All That You Can’t Leave Behind

26Nov19

Today is the five year anniversary of my father’s death and I’ve been wondering for a few weeks what I might say about it.  I’ve been curious how I would feel about it, and honestly, not much is coming up.  It feels like an important date to pause and offer a quiet prayer of thanksgiving for his life and for everything I learned through his death.

Decade Challenge

#DecadeChallenge fail

I’m conscious, however, of how many people in my life are currently experiencing grief from the loss of a parent, a loved one, or a sudden turn of health.  Losing my parents at a relatively young age made me a kind of pioneer in this rugged terrain of grief.  “Welcome to the Dead Parents Club,” my now-dead cousin Susan said to me way back in 2007 after we said goodbye to my mom.

In my previous blog post, I wrote about things I wish I could have told my 28-year-old self back when all the dying started.  In this post, I’d just like to briefly address three points about grief in the hopes that those who are currently experiencing it can find some perspective and comfort.

1) New grief may bring up old grief.

Sometimes it seems like grief has gone away when it’s really just hiding in the shadows waiting to surprise you.  Has a song at church made you burst into tears without warning?  Did your reaction to hearing someone else’s bad news hit you harder than you thought was appropriate?  Do you dread the holidays because smells and traditions hurt too much?  That’s all normal.  Any loss we encounter can trigger memories of other losses, which really hurts sometimes.  Sometimes it’s embarassing, like the time I sobbed for two hours after an episode of Battlestar Galactica, which brings up my second point, which is…

2)  Disenfranchised grief is real grief.

Have you ever felt like you’re not entitled to really mourn a loss?  Is it something you think other people will judge you for?  Have you ever lost a pet and heard someone say “why don’t you just get another one?”  Or has anyone said, “Please stop crying; it’s very difficult to hear what’s happening on Battlestar Galactica?”  It really hurts when people don’t understand our grief or take it seriously.  Disenfranchised grief is a grief you may not feel comfortable openly acknowledging either because people in your community don’t understand, or worse — because they don’t approve.  When it comes up, notice it.  Name it.  Then find the right community to talk with about it.  You’re always entitled to feel your emotions.

3)  There’s nothing wrong with a new normal.

It’s been 12 and 5 years since my mom and dad died respectively.  My life now couldn’t be more different from what it was like then.  My relationships are different and my traditions are different; even some of my values are different.  It was hard to let go of a lot of that, but here we are in a new normal where I feel happy, grounded, and loved.  There’s no easy guide to finding a new normal; unfortunately, it just has to come.  But hopefully, by listening to your feelings, naming them, and talking about them, you’ll come to see what you want to bring with you and what you want to leave behind.  Your loved-ones wouldn’t want you to stay stuck in a moment.



One Response to “All That You Can’t Leave Behind”

  1. Reblogged this on Christine Marie Eberle and commented:
    On this fifth anniversary of my dad’s death, I’ll let my brother’s words speak for me. Sending love to all those who mourn . . .


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Christine Marie Eberle

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