John Wayne and Mint Candy Can Rip Me in Two: A Personal Account of Disenfranchised Grief

A year ago I posted a private entry to my blog as I was struggling with something that was so raw I had no courage at all to share it. I have allowed myself to be vulnerable on this blog over the years but this one time I could not allow the world in. The thing about vulnerability and sharing our stories, the deep ones that are directly connected to our souls, is that in doing this we give up a little bit of our power. Sharing can be freeing, it can feel like you are letting something go, something heavy that needed to be released. So we may be giving up some of power by allowing others in but we also take away some of the power a painful memory has over us as well.

This is the only post I have ever set to private on this blog and that is because one year ago this pain was still too raw and too deep to share openly. As I reread this post recently and relived the anguish I felt while writing it as well as the grief I have experienced since losing this person I realized I am finally beginning to heal. That is not to say the grief does not still bubble up from time to time but it is not as raw and deep as it was even one year ago. When I wrote this post March 3rd of last year I closed it with an open letter to my Papa, I spoke directly to him from the heart and I think that made all the difference. I no longer blame myself for not being present when he passed, I no longer feel guilt or regret. I miss him and that is it and that is OK.

I have decided to share this post now because I am ready to release this memory of some of it’s power. I no longer feel burdened by the memories surrounding my Papa’s death and I am ready to let go of the burden and pain I felt when I initially posted this entry.

 

hospice quote

 

I stumbled upon this tonight and as I was reading it everything inside of me started to hurt. I know everyone experiences grief differently, it is usually something that catches me off guard. I will be fine for a while and then something simple brings me back to a moment and I am shattered all over again. Life does go on after loss and the pain subsides only bubbling up occasionally but when it does it is sharp, a true physical hurt.

As good as I am at sharing my feelings and communicating I shut down when these particular feelings surface. A piece of me feels like I won’t be understood. I feel like because it was my grandfather I am not supposed to grieve for this long. Grandparents are older, they pass and although it is sad it is as if because they were older it should somehow be less sad, some how it is less painful, and for a shorter period of time. My insides don’t see it that way though. All I know is that 4 years ago I lost one of the most important men in my life and it hasn’t stopped hurting yet. His age when he died does not make it hurt any less. I still feel angry, I still feel crushed by the weight of my sadness at times and the depth of my pain when it surfaces embarrasses me a little. I just don’t want this loss that was, for me, so significant to be trivialized by someone else because they don’t understand why years later I still grieve for him from time to time.

I think the reason it is so hard for me to push through it is because I have some regret. I have tried to work through it in grief counseling but I just have not been able to forgive myself for not being there. The rational side of me knows I did nothing wrong and if he were alive and aware of the burden I have put on myself with these feelings he would tell me there is nothing to forgive and to let go but I just have not been able to. I still feel so angry with myself and nothing I have been able to do up to this point fills this hole for me.

 

Papa,

Sometimes I forget that you’re gone. It is a deliberate forgetfulness, more of a denial at times to be honest. I just haven’t completely figured out yet how to live in a world that you are not apart of. Losing you made me realize that it doesn’t matter how much you love or are grateful for anything, you don’t get to keep it. It’s hard for me to put a positive spin on that and it terrifies me. It’s all incredibly unfair and I feel like a child saying that out loud but it is true and it is how I feel and it infuriates me. I haven’t stopped loving you just because you are no longer here so I what am I supposed to do with that? I want to sit next to you and I want you to pat my knee while I rest my head on your shoulder. I want you to tell me your stories, I know them all by heart but I miss your voice. I’m sorry I wasn’t there, I know you would forgive me but you are not here to do that and I have not been able to forgive myself. It scares me and breaks my heart to think that you may have been scared. That is my biggest fear and I know that now it makes no difference because you went peacefully but I just hate to think that you knew what was going on and you were scared. I thought I saw that in your eyes and it just killed me, I have had trouble moving on from that worry. I hope you felt comforted. I just wish I had been there, I’m sorry and I love you and I will try to let go of my regret because I know you wouldn’t like me feeling this way, I just haven’t figured out how yet.

I see so much of you in the person I have become and am still becoming. I love people the way you did, conversations with strangers, helping people, all of it. I wish you could have met Todd, he would have loved you and you would have loved him. He is so gentle and dutiful, I think you would have liked that about him. He is intelligent and fair-minded and I see him and Daddy having a relationship like you and Daddy did. That is something I have always wanted in a man and it makes me so happy. I know he has accepted my family as his own and will help me take care of them as they get older. I really miss you, words are not big enough to explain how much. I love you Papa. I miss you.

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