Today marks the first Friday anniversary of my father’s passing. It was on Friday morning that I got the call that he was gone, just five days after I’d last seen him. Six years have gone by now, but does grief ever go away?
I struggled a lot with what to write today. What is meaningful, and what is dwelling on things that I can’t change? Am I dragging out the pain of loss? How do I accurately reflect how I feel now?
Research indicates that grief peaks for many people six months after a loss. But statistics aren’t comforting, nor do they reflect the actual emotions and experiences that we must process.
I went to see a therapist in January, 2018, almost exactly a year after Papa’s funeral. Everything set me off, and I was angry and lost … so, so angry at everything, all the time. I blamed God, I blamed myself, and I couldn’t find my way to feeling better.
Unsurprisingly, Shakespeare describes my feelings better than I can. When I saw this phrase, it really resonated with me: “The unseen grief that swells with silence in the tortured soul.”
Nothing was helping me—not my wonderful and supportive husband, not my caring family, not my job, or my writing. Chocolate, exercise, drinking, hanging out with my friends, nothing gave me any comfort. I read a lot of light-hearted books, because heavy and dark topics overwhelmed me. I watched superhero shows in small bursts, desperate for any distraction that could entertain me.
The therapist recommended journaling, which I have mentioned a few times really helped me. “Give sorrow words,” Shakespeare said, “the grief that does not speak knits up the o-er wrought heart and bids it break.” It didn’t matter what I said, though, if no one was listening. I of course talked about my grief, but the freedom to write my words down finally granted me release.
Does grief ever go away? I’m not going to be flippant and give you a pat answer. Obviously, the answer is no. But it does get easier to bear.
How do I feel today, six years later? I can answer that honestly. I’ve learned a type of empathy I didn’t have before. I’m no longer overwhelmed with uncontrollable emotions over this loss. I still feel sad, but those feelings are tempered now by good memories, too. I will never stop missing my dad. That particular hole in my heart will never fully heal. But I’ve learned and grown from it.