I lost my dad recently. I watched him bravely battle cancer for almost a year. I watched him do rounds of chemo and I sat in the waiting room while he did radiation. I celebrated the victories. I cried during the challenges. But, I was always hopeful. No matter how hard it got, I expected him to conquer it. He was supposed to get better.
It didn’t go the way I had planned. I watched him take his final breaths. As I left the hospital that day I was in shock. My dad didn’t just die. No. This was a dream, a very bad, surreal dream. In a few hours, he was going to call me, give his mischievous laugh and say, “I got you, kiddo. I am all better. Let’s meet up for lunch.”
I kept waiting for his phone call. But he never called… he never called.
You have asked what I need and how you can help. Truth is, I do not know. Most of the time, I don’t know what I need or how I am feeling. I don’t know how I will respond. I don’t know a lot of things. But I do know that I need you here. I need your presence. I am scared of facing the firsts. I am scared of forgetting the sound of his voice, the warmth of his hug. I am afraid of living without him.
Be patient with me. I may be fine one moment and sad or angry the next. I do not know how to handle the rollercoaster of emotions. Sometimes I feel like I am healing. Like I can be hopeful and happy again. Someone once told me that losing someone is like being hit by a bus. You are left feeling disoriented and broken. That is true, but its like getting hit by a bus over and over again. Just when I feel like I am starting to adjust to my new normal… BAM! I am flat on my back, unable to move.
Walk with me. I know that you do not know what to say or what to do. I know you want to take away the pain and you want to heal the hurt. I know that it is uncomfortable not being able to make it “okay” again. I don’t need you to say or do anything. Just show up. Let me cry on your shoulder or share a memory of him with you.
Let me talk about him. It might be tempting to change the subject, but please if I bring him up, let me talk about him. Let me share with you a memory. My biggest fear is forgetting. I don’t want to forget his smile, the sound of his voice or his presence. By letting me talk about him, I am able to relive moments with him.
Thank you for walking with me as I stumble through grief. Thank you for loving me as I learn to adjust to a new normal. Thank you for being patient as I learn to regulate the pain and fear.
A grieving friend