Time Marches On

Special thanks to guest author and Hello Grief Community member Kati Rice for sharing this story with us.

It was 11:30 pm on Sunday, October 31st, 2010. Since Dad had died in September, that night was the last time I could say “my dad died last month.” It was just one more way that life was taking me further and further away from him.

Did you notice when your loved one had just died, that right afterward, when you said, “my ____ died today” or “yesterday” or “last week” other people’s reactions were immediate? You could see the effect it had on them – it was all over their face; even their body position changed. It’s like their heart lurched in their chest and they had to grab for it, to keep it in its proper place. I know I do the same thing, even when it’s just some famous person that I never knew. But the more time passes, the less impact the news makes. As time goes on, more and more people expect you to get over it, move on. But what if you’re not ready?

Have you heard the saying “Time heals all wounds”? Well, I have been learning more about grief since my dad died in September (see how immediate that makes things sound?!) Some important sources have told me told that whoever said that is not quite right: time does not actually heal grief. Not automatically, anyway. It’s when we work at it, that we begin to heal. Someone told me, “When someone you love has died, it’s like being in the ocean. You have to face grief head-on, like you have to face a wave that’s coming toward you. If you try to turn away from it, the wave will just take you down.” I think that’s a great example, don’t you?

From what I’ve been learning by being here in this online community, it seems like Comfort Zone Camps are an amazing way to face the waves.  I’m definitely reading books about death and grief, talking with friends, praying, finding art that shows how I feel and keeping it close by, writing about both the past (my memories of my dad) and the present (my sadness), and listening to music. I’ve found great photos of me and my dad when I was a little girl; seeing how happy each of us looked to be with the other reminds me of how deep our love was. Being with the people who knew and loved my dad can be very soothing to my soul.

And also, taking breaks from thinking about my sadness helps too. Like this weekend, when I woke up on Saturday, I was having trouble “shifting gears”: I woke up thinking about my dad, started crying, and then no matter what I tried, I couldn’t really stop doing either (the thinking, or the crying). So my husband and I decided to take a 5 hour road trip, for no reason, really, other than to be in the car together, driving away from the town where dad died. It was wild: as we drove away, as I left the places that house all my memories of my dad, I left my sadness behind as well. I couldn’t believe how different I felt by the time I got back home! My spirit felt lighter. I will likely become the same kind of sad again, but boy was it surprising how just changing my location had helped.

It helped while I was gone, and doing different things, but it also helped when I got back. I liked the break, but I also liked coming home again. Being close to the places where my dad was before he died makes me feel close to him. And that doesn’t just feel sad, it feels good, too. It’s like by being in the water, facing the waves, I get to still be a part of him. That’s just as important to me as the chance to get away. Both are good.

And, last but not least, it is wonderful to be with others who understand. After all, no one who has lost a parent of their own would ever say, “Well, your dad died more than two months ago. Why are you still sad?” Because we all know what swimming in the ocean is all about….best not to tackle the waves alone, huh?  For me, being on the Hello Grief Community and connecting with others has helped me to face my own waves.

What are other ways you have found to work on your grief?

Photo Credit.

23 Comments:

  1. Sandi Elzinga said on December 3, 2010 at 7:20 pm ... #

    I remember marking time like you do, after my husband died. And it felt like he was getting further and further away. I would count the # of weeks since I had last seen him.
    Good Post. Realistic.
    Sandi

    GriefWalk:Hope Through The Dark Places
    http://sandielzinga.wordpress.com

  2. Kim Go said on December 4, 2010 at 6:47 am ... #

    Thank you for your elegant way of describing your process. I have been a firm believer that time does not heal wounds, as you do occasionally see bitter people who have only been weakened by grief. I DO think that LOVE heals wounds. The love of self, love from and for the departed, love from community. I hope you have increasing love to draw from in your days ahead…

  3. Alisha said on December 15, 2010 at 10:26 am ... #

    Kati, every time I read this, something new stands out to me. This time what touched my heart was “Being close to the places where my dad was before he died makes me feel close to him. And that doesn’t just feel sad, it feels good, too.” As I move into the holidays with my family, I noticed that I have been feeling the same thing. It’s nice to have places that make me feel close to Mom, especially when those places are filled with other people I love. Thanks so much for sharing this with all of us.

  4. Jenny said on January 11, 2011 at 11:25 am ... #

    Kati,
    Your writing really spoke to me today. It will be 5 months since Sam passed away tomorrow. He was my boyfriend and love of my life. I used to relive the sequence of events starting from the last phone call on Wednesday evening to the morning he passed away, Thursday. I still count the weeks. I remember when Sam first passed away the only way to describe the grief was in waves..some moments I was floating in disbelief and then a big one would knock me down and bring me into reality that Sam was gone. I am having one of those really bad times today, the waves have knocked me over. I am a regular on the Griefwalk website and thank goodness this blog was linked. I read your story and cried…it is what I feel in so many ways. So many people have moved on and I am still in a very sad place. I have moments of being ok, still function day to day (which is a blessing). I struggle the most on the days when reality strikes and I know Sam is gone and never coming back. I know grief takes time, but the journey is long and can be extremely tough. I am grateful for the websites that allow us to share our grief and realize we are not alone and all the feelings are normal. The pain is unbearable, but the love I shared with Sam is something I would have not missed for anything. Thank you for sharing your story.

  5. Michelle said on January 12, 2011 at 10:35 am ... #

    This article was breathtaking to read, Kati. I appreciated that you touched on how liberating it was for you to return home after getting some distance. I think in times of sadness, some people experience anxiety and the “fight or flight” response. Though your experience may not have been exactly this, offering your first hand account allows others to feel connected to your experience, let themselves off the hook, and grab some fresh air.

  6. kati said on January 13, 2011 at 12:33 am ... #

    It has been heartwarming to revisit this specific space at Hello Grief, and read the thought-filled comments here. Marking time….LOVE healing wounds….places filled with people we love….long journeys…fresh air….these are all such meaty concepts to ponder. Thank you, each of you, for adding your heart to the mix!

    To Jenny, if you happen back by here: I would LOVE for you to join the community of Hello Grief, if you haven’t already. (And if you have, can you request friendship with me — I couldn’t find you!) You are so right, grief is a long journey, and it would be a privilege to walk alongside you via shared blogs and emails. Your loss is uniquely painful, as I can only imagine you have lost so much of your future hopes and dreams, as well as your current love. I hope to be able to hear more of your life story in the future! Thanks so much for sharing here.

  7. Amanda said on January 20, 2011 at 5:41 pm ... #

    This story really touched me. Today marks three weeks since my dad passed away. I have never dealt with a close loved one passing, and feel cheated. No one ever prepared me for this. I have been trying to talk to my friends but I feel like such a downer all of the time. I have also been avoiding any alone time because when I have it, I just cry for hours. I am happy to have found this site, knowing that other people have the same issues and feelings is oddly comforting.

  8. Anonymous said on January 21, 2011 at 1:05 am ... #

    I can relate to this story very much so and it was nice reading it knowing there are so many others out there that feel the same way.. my dad died 10 years ago, and as it has gotten easier at times.. I agree completely that time does not heal all wounds.

  9. Jenny said on January 27, 2011 at 8:03 pm ... #

    Kati,
    I do stop by from time to time checking on new post and reading again the ones that give me comfort. I am signed up for emails and will be here for a long time to come. Grief came into my life August 12, 2011…so I have a long journey ahead of me. I do not want it to end soon, because my love for Sam was so great that our love deserves the time and dedication to learning to live with my loss. I have loss so many dreams and hopes for a future with Sam. I have so much to be grateful for such as finding the love of my life.
    To everyone that post on this site…I am too still cry all the time, miss Sam so much it is unbearable, I am still grieving even when so many others have gone on with their life and do not want to talk about grief anymore…so I am here to listen to others and walk with so many on a journey that we all share and will get through in our time.

  10. Greg Putnam said on February 17, 2011 at 10:55 am ... #

    12 hours later and I lost my dad, or at least that’s when my mom told me and little sister. That day sucked!

  11. Greg Putnam said on February 18, 2011 at 10:51 am ... #

    My dad died at 10 a.m November 1st, 2010. Mom told us that he died at noon.

  12. Greg Putnam said on February 22, 2011 at 11:47 am ... #

    I like that example about the ocean. My favorite example about grief is that it’s like having a hand in front of your face. When someone dies all you focus on is that person; the memories, the good time/ bad times, what you would like to say to them, etc. Some other ways how I deal with my dad, is just ot get it out. When I need to cry, I cry; when I need to scream, I scream etc. I also like to write and I’ve been writing a lot more. I’d write stories that have involve deaths, I’d write how I felt on a day, sometimes I’d just write. Also, do what you did, and try and get away from it all. That can be anything; taking a drive, speading time with friends, going for a walk, anything like that. These things really work and it’s healthy too!

  13. anna said on March 1, 2011 at 1:34 pm ... #

    wow! this is one of the most difficult time ot my life. my husband passed away in nov.26,10. i took care of him with the aid of hospic.i thought i was handeling it quite well.now i see myself crying all the time. the pain is sharp in my heart. and sometimes i can feel as i go any further. i will loose it. people do say time heals.time seems so slow now. i miss him so much!!
    it hurts like hell!! anyone have any advice?i am living here in our home where he passed. is it a good thing? thanks god bless all of you who can feel my pain ahna

  14. Jenny said on March 2, 2011 at 10:30 pm ... #

    Anna,
    I lost the love of my life on August 12, 2010. The pain is unbearable at times. I cry everyday and I know I will for the rest of my life. After almost 7 months, I have moved from living one breath at a time to almost a day at a time. I have found journaling is very helpful…write letters, just writing words on paper of how you feel, write stories..just write. Cry when you need to cry and don’t hold back, the more I hold back the more I cry later. Pray without ceasing for comfort, strength and God to hold you in his arms to make you safe. Talk to those that understand grief and will listen. Ignore those that tell you to move on or do not want to talk about your loss. Read all you can about grief..this website is awesome and there are others. I visit Griefwalk as well and it too has many wonderful words of comfort and advice. Grief is different for each individual and you have to accept you will go through this in your own time, your way and no way is right or wrong. It is not easy and it is a long journey. Check in on the websites and connect with those traveling this journey, we do not want to go alone!! I will check in on you from time to time. Post often and let others help. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

  15. taja said on April 7, 2011 at 10:29 pm ... #

    this was great! my dad died of cancer, it too helps me to be with people who knew my dad, they tell stories of times that i wasnt even born yet, but at the same time when im wiht these people i know he is missing, my dad died 6 years ago, 1 week exactly before christmas… im not sure if ill ever completely move on, i still dont like holidays, i keep busy, im glad i found this community, i can share my thoughts here, even some of my family doesnt understand completely how i feel, i was very very close to my dad, when he died i felt like a whole part of my life died too, he was also a minister, so i had that whole life change as well for me,,,,my whole life changed, i have struggled to move on and start a new life…somethings are going well, others im not getting , but im working on it

  16. Susanna said on May 25, 2011 at 3:03 pm ... #

    I lost my father on February 22, 2011. I am 29 years old. My dad was only 65. I keep thinking things are going to get easier but they only seem to be getting harder. Sometimes I wake up and I feel so defeated already, i think “oh god, not another day to face”. And then the feeling will pass after I make myself get out of bed and go to work as a social worker. But then, BAM! it hits me again. I find myself crying uncontrollably through out the day with out warning. I don’t feel like I have anyone to talk to and I’m afraid of bumming out my friends, family and boyfriend. This is the hardest thing I have ever faced. I’m overwhelmed. There are so many good things going on in my life but its hard to appreciate them. And then I feel so guilty. I don’t know what to do. I feel like I’m falling apart, sometimes I feel like I’m losing my mind. I wish this were all just a bad dream. I need my dad and I don’t think I can do this without him. I can’t keep feeling like this, I have to snap out of it. I can’t keep going like this.

  17. Candice said on November 21, 2011 at 1:57 am ... #

    My dad passed away on October 22, 2011…. 30 days ago and everyday I feel like I’m dying. I miss him so much and long for him so much it really really hurts. Everyone keeps saying that it will get easier. To me….. I feel as bad as the day he died. He wasn’t supposed to die. I need him and I want him back. My sister feels the same way. I don’t know what we can do to feel better. Out hearts are breaking more & more daily. I wish I could see him again.
    Reading so many stories… I didn’t realise that so many people feel the same way my sister and I do. My heart truly goes out to everyone who’s lost someone close.

  18. Melis M said on December 29, 2011 at 12:30 am ... #

    Hello all,
    This is my first time visiting this site and it has been quite comforting for me. I lost my boyfriend of 10 yrs and father to my two children August 2, 2008. The waves you speak about Kati, I still go through. I see most of you posted something up very recently after your loss. It seems hopeless for me to post that I have been going through the roller coaster of emotions after this amount of time…but I have. The bad truth is life will NEVER be the same…the good truth is that there is a way to still live. I one time heard it being called finding a “new normal”. You see our lives will never be the same or what we once felt was normal. But trying to find a new normal will help to alleviate the thought that there is a huge gap in your life and your days. Moving through the pain while still allowing the pain to be there when necessary was probably the best advice I received on my journey and I hope it can help with some of yours.

    God Bless you all

  19. lisa said on February 19, 2012 at 3:11 pm ... #

    Yes…I share many of the same feelings. My dad passed away last summer. Time hasn’t improved how I feel…..you still miss him and long to hear fatherly advice….not sure it gets better…you just carry them in your heart.

  20. Izabel said on February 20, 2012 at 12:27 am ... #

    The way I feel close to my baby well we kept his crib up and his last clothes he had on also the blanket he was wrapped in. I would take em out of a plastic bag and just smell em like I could smell him when he was wearing them.

  21. Colleen said on March 8, 2012 at 11:05 am ... #

    My dad dies almost a year and a half ago. It seems so strange to say that- seems so long ago, but at the same time it feels like it was yesterday. I relate to you when you say “Since Dad had died in September, that night was the last time I could say “my dad died last month.”
    I cant count how many times I said things like that, and still do. My father became ill and I pushed my wedding up so he could be a part of it- he loved to dance and eat, and I wanted him to be there not just so I had the memories, but so he would. I knew it would be the last time he saw all of his family, maybe the last time he would dance. He got too sick and went on hospice the day before my wedding. When I walked down the isle with my mother, I have never in my life felt so many emoitions. the day of your wedding is suppose to be the best day of your life- in a sense it was and in antoher sense it was the hardest day of my life. To put on a smile and dance while your dad is dieing. My husband is wonderful- the happy parts of my wedding, are all thanks to him. The next day while I was on a plane to my honey moon (I promised my dad I woulod go) he died. while I was in the clouds, he was on his way to heaven. The loss of my dad has effected me in so many ways, and here I am a year and a half later sitting at work trying to hide my swollen eyes. I need the day to come where I except this. The loss of a parent is so deep, and felt in so many ways. There has not been one day since then, that i have not thought of him at least a dozen times.

    I thank you for sharing your stories- it makes you feel you are not alone in this.

  22. RAJ said on July 24, 2012 at 2:08 pm ... #

    My mom died April 2010, we expected this after a battle with lung cancer. I remember as a kid her and my family doctor smoking in the examination room while the doctor was listening to my heart.
    It finally caught up to her. But 3 weeks to the day after my mom died we lost our father. A double whammy we didn’t see coming. He actually died of a broken heart if anyone thinks you can’t “throw in the towel and die”, I tell you I witnessed it with my own eyes. I saw my father will himself to death after 50 years of marrige & love he gave up. We tried so hard to snap him out of it, take him places. 3 weeks after my mom we went through it all over again. I am still numb two years later and wonder what we could have done different. did we care so much for my moms cancer we ignored his needs during that year. I miss them both so much. Some tell me it’s a blessing in disguise. I’m wondering if I’ll ever see it that way. Thanks for listening.

  23. Faisal Rehman said on March 24, 2013 at 3:39 pm ... #

    I lost my Uncle last august. He was more of a dad to me, as he had brought me up from a very young age. What ever I am today, is because of him. We struggled a lot, and now that the struggle finally began to pay off, he is no longer here to share the success. We use to spend much time together especially on holidays like saturday and sunday. Those days use to be the colourful happy days, but now I these are tge worst days of my life. I dont want to get up in the morning on saturday and sunday. I wake up, remember that my dad is no longer with me, I cry and cry and cry, get exhausted, and then go back to sleep. I sleep almost the whole day on these weekdays…The pain is just too much.. I still cant accept his death and just hope that, whenever I die, I may meet him again and share with him all the succssses and witness once again the pride that he feels upon hearing my successes…I just wish we could meet soon….!

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