Grief Goshdarn it


Had he not died in January, my Da would have been 80 yesterday. I can remember my family talking about what we would do to celebrate this milestone in his life a few years ago. Before it was obvious he was ill and a good year before we knew he would likely not be alive when yesterday came.

Instead of being together, I worked a nine-hour day, my mum and sister got wet and upset visiting somewhere they only realised they went with Da for their 50th Wedding Anniversary after they got there (hence the upset) and my brother is away with his wife and kids though they did spend the evening before drinking Whiskey and laughing and toasting our Da in a way he would likely have been very proud of (one of my mum’s funniest stories about Da is him falling in a suitcase after an evening in Ireland where we all drank a ridiculous amount of Powers and Da struggled to extricate himself from the aforementioned suitcase).

I worked.

It didn’t even occur to me not to. I had not been looking forward to yesterday, but felt that I would be better off working rather than wallowing and feeling sad. That said I had had a headache for pretty much the whole week before and felt drained in a way I am not used to. This I put down to the fact I have not had a break for a while and that I would be fine once I get on my holiday in a few weeks time.

Of course, there was a quiet place in my mind where part of me sat in the shadows looking at the rest of myself and knowing that it wasnt that. I knew in this part of me, that I have been sad for weeks around my Da and losing my father in law so quickly and relatively unexpectedly had just added to the heavy weight of grief I was already carrying. In this part of me, floating in the clouds of my tired mind and obscuring my view, lived the tears around all this loss, sadness and hurt, and though I could sense it there, I was not willing to look over at it and accept that I, the master therapist, the help, support and shoulder for so many has been really struggling to get in touch with my sadness.

And as ever when this happens there have been consequences. All day today I have been fumbling along like an emotional bear with a sore head of epic proportions. I have been quick to anger and upset those closest to me as that anger has always been sat atop my anger. It sits there like some kind of psychotic, narcissistic and spiteful totem, full of childlike impotent rage and replete with a sense of unfairness and hatred of the world that does not bend to its will. Today was its first outing in a very long time.

There is a point to writing this beyond my own self indulgence and need to process what has been happening for me lately. This blog is only one of the ways I do that and I will be processing my experience with as many people as I can get to listen to me over the next few weeks. I write it to show that even therapists, experienced, well-trained and knowledgeable can get caught out and knocked sideways when they do not allow themselves their true feelings, especially when it comes to something as powerful, unavoidable and bloody unfair as having to lose the people you love the most in the world.

I say this a lot to people and it is true. Grief is the price we pay for loving, if we love, we have to accept that at some point we will either leave/die or the other person with leave or die. That is the contract and it is unbreakable.

However, like the terms and conditions that come along with any Apple product, I just wish it was clear from the start that is what we are agreeing to!

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