Over the past few days, weeks, and months, I’ve noticed a (seeming) increase in friends with parents who are ill, dying, or have died. Each time, my chest aches at the thought of one more person beginning the slow, painful, and transformative journey of grieving a parent.
For some, it’s an angry, confusing time because the parent was abusive, estranged, homophobic, and/or changed by the unkindness of aging, dementia, and/or pain.
For some, there is a sweetness to the grief–closeness, affection, mutual respect, and decades of positive memories. It intensifies the grief in the beginning, but it helps the wound heal more cleanly.
For me, I am grateful that my father died before I came out and my family turned against me.
I don’t have words of wisdom to share today.
Just sending love to those of you, near and far, who are learning to live without your parent/guardian/caregiver figures.
It’s the club no one wants to join, but where even random strangers will show kindness, compassion, and love.
If you’re grieving a recent loss, my heart goes out to you.
If you’re taken by surprise at fresh grief for a long-ago loss, you’re not alone.
And if your heart is heavy because your parent is alive but is not able to sustain a healthy relationship with you…
Gentle hugs to you.
Grief, in all of its forms, tears us down. Strips away everything we thought we knew about ourselves and the world.
Then, amidst the ashes, we find the humanity in people around us.
The ones who send a card in the mail, for no other reason than just to send their love.
The ones who gently take us around the store, when we’re too stupefied to think, and help us choose ingredients for our father’s last home-cooked meal.
The ones who remember, months later, and ask how we’re doing.
My father may have let years of religious propaganda sever his relationship with his only daughter.
He might have put those concerns away and simply accepted me, as he always did.
I’m grateful that I will never know.
And in my heart, his memory is untarnished.
My family now consists of my father’s memory and nothing else.
As far as family goes, it’s not that much.
But I will always have it, and for that I am grateful.
As much as we grieve our parents, it’s a testament to how much we loved them.
How much we were loved.
And that…yes that…can never be taken away. Not by death, not by tragedy, and not by loss of physical presence.
My father loves me, seventeen months after his death.
This is most certainly true.