Dad, Grief

Forcing The Sun To Shine

The last two days have been gray. I mean that very literally…rainy, cold, and overcast. Since the seasons are changing and the trees are losing their leaves, even the vegetation looks gray. Even the few trees that are covered with vibrant leaves some how seem dulled by the rain and the clouds. Gray. I’m not sure if this is what put me in my own gray mood emotionally, or if I was headed there anyway – I’ve managed to have some very sad days amidst brilliant blue skies and sunshine – but during these last two days I’ve felt just as gray as the skies have looked.

I finally emailed my Dad’s oldest sister yesterday. She lives in Knoxville and was a very important part of our lives during Dad’s last two months on earth. She is a nun so her religious and spiritual position allowed her to be a source of counsel for Dad, no matter how distant religion was in his own life. I know that those last two months would have been a lot harder if it had not been for her, on all of us. She has gone out of her way to stay in touch with my brother and I, she has sent emails and letters and gifts to help us in our grief. My brother and I have both sucked monumentally at responding back to her. For the same reason…there are just so many words to say to her and we still don’t know how to say them. So – after she inquired with our Mom this weekend to make sure neither one of us had moved before sending us something she brought back from the Holy Land, we both decided we needed to email her. And while we sent two different emails from our own individual voices, they both said essentially the same thing: We love you, We thank you, and We miss you. We really miss Dad.

That email that I typed out in the wee hours of yesterday morning seemed to act as a thief of any joy I may have had for the rest of the day. Just having to reach deep to send her the sincere email she deserved, it opened up so much of the pain I try to push down every day. My brother and I talk often lately because we fear we may be past to point of acceptable public grieving, yet we have days we hurt so much we just have to talk to someone. It’s usually a text that says something like, “Really missing Dad today.” Just sending that out in the world for the other sibling to see, it gives us a quite a bit in the way of solace because we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the other person completely understands the pain we feel.

So…that email put me in a funk yesterday. It did the same for my brother. I just ended up having one of those days where every little thing reminded me of how much I still miss my Dad and how unfair I still feel it is that he is gone. He’ll never know about LilZ’s play, NikkiZ’s first soccer season, and he’ll never hear AndyZ’s laugh. While logically I understand that life just isn’t fair…there’s no mandatory balance anywhere to keep order established. Emotionally? I just find myself angry that he didn’t get to do the things and see the things he deserved to do and see. He raised two kids alone. If anyone deserved a very long and very healthy life…it was him. Yet – every day things transpire in our lives that he’ll never know about. Things we would have enthusiastically called to tell him about, or asked for him to come witness himself. I’m certain he would have planned to be in Tucson in December to see MrZ run his marathon. I know he would buy tickets to LilZ’s first theatrically performance. He would have come to soccer games and probably helped coach on the nights we needed him. He would tickle AndyZ mercilessly.

But he’s not. He wont. Ever again. And the last two days this has just consumed me.

I woke up today and things look like they’re going to be gray. Again. I feel like it’s hard to get out of these emotional ruts, these downward spirals of grief, on any day. But when Mother Nature won’t help me out with some sun? It’s not even possible. So, I’m setting out today – now that I’ve gotten some of the grief out on this blog (Another thing as instrumental to helping me heal from Dad’s death is was through every pregnancy loss back in the day of Reproduction Hell) – and I’m trying to force some sun into my heart. Two days of this darkness is enough, for no other reason than I’ll gain the other 15lbs I’ve lost back just by eating as I tend to do when I’m sad. While there’s something to allowing yourself those days of grief as part of The Process, there’s also something important in realizing when you’re heading towards dark places that aren’t good for those around you. Much less for yourself. I’ve been in those places before and I don’t want to return…Thank You Very Much. So, I pull some of the things Dad himself taught me about spirituality and emotional health and how it affects those close to us, and I buck up. Today I try to use my memory of him as strength to pull me out of the rut I’m falling in instead of letting my grief over missing him push me further down into it. I think he’d like it better that way anyway.

I’ll cry a little bit more, maybe send another text to my brother, and I’ll start my day over. Have the second cup of coffee…take a deep breath…and find the strength to be the wife and Mom my family deserves, that my Dad would want me to be and I’ll do it because he did it. And he did it amazingly well. I’m confident that there is no greater way to honor a brilliant parent than trying to be as brilliant of one yourself.

A Rare Family Shot (Thanks DamPaw!)

28 thoughts on “Forcing The Sun To Shine”

  1. Thinking about you. This was a really thoughtful beautiful post – and anyone that has experienced grief has seen those gray days. I think you’re doing a brilliant job honoring him.

  2. Oh, honey (and please forgive me for saying “honey,” but it’s the only way I can address friends when they’re sad–it’s a quirk I have). This is so raw and heartbreaking, yet so very wise. I’ve never lost anyone closer than a grandparent, and I hope that when I do, I’ll remember to come back and read your chronicles of grief, and for anyone who ever feels alone or lost in their own grief, I’m directing them to come here. I hope it gives you at least a little bit of comfort to know that your ability to write through this will help someone else.

  3. There is no deadline on grief.
    That said, taking care of yourself through it is important, you’re right. Exercise might help – just a brisk walk to get the blood flowing and clear the cobwebs.

  4. What Cara said. Grief is so hard and lasts and lasts. Which I guess won’t be very comforting to you, but you know you’re not alone in feeling the way you do. It’s so hard. Tons of good, peaceful wishes for you…

  5. I was doing ok until I saw the picture at the bottom of the post. You write so evocatively and you have a beautiful family.

  6. You cannot OVER grieve. My dad passed in 2001 and every time I hear that country song where the guy flys to get his big brother dying of cancer (“where I’m from”?) I cry. But not every day will be so grey all day, just moments. Hang in there.

  7. Thinking of you, Miss Z. And hoping you find some sunshine in your heart to help you swing back from the sad/grey moments.

  8. When I was in the darkest parts of my personal grief I started looking for every emotion every day – just keeping my eye out for the moment I could be proud, or smile at something along with those moments where I was crushed or lonely.

    It is a beautiful post.

  9. “we may be past to point of acceptable public grieving”

    You have just said (beautifully) what I have been struggling to put into words myself. I lost my mother 28 years ago and have relied on my grandmother ever since. I lost my grandmother in February and am still pained every day.

    I’m glad you have your brother. I have my sister and she is everything.

  10. You are an amazing parent because you learned from an amazing example. Wishing you sunny skies ahead (in weather AND in all other ways).

  11. Here’s hoping you’ll see the sun again soon. (And really, grief just IS. There’s no time limits. It is a testament to how much you loved your dad that you still miss him so much.)

  12. So sorry. I’m thinking of you. I’ve been having a few of those gray days myself, as this Friday marks four years since my Grandpa passed away. It’s so hard, isn’t it? Some days more than others.

    Anyway, I’m thinking of you and praying for you. xoxo

  13. I’m sorry your day is looking dark. I know the feeling of thinking the days of public-approved grieving is past. And, I think there is a point where friends/family start to expect mourners to be “done” with it, but you’re only a few months out. Don’t put pressure on yourself to tamp down what you need to feel.

    There will come a day when this pain eases. Until then, take solace in your memories and comfort in your sibling and your beautiful family. You are doing great, I think, if that doesn’t sound too strange to say. I can tell by the tone of your blog posts that you’re already having more “good” days than “bad.” Give yourself credit for that!

  14. I have no wise words for you, since I have no wise words for myself. 6 months ago (tomorrow to be exact) my husband of 35 years took his own life. He had been living in horrific physical pain for 18 years, but I had no idea that this was on his agenda.

    All I do know is that there are days that I don’t want to get out of bed, but I usually do. There are days when I think this pain will never end, but logically, I know it will eventually get better. Joy will come back eventually. Already, there are days that are good. But I accept that some are simply going to be bad. Gray days DO seem to make it worse for me. Exercise DOES seem to help chase some of the immediate, physical pain away that I sometimes feel. Sadness., not so much. I have finally begun to get counselling, and I’m convinced that it is helpful. If nothing else, just someone to say that I’m not doing anything weird, and that grief has its own timetable and it is a journey. A journey with curvy, bumpy roads that often seem to not lead forward, but backward…
    It helps me to look back at things I wrote a month after, 2 months after…to see that small though it may be, I am making progress, and so are you. We WILL get through this…just keep on walking….and Do The Next Thing…if that is getting out of bed, caring for your children or continuing to learn to cook and bake, or this morning, in my case, taking a shower!! Just keep on moving. (sorry this is so long)

  15. Gray days are harder. I hope as hard as it was to email your aunt that ultimately it will be a step towards healing. As always, I am wishing you all the best.

  16. 1 year ago today Shane left the boys and I. I just wanted to say I love you, always have and always will and I am so sorry you are having to go through this. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone… If you ever need to talk you have my numbers… I will listen. I will sympathize. I am riding the same roller coaster you are, so I could offer some sort of understanding. Anyway, love you and hope your days get brighter…

  17. I read something very wise about a month ago. It said the grief period only exists for those who aren’t grieving. For those who are, it is not a period of time, but the new normal.

    You won’t ever stop loving your dad, and your grief is just another form of love.

    grieve on.

  18. Hello dear! I’ve been following your blog for a few months now. Big hugs to you.

    Those dark, dreary days make it really hard to pull yourself out of the darkness mentally. It’s rough.

    Some days it’s all I can do not to cry The brighter days are a little easier.

    Thinking of you…

  19. WOW! You are so brave. I just recently lost my Mom to liver cancer. She was diagnosed in May and was gone in August. She was the rock of our family and its very hard to keep on going with out her. I also think all this is very unfair because my Mom was the NICEST person you could have ever met. She didnt deserve to be in pain and suffer like she did. Sometimes you wonder why things have to happen like that. I asked GOD why did he take her? Knowing that my family was going to miss her SO much, why did he take her? But that is something that only he knows why. Its very hard to get up and be a Mom, a wife and a caregiver to my Dad who is miserable over my Mom’s death. But you know what? I have found the strenght in GOD. Although I miss her terribly and feel like giving up every day when I remember her last days on this earth, but I feel this wonderful strenght that I know only comes from the one above. I respect your religious beliefs, I just wanted to share my pain with someone who can relate to it. May God bless you and your family.

  20. There isn’t a deadline for grief. You get to extend that as long as you need. The IRS needs to use that policy, but I digress…
    I completely agree that people outside of your family sometimes don’t understand that pain, though and I am so thankful that you have a brother to go through this with- despite the gravity of the loss.
    Please call or e-mail if you want to walk someday just to get outside. I know that sounds a little trivial, but sometimes it helps to just change the environment a bit.
    And if we happen to catch a few rays of sun, that Vitamin D will whip you right back into shape!
    This is a wonderful tribute to your brilliant dad. While I know he wouldn’t want you to grieve, I’m sure he’s thankful to be remembered and honored.
    AND… that picture at the bottom is BEAUTIFUL!

  21. I’m so sorry, Kim. Grief like that just doesn’t follow rules, so try not to be too hard on yourself about what you “should” or “should not” be feeling. You’re always welcome to vent to us weirdos on the internet 😉
    Also, that picture makes me giggle a little, because E has so much hair and it kinda looks like he stole Donnie’s lol.

  22. I’m sorry. You do what you need to do to get through. I’m very glad you and your brother can “be there” for each other.

  23. I just have to echo what some of the others have said: there is no end point where grief becomes unacceptable. I do this to myself all the time, feeling guilty about feeling sad, and there is no reason for it. You feel what you feel, and that’s OK.

  24. i have been leaning on my sister a lot lately — she is always there for me. and i thought, just yesterday, who will i lean on, go to, vent with… if/when she’s the one i’ve lost? i am older, I hope (selfishly) i go before her. his sister must be so sad, to have lost her bro.

    so sorry your family has been going through this tough time.

  25. I’m glad you can be honest about your gray days and how hard it still is– your words are probably helping someone else going through some sort of pain. Thanks for telling it like it is.

  26. I just couldn’t read this without offering you a hug. {{{hug}}}

    I completely understand the grieving you are doing. And it’s NORMAL. It is important for you to do exactly what you’re doing: grieving your immense loss. Glad you have your brother and aunt and mom and of course your immediate family to lift you up and keep you grounded, but the feelings are there. The feelings are REAL and it totally bites. Even when rationally it makes sense, emotionally it hurts beyond belief. And for that, you deserve as much time as you need.

    Eventually, you’ll have more sunny days than gray days, but they’ll never truly go away. That’s the sad reality, but really it’s good that you have reminders of the love and memories you share with your dad.

    Thanks for being honest. There’s a cheesy, cheesy successory (do you know those?) that says: “It takes both sunshine and rain to make a rainbow.” I try to remember that when the feelings of despair, grief, and longing are especially acute. We have to have them in order to appreciate the full beauty of the experience.


  27. I hear you. I got choked up this afternoon talking about my mother’s best friend (like a mom to me and my siblings) who passed away in March. Whether you realize it or not, heading into the holiday season and being faced with the prospect of the holidays without your dad (or my ‘other mother’–she was ALWAYS there for holidays and special occasions) is tough. (and I couldn’t read your post or type this comment without tears)

    They say the first year is always the toughest. We’ll be doing some things differently this year to escape the hole left by her not being there.

    Don’t try to fit into any ‘socially acceptable’ time frame for your mourning. There is no time limit on grief. You are blessed to have a brother with whom you can share your feelings. Embrace that. (Maybe he’d like to help coach NikkiZ’s soccer team!)

    Meanwhile, while you’re working through your grief, be sure to take solace in everything that is beautiful in your life…in your day. And yes, I know that’s difficult when there’s a gray film blanketing your world. Know that the sun WILL shine again. …and it will be hot. …and you will feel the need to comment on boob sweat.


  28. You’re my sun, Zoot! I hardly ever read blogs but when I’m feeling down, I come to yours and read all the entries I’ve missed because you are just such a lovely person.

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