2 months ago, my Dad passed away and my life completely changed. It's as simple as that.
Writing is a massive source of therapy and catharsis for me and I was thinking, almost from the day it happened, about writing and what I would write. However, for the best part of these 2 months, I have had virtually 0 capacity or ability to write anything about this longer than an Instagram caption. It is 2 months today and I finally feel like I can now. I have enough distance that it's allowed me to process it (a bit). So here we are,some, uneloquent at best, thoughts.
Yo-yo-ing my way through
Yo-yo-ing is the most applicable term to explain this. I have had days where I've woken up feeling happy and gone to bed feeling lower than low. Woken up crying and gone to bed laughing. Ready to scream at anyone who rubs me the wrong way to being more mindful than I've ever been to practice patience with others. I find this to be totally exhausting and frustrating. None of this is in my control, I cannot rationalise it and I can't plan for it. (Not very Virgo Ria vibes)
I plan my life diligently. I've mentioned before how I have hour by hour weekly plans that I have and use religiously. Planning, routine and structure is how I keep going on a day to day basis and now more so than ever because I desperately need something to pour my energy into. However, grief has an infuriating way of overriding me and my intentions. But not only is that annoying it can also be really scary. It makes me anxious for social situations or maybe I have a big meeting coming up - what if I have a sudden wave of sadness or I get too overwhelmed to engage. All these what if's are nerve wracking, but alas, you learn to expect and adjust to them and carry on.
It's a yo-yo in which I'm the case and grief is the puppeteering string.
I feel very different.
I don't feel like the same person I was before this happened or even at the beginning of this year. Sure, I'm still Ria - I like books and writing and astrology, that's all pretty standard and unchanged. I think it's more in my perspective, reactions and attitudes. Think of all those classic cliches about life: 'Life's too short', 'It's not worth it', 'It doesn't matter in the long run', or my personal cheesy favourite 'you don't know what you've got till it's gone' - they are all (sickeningly) true. But unfortunately, until you've experienced these feelings they are almost always a) unfathomable and b) ruthlessly hard to live by.
So when I say my perspective's changed, I mean that the same things that were winding me up/teasing me, where I would have an impulsive and strong reaction to now, I do not respond to in the same way. I don't take it all so seriously or listen to it really because in all honesty - it means fuck all. It's at this point that I recognise I sound like a terribly boring, disengaged person. It's not that I don't engage, it's that I don't take the result of which to heart.
The other major change I've seen in myself is drive and motive. My Dad lost his father young, at around 14. My Dad had this unbelievable drive like I've never seen. Every single day he woke up and just wanted to help people, make others happy and just make the world a better place. To do that for an hour is hard, to do that for your whole life? Unimaginable. And I never understood where this came from for him. How he kept going and never looked tired doing it. Then, my Dad passed away and I understood.
When that one person in your life passes away, your best friend, your Dad, the person you wake up for and work to make proud, the safety blanket of them being there to see you do all those things is gone. You can't text them, you can't call them, you can't hold them. And it is terrifying. So all of a sudden your way of living, your reason to go on is suspended. Now, you'd think this would completely debilitating and for some it is, completely understandably - it has been for me at times. However most of the time, it drives me to keep going x1000 more than I was before. Because, whilst I can't tell Dad these things anymore, I can still do them and show him. It's the truest test of character in a way where you're questioned to see whether you uphold your values and character even with one half of your parental support system gone.
So I get it now, Dad. I get where your drive came from, why you were so determined to help people. I get it now.
Take what you can.
I always look to rationalise a situation. What's the logic behind it? Why is this happening? What's the path through it? What's the time frame on this? etc etc... but again, grief does not allow for rationality. Humans who believe death is a surprise prove that they are intrinsically irrational because we are the creatures, perhaps doomed, by the knowledge that we are mortal. And yet we are surprised. Because we grow up with ideas like our parents being superheroes that will be around forever. Forever isn't as long as it sounds and then suddenly it's swept from under your feet. How can that possibly be rationalised?
Well, in short, time is a healer and it eventually becomes 'normal'. However, what I have found has helped me is taking what I can from the situation. To be clear, these aren't silver linings - I don't think these can be counted as such nor is it a 'take it on the chin' approach. Rather, they're ways and means to try and settle the information - a coping mechanism.
So I'm taking what I can - that I'm emotionally stronger and more intelligent than I was, that I'm more mature than I was, that I have a bit more worldly wisdom than I did. I'm taking my drive and motivation I've suddenly gotten and I'm embracing the pain of lessons I'm only learning now, that I wouldn't have learnt any other way.
I was going to title this post “2 months later” but what does that really mean to me? Not a lot. It's odd to address a certain period of time that is so defined and specific to you but pretty much unnoticed by most people. To me, the last 2 months have been the most extreme of my life, in every way. I have felt, I think, pretty much every emotion a person can feel in the past 2 months and at total extremes. Grief is the most unprecedented experience I think possible. I understand I'm only 19 and have barely lived a life really but in the same breath, I feel like I've gained about 30 years on myself during these past 2 months. It's a total minefield. But we're getting there.
To absolutely no ones surprise, I feel better for writing this post.