It’s been a week and a half since my Daddy died and grief doesn’t look at all like I expected. You know that phantom limb syndrome amputees get? It feels a lot like that. I keep thinking Daddy is just in the other room or back in the hospital temporarily. And then my stomach hits the floor and I’m gutted again when I remember he’s gone.
Since I don’t live near my family, I had to return to normal life where reminders of him are not constant. Getting on that plane the night after his memorial service and returning to work the next day felt so wrong. I felt like I was cheating Daddy and abandoning my memories of him. My seatmates on the plane, the people on the Blue Line train, the commuters on my way to work – they don’t know. How could they? But also, HOW COULD THEY?! My Daddy is gone.
I try to talk about Daddy a lot in casual conversations at work and in social settings but I can tell people are uncomfortable by how often I bring him up so they look at their shoes or change the subject. I’m sure it’s just that they don’t know what to say but it feels stifling. I want to talk about him! I want to remember all his funny quirks and eccentricities and hilarious things he said. It feels so unfair to keep those things to myself.
“Let me know if you need anything.” I’ve said it myself a hundred times. Someone’s hurting and you offer those words. As a griever, I’m not going to call or text you to say, “I cannot bring myself to cook or grocery shop or wash my dishes or clothes or vacuum my floor. Can you come do it for me?” Taking care of the daily mundane tasks feels overwhelming but asking someone else to do it for me seems even worse. I know those people mean well. I’ve been one of them and I meant it, too! But I think for friends in the future, I’ll just show up and do those things, instead of encouraging them to ask.
Grief feels so isolating. Especially when I’m far away from family and people who knew Daddy. Having lunch with a friend, re-telling old stories – those things help. They remind me that he isn’t forgotten. I haven’t abandoned his memory. The hurt, while still very raw, is somewhat comforting because it means that it was real. I’m sure it’ll get easier someday but that day is still very far away.