I apologize in advance for the nuttyness of this post. It’s hard to put together a full thought on grief, all I can manage is to spit out what I’m thinking and hope it gets the point across.
Yesterday was my Dad’s birthday. This was the second birthday we’ve celebrated since he died. In 2013 he celebrated his 50th and he was ending a three month sobriety program after a particularly bad holiday season. He was a bi-polar alcoholic with manic-depressive tendencies. I had that sentence memorized by age 4. It never really meant much to me, other than him needing to take care of himself in a different way than most people. To me what he really was, was someone who felt things deeper than most people. When he was happy, he was H-A-P-P-Y, and when he was sad… he was really down.
For most of my life I thought my Dad was sober. It wasn’t until my Mom’s struggle with addiction became apparent that the truth came out that he wasn’t as sober as I thought. The two weeks that led up to my Dad’s death we didn’t really talk. He left a couple of messages that were really strange, one asked about a cat I had as a kid at my Mom’s house, but we didn’t really speak much after Christmas. The manic side of him was out in full force, and he said some really hateful things.
Then, one night, I got the phone call. It was weird, I usually ignore my phone after about 9pm. I saw my step-mom’s number which is unusual. Five minutes later my little sister’s number. Then my grandparents. Then my sister, and I answered.
The hardest part of handling his death was knowing that my brothers and sister didn’t get nearly as much time with the amazing, loving, crazy Dad that I knew. So much more of their time was spent with the man who struggled with so many different addictions and problems in his own head. Or atleast a lot of the time they will remember.
I don’t know if they will remember that he wanted them to do every sport they found interesting and then some, and how he was cheering them on every step of the way. Or if they will remember how he dressed as Santa at the neighborhood Christmas party and delivered everyones presents. Or that any time they saw an animal they wanted to bring home it happened. One of my life goals is to make sure they know how wonderful he was, and understand that bad comes with good. The beauty of people is in their attempts to triumph over struggle.
All I want is to be able to tell them every day how beautiful and wondeful he thought we all were, and how nothing in the world meant more to him than us.
One tradition I have started is to go do something I have never done before on the day he died. I have thought about doing it on his birthday instead, but for some reason it seems more fitting the way it is now. It forces me to step away from the things I do daily and really feel the emotions running through my body. It gives me a chance to acknowledge my grief and celebrate his life all at once, there’s no shoving the emotions into the back corner of my mind.
Do you have any techniques for handling grief that work well?