As a result of what my family has been through since my dad was diagnosed with the brain cancer that took his life only 10 weeks later, I’ve learned that in the face of tragedy people will surprise you.
I’ve been surprised by some of the things not done or not said by certain people while my dad was sick and while my family has been grieving, but I’ve also been surprised by things that were done and said by others. It’s been the latter that has kept the former from causing even more pain and grief.
As a result of some of these relationships, many of which have changed as much as I have over the past months, I struggle with the question of whether the actions or lack thereof of others are due to ignorance (not knowing what to say or do), insensitivity (not realizing how badly their support was needed), or indifference (not giving a hoot, or at least being more interested in other things like having fun than in supporting me or my family), and I also struggle with the question of whether or not it even matters what the cause of lack of support from these people is.
Sometimes a bridge has been burned so badly that it is beyond repair, and what’s really surprising about that is that in some cases I don’t even have it in me anymore to care that I can’t cross the River.
After a few months, it seemed like almost everyone I know assumed that my time for grieving had expired and that I was back to living a normal life, “healed” from my grief. They didn’t see my tears as I lay my head on my pillow at night or hear my one-sided conversations with Dad as I drove to and from work each day. How could I ever go back to “normal”? I don’t even know what that is anymore.
As a result of what happened to my dad, I’ve seen up close that bad things can happen to anyone at any time. As a result of this blanket of grief, I have hurt physically and emotionally worse than if someone had stabbed or burned me. I want something that I cannot get back, ever. I have witnessed something tragic happening to one of the best people I know, and all I could do was stand by while it happened.
I’ve learned to speak the language of Tears. I’ve learned that Shock is a shelter but that it’s not one I want to stand under for too long; it keeps me from feeling my dad’s spirit and makes me do crazy things that don’t help me or anyone else.
In much the same way it is a surprise to find your car with a flat tire, it has surprised me that some people with whom I’ve discussed so many things in the past have yet to say much or even anything at all to me about my dad’s death or how I have changed because of it. I’m constantly surprised by the lack of support from some of these people – and shocked by the lack of acknowledgement.
As a result of what I’ve observed, I’ve learned that no matter how badly your heart is broken, the world doesn’t stop for grief.
I’ve learned that our background and circumstances may have influenced who we are, but we are responsible for who we become.
I’ve realized that I need to figure out how to watch the film from a few rows back so that I can see the whole screen before me.
I’ve learned that grief is a journey, not a destination, and that the only way to get through it is to focus on what’s in the headlights on the road directly ahead.
Our thanks to Stephanie Lancaster for sharing her story with us.