Sunday, 13 April 2014

Lost Opportunities

This post runs a heavy risk of stating the obvious. Occasionally it's not too wrong to do just that.

A question that has been bothering me since the passing away of my father is the question of grief. As in, what is it, exactly, that makes me feel in that particular bad way I am now feeling? Because it is certainly noticeable that I am feeling something; it does not take much to detect behavioural changes taking place upon me since receiving the news of my father's "just a question of time" state.
Having thought about it, I got to the conclusion that my grief is the result of missed opportunities. Never again will I be able to do something with my father, tell him about something that happened to me, or hear him telling me something. That's it; this death arrangement is very permanent. It is the only thing that lasts forever.
It's not just not being able to do things in the future that causes grief. The worst part of the grief is to do with all the things I could have done in the past but dismissed, through one reason or another. There is plenty of that, especially given my migration across the world: by leaving Israel in favour of Australia I severely reduced any opportunities for mutual activities. But even before that, I can recall being too busy with work or having better things to do with my time than spend time with my father. I am not the only one at fault here: my father had his things, the things he liked to do, and spending time with one of his children was not always at the top of his priority list.
There is no end to missed opportunities. I can wax lyrical about not being able to do this or that with my father or complain at my parents not taking up on the communication opportunities presented by the Internet as much as I can physically can. However, it feels a lot like complaining at not winning the lottery: those numbers that won yesterday's draw were simple numbers, the bastards, so why couldn't I figure them out on time?
I guess grief is one of those things only time can heal. Probably never in full.

Image by Tim Hamilton, Creative Commons licence

1 comment:

Sarah said...

My experience with losing a parent has been it is like holding a big mirror up to yourself and it gives you a chance to reflect on how that relationship has impacted on who you are and who you want to be.

The loss of my Mum rocked my whole world as she was my home, my safe space to return to and I knew no matter how bad things got everything would be ok with her to support me. Then she was gone and it was scary realising I had to be the grown up now and I had to develop the confidence that I could deal with things on my own. I discovered I was a lot stronger and more capable than I thought.

My husband has been coming to terms with his father's style of parenting and that it really didn't provide his children with what they really needed to prepare them for the world and their life. While that is a disappointing conclusion to arrive at, it has provided him with the opportunity to reflect on his own parenting and what he wants to do differently moving forward.

While you can't go back and change things now maybe this time provides an opportunity for reflection on all the things good and bad you valued in your relationship with your Dad and that legacy can inform how you do things maybe differently in your family. The quality time vs. the quantity time. The work life vs. home life balance etc. A time like this can bring into sharp focus what really matters which usually gets overshadowed by the hum drum of every day life.

As for the healing part I had to adjust my view of what healing meant. Originally I thought it meant if I gave it enough time ("time heals..") I would go back to being the way I was before. However just like the skin while it recovers from trauma there is a often a scar left behind and it is just not the same as it was before. Not necessarily in a bad way but just different.

For me it meant finding a "new normal" for my life as things would never be the same without my Mum so the "old normal" was not going to be the benchmark for recovery. As time goes on the rawness of the emotions lessens and you develop new routines,traditions,and relationships. That doesn't mean you still don't wish your loved one was still with you so you could share all of these aspects of your life with them but you develop the new normal so you can cope with their absence a bit better.

As I said last time everyone experiences grief differently so maybe nothing I have written above resonates with you but I guess I just want to let you know it is a difficult, strange, distressing experience to go through but you are not alone.