by Dr Marianne Trent, Author of The Grief Collective: Stories of Life, Loss & Learning to Heal.
Written in 2019
This evening at 6:20pm marks 2 years exactly since my lovely Dad passed away. 2 years. I can’t quite believe it: but I see it, in how grown up my children are becoming. My youngest was just 18 months old then and now he is a funny little talking, walking person who on the whole sleeps a whole heck lot better than he did then. My eldest is now in year 2 and can be wonderfully insightful about Grampy Norm.
The last couple of days has taken me back to a much earlier stage of my grief. A stage where freely coursing tears down my face was not unusual. The run up to Christmas this year has been naturally reminiscent of a highly stressed and emotional time in my life in 2017 visiting my Dad each day and knowing that with each visit he was slipping further away from us. Naively, at that time I thought that that acute stress and distress was going to be the worst part, or close to it. At the time I was very scared about what ‘the end’ would be like and fearful that I wouldn’t be there. In the end, we were there with him and I am thankful for that. In the end it was peaceful and with hindsight, over swiftly.
The bit I couldn’t have known was that the missing him and the yearning for him would be the worst part. The uncertainty and fear parts had passed but the grief had amplified and shifted everything around it. It’s affected every aspect of me. I had been discussing with a friend that looking at my photos pre-December 2017 felt like looking at a different person. The girl in those photos is strong, stable and able. She loves without fear and lives in the moment. A few weeks afterwards my friend was reading a book and sent me the photo of a page to the left. It was almost exactly what we had discussed. So it wasn’t just me!
This year has seen me launch my own private practice and undertake lots of fantastic training: it’s been enjoyable and productive and has energised me! The waves of grief have been most definitely further spaced and I have been more able to discuss Dad without being instantly de-railed. However, when I have connected to it entirely it’s still been intense and exquisitely painful. It’s not that my Dad was a saint or a perfect person. Far from it and he would have been the first to say ‘don’t worry about me!’ It’s just I miss his enthusiasm for life and for me too. I miss how pleased he always was to see me and to welcome me and to hear from me. Even if that welcoming of me was to call him in the middle of the night to ask for a lift home! He was always pleased to hear from me whatever the weather. If he was home he would open the front door for me when he saw my car arrive. If he was in his garage and the door was open then those passing knew that he too would welcome them to stop by for a chat: and chat they would!
Tonight, by the time 6:20pm rolls around I will likely be in pre-bed time madness with the boys. However, today has been a day to mindfully connect to Dad and to my feelings about him. My husband and I had the day off. It’s been relaxing and lovely. We’ve read books, I’ve had a bath, we’ve been out for lunch and I’ve even had a nap! My bath was an indulgent opportunity to pamper myself and towards the end I opened up a new coffee body scrub I’d been given by my secret Santa. Hedonism! Well, I can’t deny it, It was a fantastically effective body scrub. But I didn’t expect to come out of the bath much, much dirtier than I got into it. It was bizarre! I was entirely caked in brown streaks I was unable to remove. Initially I was a bit perplexed by it and then I started to giggle. Life, it seems is often about learning to laugh whilst coated in sh*t! It would have amused my Dad for sure!
To read more about real grief including more from Marianne and 53 other real people who have grieved check out The Grief Collective: Stories of Life, Loss & Learning to Heal by clicking here.