dealing with grief

As I’ve said in several of my blog posts, 2021 was a real rollercoaster of a year for me. I had many victories (I landed a publishing deal for my first novel, and I travelled to Canada for the first time) but I also suffered a tremendous loss in the family. My dad passed away, which really turned my world upside down. The event came swiftly and suddenly, and it took several weeks to even come to terms with what had taken place.

My dad was always the rock in my life. He was a man of strong principles and convictions. He’d lived and worked in the U.K., Germany, Kenya, and Australia. He was wise and knowledgeable; prudent and creative. I learned a tremendous amount from him, ranging from self-discipline to personal independence. When he passed, it was as if an intrinsic part of me had been ripped away from my very being.

There were moments following his death when I truly felt as if I would never feel happy again. I cried every time I woke up. I cried throughout the day. I cried myself to sleep. When I finally slept I dreamt about him.

The pain wasn’t just mental or emotional – I felt it in my body. There was tension in every muscle. My head throbbed always.

The hardest thing was seeing that my other family members were in pain also. There was obviously nothing I could do to quell their sadness. The thing we needed was time.

Of course I’d heard it said that ‘time heals all wounds.’ Having never experienced true loss as an adult, those words had never really applied to me. And when I was progressing through the stages of grief myself, there felt like there was no light at the end of the tunnel. It felt like there was no end to the grief.

Slowly but surely, however, things started to improve. There was no magical date when the grief disappeared. It was a slow, gradual process, and then acceptance started to sink in.

The one thing that helped me get through this turmoil was to distract myself. Distraction of any kind was good for me during this time. I saw this grieving period almost like a sickness that had to run it’s course through my body. All I could do was sit and wait for it to pass.

I distracted myself with movies, mostly. Mindless indulgence was the best remedy. Anything too serious or involved (like a novel or a non-fiction book) wouldn’t do, because I didn’t have the patience or clarity of mind to be able to focus. Trash tv and comedy movies were great. My partner and I would stay up late and watch stuff until I was too exhausted to watch any more.

Larger distractions were even better. When Christmas rolled around, I had all of the details to focus on, such as planning everyone’s Christmas presents and listing everything I’d need for the dinner. And by the time Christmas itself arrived, some of the wounds had partially healed, and my family were able to enjoy the time together.

The point of this post is really to say that the melancholy you experience while grieving does go away. It may seem as if it never will, but it will. I still miss my dad, of course – I think about him every single day – but now I remember the good memories and the life lessons he taught me, instead of just crying about the loss.

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