My father died a month ago. It was expected, though it happened sooner than we thought, and I am grieving. Although I have supported grieving clients over the years, it’s been a while since I personally experienced it so deeply.
I learned after my grandmother died over 10 years ago, the importance of taking time to grieve. My grandaddy died a few years before her and in being a caretaker, instead of grieving, I immediately stepped in to make sure my grandma was okay since I knew it was a huge loss and transition for her. When she died, the grief was compounded because I was also grieving for my grandaddy.
There were eleven days between the death of my dad and his funeral to allow time for one of his grandsons to be there and to plan it around people’s work schedules. Because my dad and I were so close, talking to each other every evening by phone unless we had seen each other, I immediately felt his loss. My commitments during those eleven days were minimal and I was able to sit with the feelings of my loss.
I’m at an age in which I have friends in similar situations. In the last year I have known about the loss of a parent from two of my closest friends. Staying connected with friends, especially ones who have experienced a similar loss, is healing. Knowing that others have gotten through a sad transition reminded me that I would get through, too.
Most of all, partly because of the amazing clients I have, I was able to give myself grace. I rescheduled some client sessions. I allowed the churches my family is connected to, to plan a meal for the family. I took the time to look through family photos to find pictures of my daddy for the slide show we put together. I gave myself the space that I needed to connect with my feelings and grieve.
It’s been four weeks and one day since my dad died. I’m back to seeing clients regularly as well as my classwork. Yes, I went ahead and started a doctorate program during the last few weeks of my dad’s life, partly not realizing he would be gone so quickly. Although from the outside it looks like a return to “normal” life, I still take the time to recognize the feelings I’m experiencing revolving around the loss of my father. And that’s okay.