Twenty-two days ago my mentor, my friend and more importantly my father, passed away. it was peacefully and pain free.
He had been on the long journey, like so many others, battling against cancer and although his body had lost the fight, his mind was still actively seeking solutions till the very end.
His mindset was key to embracing the inevitable, whilst enjoying each and every day with openness and humour. We discussed everything from our fondest family memories, music, reciting poems by Spike Milligan and our fears for the future.
Fear for those he was leaving behind, fear of being a burden, fear of not having accomplished all the things he had wanted to do or see and naturally the fear of dying.
I have never lost a family member, as we have consistently been a 5 generations family. I have no doubt that my amazing grandmother, who is 96, will be dancing her way to 100!
So this grief rollercoaster and numbness is all new territory for me, bringing intense waves of emotions to the surface that drowns all my senses. I loose sense of time, my head pounds, I feel my throat constrict and my eyes fill with tears.
Learning to navigate this uncharted territory needs new tools, new thinking and new insights to guide me, so I Googled it!
Who knew there are seven stages of grief, 5 if you use the Kubler-Ross model? Shock and Testing have been subsequently added to help facilitate change and give greater understanding of the process.
Shock & Disbelief
- Learning of the loss – if it was sudden or unexpected.
- Disbelief is a protection mechanism to stop us becoming overwhelmed.
- Physical responses such as shortness of breathe, dizziness.
- Not acknowledging our feelings.
- Denial that the loved one has died or relationship has ended.
- Journal feelings if you can’t express them.
- Feeling helpless that this happened.
- Bottled up sadness.
- Frustration that the world keeps turning.
- Wanting a way out to change the situation.
- Reflecting on the past looking for answers.
- Ability to accept loss but unable to cope with it.
- Being over whelmed and wanting to be alone.
- Positive reflection on happier times.
- Keep active; get outside set simple positive goals.
- Seeking realistic solutions after feelings of sadness, anger, bargaining and depression have been traversed.
- Clearer view of how things are going to be in the future.
- Coping and accepting the loss
- Ability to think and talk about your loss without intense pain or emotional surges.
- Finding peace, knowing life won’t be the same, feeling hopeful.
The physical and emotional pain of losing a loved one has been excruciating. However I do believe there is something called good grief, supported by the knowledge that it is the price you pay for the privilege of loving someone so much.
My father was a true outdoor man, never happier than watching the Osprey on thermals, smiling at the dolphins that followed his boat or wandering mountain paths in his beloved Scotland. Before he passed, we talked about the burgeoning buds on the trees and the emerging crocus that he could see from his bed. He loved this season of change, renewal, growth and all the colours that punctuated the hedgerows and gardens.
My mindset was definitely shaped by my father and I believe I am now at the testing stage having a clearer view of the future. The spring daffodils, with their bright yellow heads, will be a reminder that change isn’t easy but it is good. Also saying the Spike Milligan poem ‘On The Ning Nang Nong’ aloud helps! Try it…
If you are struggling with loss or grief, please know you are not alone and listed below are some great resources to support you.