(123) Dad, I missed you so much

Dad, I missed you so much

The story starts with the only time I can consciously remember seeing my father. It ends with the enormous loss during the upbringing of my son. Yes Dad, I missed you so much … afterwards.

As a 3-year-old, I can still remember very well the image of my father about which the story in this blog is about. There are other images, but … these have been photos that have gradually disappeared over the years due to the many removals. That one image, 70 years ago now, which this blog is about, is still crystal-clear to me. However, it seems as if I am now looking through a magnifying glass. I see my father’s face in every detail. The rest of the space he is in, is blurred.

As I now remember it
As a 3-year-old, I see myself on my knees in the hallway of my grandparents' house and play with my grandfathers's blue-grey wooden toolbox.
The toolbox

As a 3-year-old, I see myself on my knees in the hallway of my grandparents’ house and play with my grandfathers’s blue-grey wooden toolbox. I finally got the lid open and nothing was in the box. From the noises behind me I could hear that my grandmother was busy in the kitchen. Furthermore the house was quiet, very quiet and … the way I now experience it again and letting the feeling of that moment come to me … the house feels as if it waited for something … as if something very intense … something very important was about to happen.

Then the front door opens, and my mother comes in. As soon as she sees me, there is a big smile on her face, and I am glad to see her again. She asks if I will go with her to my Father. Of course, I want to. She picks me up and carries me upstairs to the room where my Father is resting. It is the room I am never allowed to enter. He has tuberculosis and everyone is so terrified that he could infect me that I was certainly not allowed to go to him.

My Father has just woken up and while my Mother is sitting with me on her lap on the floor, away from the bed, he is turning on his side. When he sees me, a radiant smile appears on his face. His eyes are shining all over, he is so happy. So much energy and love he radiates to me. It is a contact from eye to eye … from soul to soul … short and intense. It feels like a farewell … as if he knows he will never see me again.

My mother lifted me up again and we went back downstairs. It was far too short. I wanted to go back to him, but it was not allowed. They were so afraid that I would also be infected with TB. That just wasn’t goingto happen.

Years later

Years later I heard from my Mother that my Father had died a few weeks later. My Mother and Grandparents never really wanted to talk about my Father; that’s how it felt with me. Only many years later during the upbringing of Mervyn, my son, I started to miss my Father enormously. I would have liked so much to talk to him about raising a son. How would he have raised me and what would he have run into? What else would he have wanted to do differently afterwards? So that I wouldn’t have had to raise my Son with “trial and error”. As a father to my son, the number of failures is in stark contrast to the bits that succeeded. Unfortunately, my Father was not allowed to experience my upbringing and that of his grandchild. Dad, I missed you so much!

What I became aware of again

What I realised again while writing this blog is that memory is a fantastic tool. You can’t retrieve everything from your memory just like that. It usually requires triggers, such as a smell, a colour, a sound, an image, or an emotion. One of the triggers with me was a journey through my soul where you go back to your past under hypnosis. Another trigger recently was during a training about loss and mourning in young people. What I now also realise … realise again … is that the consequences of loss and mourning can surface again (many) years later. Time does not heal all wounds, there will always be scars left. It is what it is.

(112) Her world stopped turning

No matter how great your loss and sadness are, how you react to it, no matter how long ago it was, what one thinks of it, there is usually a way to get out that deep valley, the valley if that great loss and sorrow. Of course, you don’t have to find the way out alone. You can get support, that is, if you allow it.

Her world stopped turning

Her world stopped turning. One of Monica’s breasts was removed because of breast cancer. For clarity, Monica is a fictitious name. About a year later she also lost her son to cancer, just before his 8th birthday. How harsh life can be. It’s so unfair.

How harsh can life be!

In the meantime, again a year has passed in Monica’s life.  She is still struggling with that great loss and sorrow. Yeah, who doesn’t? She’s still getting tired quickly and still can’t concentrate. Everything in life seems totally insignificant to her … especially when you compare that to that huge loss.

“Yes,” she says, “I can’t get anything out of my hands. I would really like to continue my life … but … I just can’t get it done. “

Panic

Panic strikes when the company doctor thinks Monica should be able to work again. Doesn’t he understand I’m getting tired quickly, that I can’t concentrate?

Panic strikes when people around her have an opinion about just everything. The death of her son is almost a year ago … the removal of her breast even longer. Why would you still have such an immense sadness? Shouldn’t you have processed your grief by now, right?

Panic strikes when Monica wonders how to respond to all those reactions. To her it seems that there are two worlds … the world in which she lives … and … the world in which everyone else is living. At times she can feel so lonely.

Lonelyness

It has been a while that managers and colleagues from the company she works for, regularly contacted her or stopped by. It seems as if Monica no longer exists for them. Apart from the occasional contacts with the company doctor and human resources, nobody contacts her anymore. She must find out everything by herself and even resolve it.

Why don’t they see me?

“Don’t they understand what’s going on with me?” says Monica. “Can no one give me a helping hand? Is that so much to ask? Is there no one who even understands how gruelling times are now for me? The question ‘how I’m doing,’ they ask out of social courtesy rather then they really do want to know the answer. Can no one even produce any empathy? “

“I’m struggling more than enough in coping with my loss and sorrow. Why do I have to consider someone else? Why don’t they have any consideration for me? Is that too much to ask?” Monica asks herself. “There’s no one who hears me. No one who really listens to me. Help! “

Cry for help

On the one hand, everything in Monica’s life seems utterly insignificant when you compare that to her huge loss. But on the other hand, she’s too proud to ask for help.

And yet … Monica wants, as she said before, to continue her life … but … she just can’t get it done. Her cry for help is loud and clear! A cry that should never be ignored! By nobody!

Monica’s cry is finally heard, and people have gone along with her step by step. Her world that stopped turning, got into motion again slowly but surely. The way things look now, Monica will be fine in some point in time. However, the “scars” of her loss and sorrow will never go away, with as result that Monica will look at the world differently than before. It’s just the way it is.

Conclusion
Hope glimmers on the horizon!

No matter how big your loss and grief is … no matter how harsh and emotional you respond to this … no matter how long ago it happened … whatever people in your area think about it or their opinions are … and how you respond to this (complex) entirely … there is usually a way to get out of that deep valley … the valley of that great loss and sorrow.

Of course, you don’t have to find that road alone. There are countless people who can help you with this. People like family members, dear friends, experiential experts, professional caregivers or people from your immediate environment. Central to this is that you are willing to ask for and accept their help. It is also central that they can and want to give you that help … and continue to give that to you if you indicate you need it.

However, before that happens, it must be clear that help is needed. That could be because your world is starting slowly to move again and you, the grieving person, eventually start to realize that you can’t handle your loss or grieving on your own. That it is also possible for all of us to assure that we do not leave the grieving, you, alone in processing the loss or grief.

In a nutshell, no matter what happens or how long it takes, all of us should, without exception, stay in touch with each other … if only to help each other when one of us needs help.