I’ve learned one thing over the years. I hope I’ve learned more than that, but at least one.
Avoiding a negative event won’t make it go away, and dread doesn’t make an unwelcome occurrence disappear.
The first Easter without Dad was bearable, but I was still in too much shock to register much. A kind friend invited me to brunch, and I remained in my stupor.
Mother’s Day was difficult, but it always is. I didn’t even get my traditional Kat and Natalie story finished. Then again, I was focusing on Mistress’s Release.
Father’s Day is a different story. Compared to mothers who are always complicated (at least for daughters), dads are a rather simple concept in our world…at least for someone like me who was lucky enough to have a loving dad. Perfect? Nah. But loving and proud, yes.
I’ve learned that preparing for a complicated day can take the edge off grief. That’s the reason for our mourning rituals, after all. The funeral and prayer service were agonizing, but they gave steps for how to handle Dad’s death. It was afterward, without the social script, that the real descent into darkness occurred.
When my mother dies, my reaction will be complicated in ways I can’t imagine because my relationship with her is complicated. I’m sure it will be difficult to lost my last tie to my childhood and my past.
But I can’t imagine anything more difficult than losing the rock who gave me quiet, understated love.
On a day to honor fathers, I’ve taken the following steps. Yes, a month early. Yes, perhaps excessive.
- I’ve bought a simple Father’s Day card for my dad’s brother. We’ve never been close, but I loved hearing his stories about Dad in the week around the funeral. I may buy a tie to give him (my dad loved ties), but I may not.
- I’ve given myself a get-out-of-church-free pass. If I go, fine. If I don’t go, fine. The day will be what it is. I stayed home for Easter and Mother’s Day, and that was the right decision. We’ll see for this holiday.
- I’ve ordered altar flowers in memory of Dad for the Sunday closest to Father’s Day. Maybe I’ll show up at church and be able to take the flowers home as a memento for Dad. Maybe I won’t, and I’ll think of the flowers being given to someone else instead.
- An author friend sent me a lovely wooden spoon bookmark and a copy of her latest book. It’s being saved as a special treat for the day.
- Another friend sent me a copy of Carol. One more treat.
- I ordered a few books from childhood (later books in a series that I thought ended with #5, so they are new to me).
- No work that weekend. There is one project I might take on, but I won’t have expectations of that weekend.
And, of course, the publication of Mistress’s Release. As of this writing, the book has undergone its first round of edits and is awaiting the second. It made me cry to write the dedication, but it also felt good.
I’ve learned that the support of family, friends, and community are invaluable in times of grief. I’ve also learned it’s okay to say that I need space to grieve. Father’s Day will be one of those times. In grief, thoughtless comments hurt all the more. Sometimes we need to put up protective walls.
How about you? How do you cope with special days in the midst of grief?