Pressing Through the Stages of Grief
This Sunday, October 8th would have been my father’s 75th birthday. He passed away on August 22, 2016. In memory of this occasion, my mom, siblings and I are traveling to my dad’s hometown where he is buried to view in person the headstone that marks his final resting place.
Picking out the headstone was a group effort. We all worked together to make sure the identifying marker was an adequate representation of who my dad was while he was here with us. For me, the task was a continuation of the grieving process. People say the first year after a death is the hardest because it’s a year of firsts. The first holiday without your loved one. The first birthday celebration without your loved one doing their signature expression of joy. For us, picking out the headstone was done prior to the one year anniversary of my dad’s death. At the time, I’m not sure if the finality of this project registered with each of us.
While we all deal with grief in our own way, I carry the label of being the emotional one. Not just in coping with grief, in all aspects. I’m okay with that. It’s something I’ve embraced and learned from. As we prepare for the memorial on Sunday, I find myself wondering if any of the grief process gets any easier. When word spread about my dad’s passing, many people offered condolences that came with a warning.
“Don’t let anyone tell you how to grieve.”
“Allow yourself time to grieve however long it takes.”
Multiple people echoed these two sentiments and over a year later, I cherish this advice. The death of a parent is a significant life event for a person no matter what age the child is when it happens. Allowing yourself time to grieve and address the emotions that come with it definitely ensure you grieve in a healthy manner. As I remember my dad and imagine him smiling as we sing him happy birthday, I’m sensing a vibe of finality. It feels like once I see the headstone in person something will change. Maybe the tears won’t flow as frequently; maybe my yearning to seek my father’s advice or just hear his voice won’t hurt as much. I don’t know what if anything will change after October 8th.
But for now, I’ll follow the advice I received last year and go with the flow. Time will tell as the process continues.