Have you noticed that grief makes even the happiest memories hard? This is a picture of my Dad, Tim. He passed away on February 28, 2014. I have a million, billion happy memories of my father, maybe more.
Before I say more, let me acknowledge that while my dad was one of the good ones, yours maybe wasn’t. Surely that has its own kind of sadness. Maybe this is the point where our grief can intersect, because now I understand your loss in a new way. More than ever I can appreciate the value of what I had and what you deserved, but didn’t have.
I want so much to celebrate my Dad’s life, but the pain of grief turns my attempts at celebration into tears. Remembering his smile makes me happy, but then I remember I can see it only in pictures and the tears flow.
The thing is, the tears are not for him; these tears are for me. These tears are all about what I’ve lost. Like so much of my life, my grief is selfishly all about me.
Have you experienced this— how selfish grief is?
The weird thing is, even though it feels like my father’s death is ever present in my mind, sometimes I forget. I catch myself thinking–
Pop would love this soup.
Pop will think this is funny.
I should call him.
Then I realize I can’t share the soup with him, or tell him the story, or call him.
The shock of that realization sends an unpleasant jolt through my emotional system. It’s strong enough to generate a physical reaction. When it hits, my eyes clamp shut, my lips draw together, and sometimes a soft whimper even escapes.
If you see me like this in the grocery store, please … don’t stop.
In those moments, I’m not a loving mother, wife, or friend; I am a grieving daughter. As a grieving daughter, I have churned the same selfish question over again and again:
Now that my dad is gone, am I loved less?
Logically I know I’m not, but sometimes grief makes it hard to be sure in my heart.
Through the tears I’m beginning to see something beautiful. I’m beginning to see how my father gave me the courage to believe I’m lovable and so are you.
Please, please God, let me pass this lesson on to my own children.
Pop didn’t do this with a specific lesson or Bible verse.
He treated me like a person who deserved to be loved.
He treated me kindly and put up with my lack of kindness.
He chose to spend time with me, even when I’m sure I wasn’t any fun to be with (I was a know-it-all from a very early age, just ask my brother and sister).
Have you tried to do this for someone? It isn’t easy as it sounds, is it?
I know it’s okay to shed tears for what I’ve lost. Not even the heaviest tears can wash away my happy memories.
From my teenage years to motherhood, my Dad always listened without trying to minimize my problems or offer easy answers. When I called with a concern about my children, he would remind me of their best qualities. He would celebrate them and reassure me about their mother.
As I move through this grief, I’m beginning to realize my father left me with love to spare.
Since I’ve been left with love to spare, will you allow me to share some of it with you?
Maybe you, too, grieve the loss of a treasured loved one. Has grief corrupted your happy memories? Has pain stolen your ability to savor joyful remembrances? Send me an e-mail and tell me how you’re dealing with it all.