What I Am Learning About Grief

“Grief is the rope burns left behind when what we have held to most dearly is pulled out of reach, beyond our grasp.” –Stephen Levine

I write this as I remember my father who has recently passed on to the afterlife.

*Grief is hard to describe in vivid detail. It takes a lot of effort and courage to do exactly that. It overwhelms because of the pain of remembering, or the fear of waking up that pain you try hard to bury. Yet, it relieves, as it helps unburden you of that pain.

All I know, as from my experience with the passing of Mom and Dad, the sadness and sorrow, as well as the joyful reminiscing of the good times, even of the bad, of happy and sad memories, all bring a sharp sting to the heart.

Although with the passing of time, the intensity may lessen, still grief remains attached to your very core.

*Grief stays in the deepest part of your being, then unexpectedly surfaces to tear you apart. Like a veil, that silently covers you in your most unguarded moments, grief comes to choke you up in tears welling up in your eyes or gently trickling down your cheeks. Your sense of loss becomes more real even as you fight off this heavy feeling.

But because of faith that your departed loved one’s soul is being guided by God’s perpetual Light, you continue to live with hope and trust, and as much closer to how they’d want you to live.

I remember Mom’s final message of love and advice to us her children through a letter she dictated to my niece, on her last week at home, as well as Dad’s tearful message of love, forgiveness, and gratitude for each of us. They both wanted us to continue living out our Catholic Christian family values, so that one day we may all be together again in our eternal heavenly home.

*Grief is when you have a story or incident to share or a question to ask, then realizing the person to whom you’d like to share or ask is no longer around, never coming back. I was so used having had a story to share or a question to ask my parents, almost on a daily basis, even just on the phone or texts.

*Grief manifests itself in different ways – and of course, from person to person.

When Mom died, I was filled with so much sadness and pain. But Dad was still around, so our family’s loss was cushioned by the strength and consolation he provided – even though he himself was hurting and breaking inside. He was our family’s crutch, and losing Mom was bearable in a way.

Now with Dad also gone, we have to rely on one another for strength and comfort. Because I was able to tend to him in the last few weeks of his life – since his stroke in July – helping my sister nurse him back to health, my grief is all the more unbearable.

*Grief makes you hold on to precious little things – words, gestures, moments shared with your departed loved ones – like bringing alive your loved ones even through just those lingering memories.

Dad, clasping a big Crucifix in his hands as we prayed together with him…

I shall always remember one evening close to his passing, my Dad telling me “Salamat” when I gave him a little kiss on the cheeks; and when he held each of our hands to bring to his lips and tell each of us, “I love you.”

*Something Sacred Stands at Death’s Door

I can never forget that moment my dad went gently into the night, and how my sister and I were completely shocked. We could only wail and feel helpless in our futile attempts to wake him up.

Yes, my dad was already at the throes of death…he had been preparing us his family for quite a while, and we knew it was just a matter of time. Yet, his passing felt so sudden even then.

Something sacred stands at death’s door, and  it must be my father’s last gesture of love and kindness. My dad did not let us see him going into the night even though just a a fraction of a moment before that, my sister and I had just been beside him attending to him.

Today, it’s been a month since Dad is gone. Please say a little prayer for him.

My father’s urn during a memorial mass for him at the Pink Sisters’ convent…