I lost my dad last week. It has taken me so long to just write this next sentence. It’s as if, if I keep writing after saying I lost my dad–then I lost my dad. It’s true. My dad is gone. I’m at acceptance right? Sorry bitch. I ain’t outta the woods yet.
My dad was sick. After returning from a three month trip to the Philippines with Mom, Dad complained of itchiness and a different urine “color.” A large mass was discovered around his liver causing jaundice. Four weeks later, he died from Lymphoma at home.
Watching your father die is one thing, but watching him quickly turn from a smart-ass, funny BBQ man who travels regularly rapidly decline into this foreign 80lb body lying in bed, too exhausted to breathe–is just too…much.
I missed his final breath, but was there when he passed. That part was peaceful. His rapid decline was traumatizing. Much so, I will not be writing about it today.
I knew there’d be denial, anger, depression, bargaining, yada-yada. But what I was not anticipating was the severity of these emotions. I was not just angry. I WAS MUTHA’ FUCKIN’ ANGRY AND HATED EVERYONE–EVEN YOU–angry. I became volatile with my sister, raged at a dear cousin because of a drunk comment, causing a scene with family members sent to look for me (and my sanity), and abruptly yelled and threw my keys at my ex husband for driving me home safely because I was intoxicated. Classy. Really classy.
I began to justify my behaviors by telling myself, I am grieving. This isn’t myself. Have some self-compassion. Really though. My dad’s oldest daughter, my dad’s favorite nephew, and my dad’s son-in-law–they all lost Dad too. Shit. I AM the asshole. Hate it when that happens.
So, in addition to anger, let’s now add the lovely emotion, guilt, into the mix. I’m angry, then angry for being angry, then feel guilty for being angry, and oh! Do I smell depression in the horizon?Yes I do.
Angry and depressed, and now scared of lashing out to more undeserving people, I began to isolated myself. I’ve sat in my dark room, got high, binge watched the Walking Dead (season 9 does get better), and reread Pema Chodron’s When Things Fall Apart.
I saw my therapist who helped me discover the true source of my anger–the distorted family dynamics I’ve been avoiding my entire life is now something I must face. And regularly. In close proximity. The reality is, my sister and I are dreadfully estranged and now must work together. And can’t. This, again, is a post for another day. Trust me, it’ll be a LONG one!
Anyhoo, I’m slowly trying to understand my behaviors and check my emotions before they turn into, uh, not wise decisions. Is what’s happening the reality, or distorted by an emotion just coming outta your ass as convenient? My anger was not at my sister, or the drunk cousin comment, or anyone in the same room with me–it was me being pissed off that my dad was dead and now I got to deal with all y’all? Fuck me.
A’ight, after discovering my anger issue, of course I isolated myself. I mean, that’s all I gotta do, right? But my therapist mentioned something called “grace.” Woman. I went to Catholic school for 12 years. I am a Buddhist now and still don’t even say grace. But she is my therapist and going against her wishes has made me whimper “you were right,” so I gave “grace” some thought.
Apparently, grace is the opposite of throwing a fit and storming out. It’s letting go and moving on confidently. It’s bushing it off, instead of hanging on to a grudge that is only hurting you.
I get that, but I still have random daydreams of kicking my sister’s ass, so I have some work to do. Grace. I’m going to start with that.
Has anyone had any other experiences with grief to share? Graceful strategies? Thank you kindly.