I don’t know

My father died yesterday morning.

I feel like a human ellipsis.

That is me right now.

I don’t know how to process what is happening, but I think my body is protecting itself. It’s quite good at that when I let it happen. I am a very empathetic person and I have to be careful to be supportive while not allowing other people’s emotions overtake me.

Yesterday was for everyone, for my mother. Today is for me, and my small wins are wins nonetheless. I changed my car’s headlamps yesterday afternoon by myself. I’ll be knitting and crocheting down my stash and reading through my Fullmetal Alchemist manga volumes. A weighted blanket might be in order. Walks by myself, just exploring, are coming.

I just keep repeating the phrase “I don’t know.”

  • I don’t know what happens next.
  • I don’t know how I’m supposed to feel; there is no right or wrong emotion right now.
  • I don’t know how to navigate this during a pandemic, but I’m sure that the funeral home and church will help us with that.
  • I don’t know how my mother will take me making my own space to grieve when it might mean that I’m not always there for her, but I can’t think about that right now.
  • I don’t know when I’ll be “over it”; that day might never come. I have been told, however, that it gets less painful with time.
  • I don’t know how to accept help, always more ready to give than receive it, but I’m learning.

I feel like my brothers and I have been inducted into one of the shittiest clubs, with membership dues that are way too high for any person to tolerate and a scratchy ass jacket that will never fit quite right. That’s the best way I can describe it and I feel oddly proud that I haven’t lost my ability to put into words some of what I’m feeling. A number of people who are unfortunately also in this club have described it in the same way, almost down to the word.

I cried, and then I didn’t. It comes and goes, mostly when I realize that I have friends who are family at this point. Real, down-to-clown folks who stop by with food because my mom isn’t eating a whole lot right now and I can even less imagine her cooking anything. People who send “just checking on you” texts that take me out of my head at just the right moments. People who start Instagram video chats to see my face and connect with me by saying nothing but, “Jen…” and don’t have to say anything else.

The times I’ve cried the most after I left my mom’s house was when I thought about the people who reached out. It shows me that I’m a decent friend. I’ve struggled with feeling like I was supportive enough/worthy enough/appreciative enough to have people in my life that I can call friends. To have them be willing, able, and ready to just listen (everything else is just gravy) means so much more to me than they’ll ever know.
I also have to remind myself that friendship is not reciprocal with things. Healthy relationships should have two parties giving mutual attention & time to make them work, but they don’t have a tit-for-that, give/take a penny transaction nature.

I can’t tolerate the radio right now. Very little news is being watched, and I’m usually ready to stay informed about things.
Crochet is so unbelievably soothing right now in a way that knitting is not. I’m not sure if it’s because I learned crochet first (although, I turned out to primarily be a right-handed “thrower” in knitting), but making squares and motifs are where I am in my crafts, at least for today.

“At least for today” is a way of doing things now. There is a clear line of demarcation in time, a before/after from now on. I can never un-know how this feels and a dear friend mentioned that I might also be grieving that as well, the fact that I can’t go back. Moving forward is all I know to do, no matter the situation or what is going on.
There’s no good in ruminating on what shoulda/coulda/woulda happened if he were still here because he’s not, and it’s not going to bring him back. I felt like an asshole for being so blunt, but it’s how I feel. I have to give myself the room to feel with no judgment, or to not feel. There is no right or wrong in grief.

The sentiment of being kind to others because you don’t know what they’re going through hits you differently when you’re on the other side of it all. Please be kind. It might be your turn one day to be on the other side.

11 comments

  1. I am so very sorry for your loss, it’s tremendous. Please remember to do as you hinted and make room for you and your needs. 💝💔💝 You don’t know me, but I care and am sending prayers for you and your family. One day, the I don’t know will change. Until then, one minute, one feeling, one decision at a time. 💝💔💝

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Jen,
    We don’t know eachother, but what you just shared makes me feel connected. I lost my brother in June when he ended his own life. I didnt know what to do for many days. (I still don’t…) I also don’t know how to grieve with my family and not create more grief, if that makes sense. I loved him and wish I had the opportunity to tell him so many things. The regret is deep.
    I guess I just want you to know that you aren’t alone in your feelings. And I’m not sure I can say I feel better 6 weeks after his death, but I feel less like I’m drowning. The sadness comes very often in overwhelming waves and acute pangs, but it is less constant compared to the blurr of the first two weeks.
    It has helped me to read memoirs of grief and loss. It also helped to speak with a grief counselor a couple times.
    I’m thinking of you. Do what feels right for you and take it minute by minute when you need to.
    Hugs to you from an Instagram follower in Michigan.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve read this comment a few times and I still don’t know what to say. I feel connected reading this and how you explain the timeline, the blur, the waves of it all.
      Thank you so very much from my heart. I hope that we both continue to find some solace and settle where we fit.

      Like

  3. I’m so sorry to hear this – my condolences to you and your family. My Mum died a number of years ago, and my Dad just last year. I found that the loss never goes away but time made it easier to live with and made it easier to remember the good things rather than the loss. But you’re absolutely right that it demarcates life into a before and an after, and the after always seems a more grown-up and less sheltered place. Be kind to yourself while you go through this, and I’m sure that your Dad would have wanted you to try to enjoy life even while you’re grieving and you miss him. x

    Liked by 1 person

    • YES. Even a day after, I feel like I’ve grown into a role that I’m not prepared for right now, but have to learn as I go. One moment at a time is all I have and that’ll do.

      Like

  4. I’m sending you lots of healing energy. Losses like this are hard to quantify. Each of us deals in our own way. You do what you need for you and never be afraid to ask for help.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I lost my father two years ago. Even though I knew it was going to happen, it was still a shock. I let myself cry, as you write that you are doing as well. There is a reason God gave you tears. It is a release for all those feeling you have. Everyone grieves in their own way on their own timeline. The stages of grief are not linear. I know I always have my Dad in my heart and that is comforting to me. It does take time like people say, but right now this is new to you. You have so many good friends surrounding you, and that is the best support you can have. I am so sorry for your loss.

    Liked by 1 person

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