It was a Tuesday.
As usual, past 6:00 pm, I had to call him to fetch me at work.
“He’s playing basketball,” Mama said. I have to go home on my own.
Thirty minutes later, my phone rang.
“Go to the hospital, Papa was rushed.”
My heart stopped for a moment, my knees trembled.
I knew it was the day.
It’s been two years now but it still seems like yesterday. There’s a certain kind of missing someone I can probably never get rid myself off. It’s this.
The pain from the loss is immeasurable. Maybe because there’s one more thing we would have wanted to say. Sure, is. I guess it wouldn’t go away completely but I know it shouldn’t take center stage. Aside from taking it one day at a time, let me share with you some of the steps we can take in dealing with the grief of losing a loved one.
Call a friend, that’s a lifeline.
Surround yourself with people, not to deny reality, but to face reality with a hand to hold. My spiritual family has been my strong anchor, preventing me from drifting away during that storm. Do not grieve alone.
“Don’t hurry the grief,”
A friend reminded me. Because I had to be strong for my mother, two younger brothers, and eight-year-old niece who is very close to my late father, I refused to cry in front of them. It was not easy. I had to hold myself in the collar. I had to remain calm to be able to help decide for everybody. Whether we like it or not, we had to deal with issues other than emotions – funeral arrangements, finances, accommodating relatives you haven’t seen for a lifetime. But I did find time to be alone and meditate. The best way is always through, no shortcuts.
It’s okay not to cry (all the time).
I remember crying really hard when I was in the emergency room holding his hand asking God to please give me a miracle. I cried so hard I almost passed out. But after that, when I saw my brothers weeping and my mother trying to wake my father up as if he is just sleeping, I knew I had to stop so I can hold them. Since then I needed a strong stimulus to provoke my tear ducts to shed. But that doesn’t mean I am not in pain. God knows how I am still hurting even if I don’t cry over memories. The absence of tears is not the absence of pain. I still allow myself to feel the emotions: guilt, blame, resentment, grief.
Take care of yourself.
When grieving, it’s more important than ever to take care of yourself. The stress of a major loss can quickly deplete your energy and emotional reserves. Looking after your physical and emotional needs will help you get through this difficult time. This includes getting enough sleep (try), eating well on time (try), and getting a good laugh (try).
Two years have gone by and we are getting by just fine. There were episodes of wishful thinking, of reminiscing that one last day, of feeling the loss all over again but I take comfort in the thought that my God is in control. He gives and takes away but He is still worthy to be praised. In the words of Ravi Zacharias:
“If you only look at your circumstances, you’ll always be focusing on the wrong thing. Whether in defeat or victory, focus on His Holy Presence… Celebrate the victories and mourn some of the losses but look beyond them to Him.”