the time, we did not appreciate his fine eye, although we loved nature and being outdoors. Often through our eyes, we saw the delights of play and not from the lens of a painter.
One gift to me was to see the beauty in nature so I could paint it with words. Just like an artist hones his painting skills, I, too, began honing my skills to paint with words. You never think about the death of your parents. They have been there forever; they will always be there you think. Except when one is taken from you the landscape suddenly changes. So many years now since Dad died, but his gifts to me continue to grow. They have lain dormant, like compost decaying, which eventually turns into rich fertile soil.
This desire of mine to write, timid at first, just like newly planted seeds, has started to root and grow. My words to describe what I want to say get stuck and hang back in fear, but when they do come forth, I delight in their creation. Sorry I have gotten ahead of myself and need to slowly go back to when it began, this desire of mine.
My Journey into Grief
During those first months of grief and tormented by so many emotions. Unable to think or work. Everything was such an effort, even the simplest of tasks. How lost I felt and eventually did lose myself for a time. A small seed of thought took hold during those early days of my grief and began to grow louder and louder with each day. What I needed was a road map or perhaps a grief map.
Perhaps I’d write a book, one that would assist me and others in knowing what to expect. Guiding my readers to show them the way through and, eventually, out. Finding my grief map seemed like a great idea because whenever I go on a journey, I always take a map along.
Dad had taught me from an early age how to read road maps, another of his gifts to me. I’m forever grateful because if I get lost, I can easily find my way back. Such a comfort to me to know that I have this ability and my inner compass.
When dad died, I didn’t have a map; my inner compass was broken and just kept spinning around. This went on for the next six months. Recognizing now that I was in the clutches of grief’s watery hands. Its effects were present in everything I did or didn’t do. My brain felt waterlogged. The ability to think or function properly eluded me. From time to time, my eyes would release the pressure and allow the tears to flow. Even my heart was drowning in the turbulent waters as it was tossed around by all the emotions ever known to humankind. For a time I’d live in this watery land of grief and feared I’d never get out.
To me, it felt like an abyss, which, according to the dictionary, describes beautifully what I was experiencing. An abyss is deep and it takes up immeasurable space; at times unfathomable, infinite; pure, primal chaos and it felt like hell. However, each day some new experience—sometimes laughter, like the sun—would peep through, showing me the way. I relied purely on instinct and intuition. This was a journey that I had to experience alone, without any external tools, and certainly with no beloved map to lend comfort.
My grief had pushed and pulled at me. Even it shook me so that I would release all the things in my life that no longer mattered. The petty arguments with my father tucked away in my memory were released and washed away. After about six months, grief deemed that I had been emotionally cleansed and slowly receded from my life. Feeling lighter now but still dazed. The sunshine and blue skies beckoned me on to another part of my life. Seemingly in calmer waters, and then on dry land, perhaps time to move on with my life. Although no longer buffeted by raging waters, I remained exhausted. For me, the land of grief was bewildering, because I’d never been taught what was expected of me or what to expect from the experience.
Eventually, I emerged from my journey in grief. Introspection, time, and support, and much self-care were required. Emerging stronger and wiser because I’d traveled grief’s many waterways and highways. Truly a difficult journey and one that all of us will eventually experience. The book I’d go onto to write is the road map that resulted from my journey with a beginning, middle & end through grief
Grieving a Loss
If you’re grieving the loss of your Dad on this Father’s Day, it’s my desire that this will help you and give you hope that your pain or tears won’t be forever and you too will be able to talk about your Dad, as I can with gladness and joy as you do.
Would you like support or assistance on your journey? Do reach out – another one of Dad’s gifts was I changed careers to become a Life After Loss Coach – [email protected]
Interested in reading more? You can find the book Grief’s Abyss Finding Your Pathway to Peace here
Being an orphaned adult was a term I found to be a curious one until I became one. The term can be used to describe who we are after both parents have died.
My remaining parent, Mum died 4 years ago, and I miss her in so many ways. Her smile, her generosity, love companionship, and sage wisdom. Wisdom gained from living life.
When Mother’s Day comes around, it’s always a sharp reminder of the fact my mother is no longer in my life. No more garden center trips to buy each other flowers on Mother’s Day. She always enjoyed gardening. When my parents moved into an apartment, they made sure they had a balcony so mum could continue to plant flowers in her pots. They were placed to enjoy from indoors and they especially loved sitting out there among their plants too.
Garden Center Avoidance
I no longer feel the urge to visit the garden centers on Mother’s Day, preferring instead to avoid them because it’s a sharp reminder of what I no longer have in my life. Seeing daughters with their moms, chatting, and being together made me feel sad. I’m not jealous at all, I’m happy to see them creating memories as we once did. I know all too soon, those daughters will stand beside me in a way when it is their mother’s turn to leave this earth.
It’s strange to think, as adults we should know how to live and be OK without our parents in our lives. The fact is, we’re not. To me, it seemed with each death, I was reduced to a child again. It wasn’t the adult me that remained but my emotions were that of a child. I became fearful, and resentful, could temper tantrum so easily and wail. In a way, I became a frightened child again unsure of her way in the world. Scared for my own survival without my parent’s comfort.
When you think of it, our parents are with us throughout our lives. We’ve never known life or imagined what our lives would be like without them. It’s as if our safety wheels were removed. We are unbalanced until we get the hang of riding the bike without them.
It takes time for us to become the balanced adults we were before their death. However, we eventually find our way. Until we are reminded of who is no longer in our lives. The pangs of sadness return as we remember our moms on Mother’s Day. Just for a moment, we become unbalanced.
Being orphaned means we must go through these celebrations on our own without the comfort of our other parent.
For many orphaned adults, like myself, we’ll enjoy the day with our own children but if you glance at us, you may catch a teardrop as we delve back into our memories of yesteryear when our Mothers were alive. It’s when the memories of the Mother’s Day rituals we did together surface and catch us off guard.
Once, I’ve shed my tear, I’ll make plans to go to the garden center the following week for my plants and will add some of mom’s favorites to plant in my garden in her memory.
I think it’s so important to continue to share our memories to pass along and keep old rituals alive or to create a new one. To me it is a way of honoring our loved ones in ways that are meaningful to us.
What are your thoughts on being orphaned on this special day?
When Death Happens
The last thing on my mind, was how would I find my life after this loss. I didnt recognize that I was about to begin my own healing journey. Those thoughts were far from confused mind. In that moment it was more important for me to find out how I could cope. My healing journey and finding life after loss would be part 3 in this journey of mine into grief.
The day dad died, I couldnt quite understand how outside the hospital the day was filling up with its “normal” that of “getting on with life”. Right now, my life was anything but normal our life had stopped but everyone elses life continued.
Where was help when you needed it the most I thought. I realized no one was coming to save us. I had to be the protector now for mum. Up until this point it had been Dad’s job. Looking back, growing up both my parents had fiercely protected my sister and me to the point I really didn’t know how or what to do at this moment. Dad had always been there to ask.
Figuring it out
Clearly, we weren’t prepared for what we would have to go through and face as a family or alone with our grief. Somehow we muddled through. We had to for there was no mentor or guide, it was a “figure it” out as you go along routine.
To begin with, there was help via the funeral folks but after that, we were very much alone.
For me, it was a struggle, I was overwhelmed by life, emotions, and feelings. Alone, I would journey for a while until I did find help. I was fortunate, with my nursing background I understood death but for the rest, it was my holistic friends I turned to and relied on to ease my pain.
How Others Heal
Over time I wondered, how did others heal and journey through their grief? My quest began and would be answered only when I did my own research. Frankly, many people didn’t. During the search I read about people becoming stuck in their grief, pining and longing for their loved ones. They would lose their vitality and their own lives as a result. It was as if they too had died alongside their loved one. This was tragic.
There were many more people like me who do eventually find their way back to life. Their lives forever changed as they learned to adapt and grow in ways they couldn’t have expected. Some would go on to create legacies or help others during their time of grief.
In the next group, these people grieved but got on with their lives fairly quickly after death. Looking at their characteristics it was noted they were generally happy with their lives and their work fulfilled them. Yes, they had deeply loved the person they lost but somehow, they didn’t lose themselves in their grief.
Death is about Finding You
It was then I recognized as I was doing my own healing work that the death itself became less about his death and more about finding me.
During our lives, there are many times we will be faced with many challenges and how to deal with them either brings you to your knees or you find a way to get up. It is in the getting up that so many lessons are learned along the way that contributes to growth. Life is structured this way and as humans, we are meant to be growing. This growth then becomes one of the head and heart learning. We need both if we are to develop wisdom and compassion.
Just knowing so many grieving a loss can lose their way or are unable to move on with their lives. I wanted to let you know that you can heal your grief and go on to live an amazing life.
I understand first hand what it is like to lose a loved one. This has taught me the value of empathy and compassion. Over the years, I have developed tools designed to help and guide you. If you recognize yourself in any of the categories described above. Please let’s connect so I can share more about what I do.
"Too often we identify with our labels but labels limit us they are not who we truly are"
Labels Don’t Tell the Whole Story
Who you are is not defined by your name or even what you do in life for you are much more. Too often your self- worth is tightly tied to that of your work role or relationship label.
These are jigsaw parts adding color and meaning to the whole of who you think you are. You wear many roles and hats but they aren’t who you are either.
The Sum of the Whole
It’s through your roles and relationships that form the sum of your experiences that shape you. The cycle of life continues as you grow older and change, 0ften adding new labels as you evolve into the next stage of your life.
Your name is used first to identify who you are and the clan you belong to. You become a son or daughter, sister or brother, girlfriend or boyfriend showing the world more of who you are. Then you marry and a new label of husband or wife is given, followed next by mother or father.
No Longer Five
I’m no longer a girl but my age puts me in the category of senior or elder but underneath I’m still me. The same me I was at 5. Somehow I got buried under the weight of the labels I used to define me or hide behind. Doing so gave me a false sense of self-worth.
It isn’t until death or major loss occurs, the great equalizer and it doesn’t matter which label was used it doesn’t stop the cycle of life from occurring. Underneath we are all too human and with any loss, grief pays a visit and stays for a while, perhaps even a long while. It is during this time that we have an opportunity to shake off our labels as we are brought to our knees, for truly what do they matter?
A Crisis in Identity
We call out “who am I” when the label no longer fits.
A crisis in identity occurs when we allow our self-worth to be defined by labels. It is so important that we take care not to do so as our labels can easily be taken away.
Relationships can define us but we can become lost in them. Often meshing and melding with “others” in our lives to fit in. We do this also to be loved and feel loved. Each time we do so another piece of us is lost.
When someone or something is taken from us we hurt, we’re upset and a temper tantrum at the injustice is thrown. It is now we must learn how to live our lives without the person and our label attaching us. This is your opportunity to rediscover the YOU underneath. The one that got buried living life.
You may feel broken and worn down by this experience but there is a part of you that is always whole, is always you. It is simply waiting to be discovered again, dusted off and brought out into the sunlight to play and to dream again.
This is how grief coaching helps you find YOU after a loss.
If you’re ready to explore – please message me and let’s talk. Your life is waiting for you but needs your participation.