I was 23 years old when I found out my father had cancer. He had been given 3 – 6 months to live. This was going to be my first experience with death, I was devastated. I hadn’t been particularly close with him because he lived in Maine and I had moved from there many years before to another state. We kept in touch by telephone and Holiday visits. So, when I heard this news, I felt this overwhelming need to see him and try to find any cure possible. Unfortunately, I could not leave my responsibilities at home. I selfishly wanted to add time so that we could really get to know one another. I had 2 sons at the time and I wanted them to know their grandfather too. How could I have let so much time pass? How could I have taken him for granted? Was I being punished? Funny how we can think the loss of someone close is a punishment.
I had just given birth to my second son who was 6 weeks old so, I wasn’t able to be by my father’s side for doctor’s appointments or to attend to any needs he might have. Thankfully, my brother lived near him and he and his wife were there. I had so many emotions. Shame for all the years lost and now not being able to be there by his side. Helplessness took over and then anger that he was leaving us. Anger at myself for not getting to know him better over the past years. Guilt because I was not there for him in the past or the present. Sadness that hung on me like a heavy blanket that I dragged around for nearly a year.
I was, however, able to visit him when my son was 3 months old. Little did I know, he would leave us one week later.
My loss blossomed like a tornado that was trapped inside. I had no coping skills, and few supports because I had moved recently to a new town. I was taking care of 2 boys and just getting through each day felt like a marathon. My husband worked long hours, so I felt alone and isolated.
Eventually, over time I started to bury all the feelings deep inside. I put on a happy face and smiled when I felt like crying. My children were my light. My memories would be triggered by a song or a picture and true sadness enveloped me.
Over time, I pushed the pain aside and had acceptance, but I never truly felt at peace with the loss…
It was not until many years later, that I would review my relationship with my father, by using the Grief Recovery Method. I was so excited by the results. I wanted to share it with all who suffered from loss.