January 4, 2017.
It was as if time had froze.
Losing a parent is only the natural order of things and in my case was even something I was supposed to be prepared for, but I wasn’t.
For 7 years, 7 long years, I watched my dad slowly slip away. It’s really odd to mourn for someone while they are still alive. After every good-bye, I would internalize if that was the last. I would grow angry and anxious all at the same time, to the point where I would just suppress the thought and simply hoped for a miracle, in other words, I was in denial to what I was witnessing.
I feared so very badly of losing him for good. Even though my dad was no longer as I knew him, I could still hug him and hear his voice. But the thought of no longer having that was something I couldn’t accept. I was in anticipatory grief.
Come January 4th, 2017, I watched him take his last breath. It was a very confusing time. It was somehow the most ugliest sight I have witnessed yet there was so much beauty and peace surrounding that moment.
He was free. No longer chained to the chambers of his body.
Today, exactly one year later, I have found solace in knowing this. I’ve grown to realize that it never truly gets better, the void is never filled, and nothing said or done can bring that sunshine back. But rather, the loss is something you learn to live with.
Within the past year, I have tried to call his phone twice. The first time in hopes of him somehow picking up, and each time I called, the more I cried my eyes out. Sounds silly but grief is one hell of an emotion.
The second time was recently, actually. My roommate and I were experiencing maintenance issues in our apartment and I said aloud, “here, let me just call my dad, he’ll know what to do.” And without thinking I proceeded to call. In that moment, I felt a heaviness in my heart, because those moments will continue to happen for the rest of my life. But I believe that was a testament to how much his presence is still felt on Earth.
I may not physically have him here but his spirit is strong as hell. I can’t even count the amount of times of when I’m deciding on doing one thing as opposed to another and I hear his fatherly tone as if he were standing right in front of me.
If you’ve experienced loss in your life, whether it be a friend, partner, or relative, I would suggest trying three things in times of grief.
- Continue their legacy
- Share their stories and practices.
- Talk to others
- In my network of friends, not too many people have experienced the loss of a parent (or so I assumed), so I’d found myself holding back because a part of me felt like others wouldn’t understand such grief, but that was not completely true. Throughout this past year, I’ve discovered a number of friends who’ve lost a parent, grandparent, sibling, etc. and had I not shared my experience, I probably would have never known that we had that commonality.
- I’ve also connected with people whose parent(s) are ill and are not sure how to cope with their reality, so being able to share experiences with one another can be extremely cathartic.
- Talk to your angel/ watch for the signs of them communicating with you
- Just because their physical being is no longer here does not mean their spirit is not among us. Dreams, people, scents, and even sightings of certain animals can all be ways your loved one is trying to communicate with you.
- A few days after the funeral, I had to fly back to work. The man sitting next to me on the plane happened to look exactly like my dad! He wore the same cologne, the same style of Levi’s, and was bald just as my dad was. I was shook because it felt all too coincidental. I truly think it was my dad’s way of letting me know he would be with me on my journey back home.
So how to deal with loss? I really don’t have a straight answer. The only thing I can say is although it’ll never feel better, it will get easier. The void associated with losing a loved one, in my opinion, is both a heartache and a blessing. Although we can no longer share these moments with them, they are no longer hurting, and are simply at peace, which I’m sure, is something they’d hope for us to find.