I often tell people to write or journal about their life as a way of processing how they are feeling and what they are thinking. So, here’s to taking my own prescription. 

Today is my Daddy’s birthday. He died 1yr, 4mos, 2days ago. I adored my father and was a “Daddy’s Girl.” A title that I own with pride to this day. I want to write about grief as it relates to him.

Kubler-Ross is the leading model of grief conceptualization and discusses grief as a stage model. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. I have never been sold on it as a stage model in which each stage must be preceded by the one before and fully processed before moving to the next. I have conceptualized it differently through my education, practice, and life experiences; especially, now that someone so close and significant has left the living. I AM SURE IT’S NOT A STAGE SPECIFIC MODEL but rather a model of processing loss.

So, here’s where I am. I shift between anger and acceptance and, sometimes, sadness; but no longer depression (at least at this time).

Here’s what I accept: after years of distance and disconnect following my parents’ divorce, God gave me 12 years with my Dad back in my life. The last 5 years of his life he lived down the street and that was exactly where he was supposed to be when his life ended. I ACCEPT my father’s apology for the years of distance and acknowledge all he did to heal our relationship. He became “My PERSON.” I ACCEPT that he died “like a man…pissing standing up.” (his words, not mine…but apropos). I ACCEPT he went his way and for anyone that knew him knows he wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. I ACCEPT that he is gone from life and I ACCEPT the moments he’s let me know he’s still with me.

I’m ANGRY he gone. What I accept is very painful and makes me angry, not with God or my Dad, but just angry that life must end, especially when it’s getting so good. I’m ANGRY my daughter doesn’t have any memories with him. She’ll never experience with her Papaw what I did with my grandfather, that moment when you realize you share something amazing and unique and endearing with your grandparent. I am ANGRY my son won’t learn to golf, camp, hunt, and use the bow and arrow from his Papaw. My son changed my father’s world and helped him live again.

As I write, I’m sad and yet I’m smiling. By recognizing and acknowledging my anger, I’m beginning to be filled with joy. My Dad held on long enough to watch our daughter for a full month…just the two of them. My Dad was present when both of my babies came into this world. My son still hears my Dad’s voice saying “Yay SJ!” on their first fishing trip out on the boat. My husband and my Dad were such close friends. My husband is like my father in some ways and I never would have known that if they had not been so close. My father knew he could count on me. My father confided in me. My father was proud of me. My father loved me!

Those who know me know I’m probably crying, but I’m also accepting and, right at this moment, I’m not angry or sad. I’m grateful. Grateful because God gave me my Daddy, he helped him become my Person, and he let me be with him as he left our earth and became my Angel. Happy birthday today to my father in heaven.

I ACCEPT you are no longer on this earth. I acknowledge my ANGER for moments we’ll never have. I feel sad that I can’t kiss your cheek or hear you say my name again, except in my dreams.

And, I am BLESSED you ARE my Daddy.

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