|Back in the day: Espen, my dad and my mum.|
I said several months ago that I was going to write more about how I've been dealing with my dad dying, and although I have made several attempts, I've never completed anything sharable. There are a few reasons for this: 1) There's no way around it: death and how it makes you feel is depressing, and I've always wanted Project Project to be a positive little spot on the web. Most of the things I feel and want to say are pretty bleak, and I don't want to send you all running for the hills with my moroseness. Which brings me to point 2): I really need to write these things, and I really need someone to read them. Someone like you. But putting these things out there could make me look like I'm in kind of a dark place, and that makes people worried and uncomfortable, which makes me worried and uncomfortable. And so very vulnerable. It's a feeling they call "hudløs" in Norwegian, which means "without skin". And no one wants to show themselves to the world without skin.
However, I know from experience that writing down some of these things helps me, even if it's hard. Moreover, I feel like writing this post, or more to the point, not writing this post has been blocking me from all of the other things I want to write about and tell you. So let's just do this quick and dirty, ok? Let's do some bullet points:
- This still really sucks. It continues to hurt. Knowing that my dad will be missing from the rest of my life and my children's lives is genuinely awful. It's not always so much that he isn't here right now, it's knowing everything that he won't be a part of in the future. Gwen won't remember him, and any children we might have in the future will never have known him at all. That hurts my heart.
- I feel like I have lost part of myself. An innocent, childlike part of me has been lost. Seeing someone you love so much go through that kind of suffering in the very last stages of life, and then dealing with the realities of their death changes you. I am changed forever. It's not necessarily a good or a bad change, it's just one that we inevitably all have to go through, and once we're there, I don't think there is a way back. I can't unsee or unfeel what happened.
- I feel like my heart got a little heavier when my dad passed away, and what I am doing right now is learning to live with that weight in my heart. I don't notice it all the time, but I will always carry it with me nonetheless.
- I love it so much when people talk about my dad! It makes him feel real and alive again. I've noticed that people (out of kindness and concern) try to avoid talking about him, but that makes me feel (unfairly, I think) that they've forgotten him and have moved on from his passing. I just want people to talk about my daddy like he was a real person, and like he still matters.
- I had a dream recently where he was alive and healthy and walking along the seafront with my mum and Espen. Even in my dream I knew that he was dead, but I found so much comfort in just seeing and remembering what he was like.
- When people say "I'm sorry for your loss" what they're really saying is "I'm sorry for the moment when you'll be standing in a store with the perfect Christmas present for your dad in your hand, only to realize that he won't be needing a gift". They're saying "I'm sorry for the day when you'll want to call your mum to talk, only to remember that she's out of town, and you then think "Oh, I'll just call and talk to my dad for a bit." And then you remember why you can't." These little moments happen every once in a while and they feel like, on a very small scale, like losing my dad all over again.
- Grieving takes such a long time. I was reading an interview with someone recently where they talked about losing their dad, and how it took three years for things to feel normal again. At first three years seemed like such a long time, but then I felt so relieved that I don't have to be done yet. It's OK for me to continue to feel this way, even if it must feel like such a long time for others.
- Finally, it gets better. It gets a little easier every day. I've all but stopped making a note of the 27th of each month as a marker for how many months have passed. Telling people that my dad passed away is becoming normal, and I don't break down and cry every time I talk about it anymore. I've found some ways to keep my dad part of our every day in ways that feel natural and good. I'm getting through some of the guilt I've felt at the "what ifs". Life goes on, and I have so much to enjoy and be grateful for.
OK, that actually feels better. Thank you for reading. Thank you for caring. I'll be back with Gwen's birthday party before too long. Onwards and upwards.