I am not writing this to offend, criticize or anger anyone. Do not read this as a personal attack, a direct response to something you've done or me 'poking the bear' to get a response. What this is is me, stripped down, exposed, wanting you to understand and maybe even take a little away.
So are we on the same page? Good!
Today marks the 1-year anniversary of my dad's passing from his long fight with cancer. Do I think about him every day? You bet! Do I still get emotional sometimes? Of course. Does it get easier? YES!
Here's where I may piss a few people off (again, not my intention) because I look at death differently than most. When I remember my dad, I think about the good times; our skiing trips when I was a kid, going to Jays games, playing catch, and when I was older working with him for a few years, learning from him and when he was sick sitting and having a drink with him (even though he was eating from a feeding tube). And you know what? Those memories bring a smile to my face. Sure I could be sad because those are all the memories I will ever have with him, but what's the point in brooding over that and getting upset?
Let me tell you a little story: My mom passed away from cancer 14 years ago and I had the same response to her death. And know what I found out only days before my dad passed? Up until that point he had resented the fact that her passing hadn't had "more of an effect on me." What he failed to understand is that it did! But just like with his passing (and what I told him multiple times) every time I think of my mom it brings a smile to my face! I am grateful for the time I got to spend with her and focus on that rather than be upset at the fact that she's gone (which I can't do anything about).
Now, there's more to this story, because my dad never actually told me he had resented me and had finally understood, but thankfully he told Vanessa when she went to visit him in hospice on her own. I wish he would've come to his understanding of my response sooner, but I'm grateful he finally understood!
Now, he and I didn't always get along, and there were extended periods where we didn't really talk (which is strange given that, not only did we previously talk at least once a day on the phone but he was actually living with us at the time!). Thankfully, we were able to get back to our great relationship before things got really bad.
Again I could brood on the fact that we had lost time together even though we both knew there wasn't a whole lot of time left, but what good would that do? Instead I'm grateful that we finally got over ourselves and mended our relationship before it was too late.
So let's get back to the part that could piss people off: I get that you're hurting when someone passes (human or animal), and I am by no means trying to say your pain isn't real. What I am saying is get over it! I know, that sounded harsh, but it's meant to be a little shock to your system. I hear all the time people saying "the hurting/sadness won't go away but you'll learn to manage it". Fuck that! Be sad, be angry, be whatever emotion you need to be, but don't get stuck there!! I've lost both parents, both grandmothers, my great-grandmother and 5 aunts. I'm not trying to play the comparison game with who's experienced more loss, I'm trying to show you I get it. But do you think the people you've lost would want you to be other than happy? I never knew them but I'm sure they'd be pretty pissed if they knew their death was negatively effecting your life!
Death is sad but unfortunately it's a natural part of life, so feel those emotions when they come up, but also know that you still have your life and instead of holding onto all that sadness try replacing it with those great memories! Remember those great times you had and how much they mean to you and shaped the person you are now!
If you're having a tough time getting out of that sad(read negative) space, try a variation of the 5-Minute Rule: if you've been upset for more than 5 minutes, think of 3 great memories you have of that person! (and it doesn't matter if you use the same memories every time, I have my go-to's as well). And next time something makes you think of that person, rather than thinking how much you wish they were with you, be grateful you're still thinking of them and use that as another good memory!
I hope you're not angry, offended or feeling criticized because again, not my intention. Instead I hope that I brought a couple of smiles to your face, even if they were brief. Cherish your memories of those who are no longer with us, I know I do every day!!
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