Grief is very hard to go through and yet it brings people together who haven’t seen each other in years. Even when there is someone there to console you, it breaks your heart and your soul aches.
We buried my first husband and the father of my children in March, 2014. We were divorced 35 years, but had remained friends. I have been flooded with memories of grief. I buried my 2nd husband in 2008 after 29 years of marriage, but it also brought back so many memories of my mother and father. I have found through having therapy sessions with clients, males are usually closer to their mothers and females are usually closer to their fathers. I remember a male client who had scheduled his first appointment with me, walking into my office, sitting down and saying, “What the hell was she thinking? I couldn’t protect her. I was only 4 years old.” He continued, “She said she stayed with him all those years for the sake of her children.” He then broke down, sobbing. His mom died three days earlier and he was finally saying everything he had wanted to say to her. After an hour of processing, he came to some inner peace and continued to come to therapy for several months.
The five stages of grief were identified by Dr. Elizabeth Kubler Ross years ago. They are: Denial, Bargaining, Anger, Depression and finally, Acceptance. Everyone does not always experience these stages in that exact order and some find that they go back and forth with some of them. I have found them to be very accurate.
When we lose a parent, we feel like we lose a part of our life. Our memories are still there, but we can’t re-live it with them by talking to them and watching each other’s expressions. For me, after marriage, my mom was my best friend. It took me a long time to grieve her loss because I felt like I had to be strong for my dad. So when my dad committed suicide, it was like a double whammy. My husband and I had moved in with my dad to take care of him and all of a sudden, two years later, I was parentless! My mother and dad both died in the late 80’s so time has lessened the pain, but they will always be remembered. Last summer I was at the beach with one of my sons and his family and when we got to the restaurant, he ordered 3 Pabst Blue Ribbons for the three adults in honor of my dad. We laughed and told funny stories about his Pawpaw and when my sister and I get together, we buy Orange Slice Candy and toast my mom as we eat it, because that was her favorite.
So, how do we console the grieving? With my children, all I can do is hold them and tell them I love them, listen if they want to talk and tell them happy stories about their dad…they already know he is still with them in spirit.
Toni True-Wills, Ph.D.