Grief Like A River


For the past few weeks, I have become weary of this grief. It’s not that I want to deny or forget my husband. I am still talking to him and kissing his photo in the mornings. I still think of him many times throughout the day and remember his words and his mannerisms and the unique way he walked down the hill toward the car.  It is just that the weight of grieving is so exhausting and relentless that, sometimes, it feels good to turn toward something else. My grief has felt, lately, like I am trudging up a steep path with a sack full of rocks upon my back. These days, I am still trudging up the path. But I have wanted to set aside that bag of rocks for awhile.

Turning toward other things in my life has meant that I have spent less time reading grief blogs and articles on the internet. I have not focused on reading, writing and responding to posts in my Writing Your Grief alumni support group. I have spent less time thinking about and preparing posts for this blog.

I don’t know if this means that I am avoiding my grief. Perhaps that is the case. But perhaps it is healthy to set it aside, now and then. I know that the grieving will return. It will trickle into my consciousness at times and at other times it will flow like an angry river, overtaking me. I do not intend to block its flow through my life. The grief will always be there, in one form or another, waiting patiently for me to move into its current.

Yesterday was Father’s Day, and I thought about Stan and the father that he was, and remembered some of the stories his children told me. Stan became a father at 17 years of age. He married and had three more children, in quick succession, with the woman he described as his first love. They divorced when their youngest child, Gavin, was very small, but Stan did his best to provide for them, bringing them to his small flats for weekend visits, taking them on holidays in the countryside, sharing love and warmth and advice from that generous heart of his.

Later, when he was in his 40s, and his other children were almost grown, he and his second wife had two boys. They experienced a different father from the young, struggling Stan the older children knew. Their father was a Senior Manager in local government. He worked long hours under a great deal of stress, but he had the money to provide for them in a different way than he had been able to do with his older kids. They, too, have shared fond memories of him, how he came to visit them after they moved with their mother to Scotland, how he drove that long drive, several times a year, to see them, no matter the weather, how he taught them about music and politics and compassion and joy.

Last year, Father’s Day came only two weeks after Stan’s tragic death. I don’t think any of us even remember it. But this year, it must have been a very hard day for his children. Their father died so young. He was 63. One of them just graduated from University, recently, and his father was not there to see it. His grandchildren are growing up without him. There is a hole in all of their lives, now, that he once filled.

I grieve for my husband, as his widow, and I cannot understand, fully, what it is like for them to have lost their dad in the way that they did. But I do have an inkling of what means to lose a father who was so young. My father was 62 when he died, only a year younger than Stan, and I was 30 years of age, and pregnant, when he passed away, after an eighteen-month battle with lung cancer. He didn’t get to meet my son. I didn’t have him to lean on when I was sad or struggling with taking on the responsibilities of motherhood.  He didn’t get to see me get married, or graduate from University with a Master’s Degree.

 He died in 1987, almost 28 years ago, now.

He lived life unconventionally, and he reminded me, in many ways, of my Stan. He taught me about caring for others and he had a philosophical and spiritual perspective on the world that I carry with me, today. I still have a couple of letters he sent me, through the post (remember those?), when I was living in Mexico. I take them out and read them from time to time, these written expressions of the man that I cherished.

Yesterday, I grieved for them both. I grieved for Stan, my beloved husband, and for the father that he was to his children, and for the place he can no longer fill in their lives. I grieved for my own father, too.

So I know that this grief is not going anywhere, and perhaps it is alright for me to take a break from it. My sack of grief rocks is there for me to pick up again, when I am ready. It contains the remnants of all my losses, sweet memories of them all, and what they meant to me, the holes in my life that were once filled with their presence.

I know, now, that grief never truly leaves us. It is not something to get over or work through. It will always be with us, no matter how long our loved ones have been gone. It weaves itself into our hearts, and becomes a part of the textured fabric of our lives.

Today, I remember Stan, the father. I remember my father, too. Happy Father’s Day to them both, wherever they are.

Gone Too Soon.



Showing 4 reactions

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  • Jane White
    commented 2015-06-22 19:38:21 -0700
    Tricia – grief is truly exhausting and sometimes we need to set it aside, even for a brief time. Think about it – even during war there are cease-fires called. As you stated, it is always there waiting for us. Working thru my grief upon the loss of my husband has been my biggest life battle ever. I never thought it was possible to be this sad. Through the postings of you and the other wonderful bloggers I have come to realize I will never fill the empty hole in my heart but I will learn to recognize the ebb & flow of grief and find ways to manage it. Take care, Jane
  • DebraMarrs
    commented 2015-06-22 14:48:06 -0700
    I love seeing the picture of you with your dad, Tricia. I remember reading your stories about him, and know you treasure many instances such as this day (when photo was taken). It’s good to hear you’re setting the bag of rocks aside at times. Such an act is essential to self-care so you’re not worn down by the grief. The rocks lighten the load, even if for a day or two, and add lightness to your life—physical, mental, emotional, spiritual.

    I appreciate so much what you wrote about Stan’s children, and how Father’s Day reminds us of how the loss of our fathers leaves such a gap. I lost my dad a few weeks ago, suddenly. Even though he was 84, and age was not on his side, loss is still loss and unexpected.

    I called my stepmom on Father’s Day, thinking of her, but really wanting any kind of connection with my dad. We’ve talked a few times in the past few weeks since my dad’s transition, but yesterday was different. At times, we laughed, and shared tiny pokes about our relationship with my dad. She is still so sad, but shared she’s accepting Dad’s gone, and she’s still here, in the same house, the same town. And when the call ended, I wrote in my journal, “Thank you, Carolyn, for being a model for how I might live on as a widow one day, in gratitude.” Like Carolyn, you are on my roster of widows who lead the way, Tricia. I thank you with much gratitude for sharing your path.
  • Cathy
    commented 2015-06-22 13:07:36 -0700
    No matter what their age, they are gone too soon. 6th Father’s Day w/o my husband, 1st w/o my Dad, who died the end of this past May. I miss them both, every day. I hate holidays, everyone assumes you are doing something with someone, when in reality usually you are alone. Sometimes I’m ok with alone, sometimes I ache for what once was, the normal life of not knowing about grief and loss and figuring out what’s next.
  • Kelley Lynn
    commented 2015-06-22 10:18:27 -0700
    Great picture. I greived yesterday on behalf of my husband – for the kids he will never get to have, the dad he will never get to be, and the full life he will never get to live with me. It was hard. I totally get it. There are certain days I grieve more for HIM than for myself, and Fathers Day is one of them.