Today, I find myself at the start of the week that proved to be my Dad’s last. Only it’s six years since he passed away. Most of the time I’m okay: while I miss him every day, the time since we last met sits easier around the memory and the pain. But this week creeps up on me every year and floors me every time.
Grief is a tricky bastard.
We don’t talk about it generally: too embarrassed when loss is new and raw, too reticent to mention it as the years slowly pass. We definitely don’t talk about moments like this: when grief slips quietly between everyday things to rear up in your face. But it happens. And it’s devastating.
So this year I’m talking about it.
Loss isn’t a thing that ‘heals’ with time. It just fits between the rhythms of life as we carry on. When it chooses to make itself known, it snatches the carpet from beneath our feet, steals our breath, stabs our heart. It reminds us it exists – and when it does, nothing we do can push it away.
I used to worry about this week. As if it was proof I hadn’t fully processed losing Dad. I used to try to hide how I felt, pretend everything was fine. Because so many people I love who loved Dad seemed to be coping better. But that’s the lie grief tells you when it wants all your attention to itself. People who don’t know what to say to you about loss often say nothing at all – not out of spite or cruelty but because they don’t want to make you hurt. Grief takes their silence and holds it up to you as proof you should suffer alone.
This year, I’m not going to believe the lies grief tells me.
This year, I’m going to recognise this week as a necessary passage, a route I must pass and will pass again.
It’s okay to be sad, to ache with loss for someone you love. There is no shame in it. My love for my Dad didn’t die when he did. It lives on, like the memories that return when I least expect them – both joyful and barbed. To feel deeply is proof I loved Dad. It’s nothing to be ashamed of.
As I travel these seven days again, remembering everything he was and everything he meant, I’m talking the hand of my grief and walking with purpose and pride. Or maybe I’ll curl up gently around the pain on the days when the memory of my loss is too much to carry. I won’t pretend it doesn’t hurt. I won’t hide it, either.
If you are facing a week, or a day, or however long your own walk needs to be, know that you are not alone. You have the right to feel however you want to feel. Be kind to your heart and go well. Love and light will remain when grief slips back into the shadows again.