Grief, Disbelief and a Survival Technique


I’ve been procrastinating for days over whether or not to write this post – everything is still so raw and sad – but I feel as though it will allow me to at least move on with my work and, at the moment, work is a very welcome distraction.

I lost my Dad last Thursday. Which makes it sound as though I misplaced him – perhaps in the supermarket, or in the library. I wish with all of my broken heart that I had merely misplaced him and that I could turn a corner and he would be standing there, waiting for me, but unfortunately I’m using the term “lost” in a more permanent sense. I just can’t bring myself to write the word that means that thing that’s so final and irreversible.

Not yet.

Does it get any better? I didn’t ever think that grief could be so confusing, so complicated. Because before you can miss the person you’re grieving, you have to first rid yourself of the many “what ifs?” and “when dids?” and “why didn’ts?”. Why didn’t I just call him that evening? What if I had popped round to say hello? When did it happen? Did he think of me? Does it make me selfish to want to know that he thought of me? 

This is so intensely private, but at the same time I have always found writing to be the most therapeutic thing I can do. And for the past few days, all I’ve really wanted to do is to talk and talk, to share my feelings, but I can’t do it face to face because I cry and I can’t honestly cry any more because my skull itself has started to ache, and sometimes I open my mouth and no sound or even air comes out for long, long moments of time. It’s as though I’m just letting the grief out, like it’s a big black bird with its wings slowly unfolding as it emerges into the air, or some sort of fabric that has been balled up in my mouth that is suddenly being released. No sound, just the feeling that the entire contents of my head and body want to make an exit except they can’t because it’s as though everything has turned to stone.

And I don’t even know why I’m writing this, really, because I could absolutely have carried on – publicly – without the majority of people having even the faintest inkling of any sort of life trauma taking place. I could easily maintain my usual tone – not least because I have about a dozen posts ready that were written pre-catastrophe and just need photos adding to them – and nobody would be any the wiser. But a crazy, irrational part of me is thinking that my Dad might be somehow observing what is going on, and thinking bloody hell darlin’, you’re jabbering on about body lotions without a care in the world and I’m up here being forced to wear sandals with socks and a semi-transparent white robe! 

I feel as though I can’t move on with work (and I desperately need the distraction that work will provide) until I have at least somehow acknowledged the momentous thing that has happened – that has changed my world – and so here it is. It seems like the briefest of pauses, really, when I think that I am only committing these words to one little post, but it’s all I can bear to do. Privately, in the offline world, the pause is so big it threatens to swallow me up whole – it’s difficult to imagine life returning to normal, though it gets slightly more bearable each day – but here, online, I’m going to maintain the state of semi-denial I’ve lulled myself into, which seems to be my survival tactic of choice.

So on with the show – and if you are reading, Dad, I have a bone to pick with you. You left without saying goodbye.

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