Would you believe it if I said that I got one of those ”oh, my god that’s so true”-moments from the show the Vampire Diaries? Yeah, I know. I mean, in those kind of series I guess it’s the drama that you can ultimately relate to. Anyway, this contains spoilers for those of you who haven’t watched the sixth seasons — so just a heads up. Anyway, one of the characters looses her mother and it’s the day of the funeral (which seems to happen the day after she passed) and she says that ”today is pretty much gonna be the worst day of my life”. And yes, I recognize the feeling. And then another character replies:
”…Today isn’t the worst day of your life. Today and tomorrow, it’s a cakewalk, and there will be people around you day in and day out like they’re afraid to leave you alone. The worst day? That’s next week, when there’s nothing but quiet. Just a heads up.”
And yes. To some extent this is true. The day that my father passed away was horrible and in one way the worst day of my life, absolutely. But it was also mind numbing, unreal and so strange. That night I spend time with my uncles, their wives, my mother and my brother. We had dinner, we spoke briefly about the funeral and went into this kind of ”organization mode”. Later on I took a cab over to one of my cousins and spent hours just talking to her. In general, not only about what had happened and not because it was all that hard, but because it didn’t seem real. It was so abstract, so incredibly strange. The next day I woke up and just felt lost. What was I supposed to do next? How was I supposed to behave? I remember calling my mother that morning because I wanted to make sure that she was okay and we spoke, we kept it together. It still felt surreal. It hadn’t become real yet, not exactly. I was sad, yes. But it was still so incomprehensible that I just went on, on auto pilot. I did burst into tears when I walked into dad’s room at the hospice and saw him there…but after that I didn’t really break down. I waited for it, figuring that it’d come but it didn’t. Things felt weirdly okay, but mostly because I felt like I was walking around in this daze. I told myself that I’d keep it together, I would help out with things. I would email people. Whatever needed to be done. Whatever I could do. I spent time with my cousins and I was sad. But I didn’t break down. I wasn’t inconsolable, I mostly shed a few tears here and there and felt emotionally drained and sad, but without any explosive waterworks. Then the funeral came around and I think I was mostly on edge and worried about it during the days leading up to it, but the funeral itself was beautiful. Of course I cried, a lot, during the service. But I felt quite okay, all things considered. I kept it together. I talked to people. Sure, the get-together afterwards was a little draining, sitting down at the table and trying to have a normal conversation with someone whom I hadn’t spoken to in ages; well it wasn’t the easiest, but I did it. That evening I spent time with my brother and my cousins and that was even nice, cathartic. We talked about mundane, ordinary things as well as memories. I don’t think we explicitly talked about my dad though, but whatever we talked about, it was nice and I ended up feeling pleased and more relaxed than I had in a long while.
I remember speaking to a friend of mine who lost her mother shortly after my dad passed and she told me that things would get worse and that it takes time to fully grasp the whole thing. I did think so too, especially seeing as I had only felt sad before, empty but not really cried all that much. I figured that my strange okay-ness after he passed had to do with the fact that it hadn’t become real yet. And we were both right.
It started in April, when I wrote my last blog post. All of a sudden I could just be overwhelmed by all these feelings and I would find myself crying and unable to stop. The first day back at university (where I used to meet my dad often to have lunch with him) triggered a lot of emotions and I had to lock myself into one of the bathroom stalls for a while to collect myself. I remember sitting there until the light switched off due to there being no motion activity in the room. And since then it has hit me, repeatedly, this realization that I won’t be able to talk to him again, or hear his voice again. That I’ll never be able to hug him, or cuddle up next to him on the sofa like we used to. And more than that, I’ve realized that it’s going to be like this F O R E V E R and I think that has been the most horrible thing to realize yet. Forever seems like such a long time and it’s just so hard to deal with it. Thankfully I’ve had this really great classmate, J with whom I’ve spoken to about this and she too lost her father a few years back and her support has meant so much to me. Especially since it’s at the university that I’ve spent most of my time lately, so to be able to have support there has been great.
And don’t get me wrong. I don’t blame people for not being around me all the time nor do I wish to have people around me all the time. In fact, at times I really, really feel a need to be by myself. I think this is a natural part of it all, something that you eventually have to go through sooner or later. Plus, lately I’ve tried to put most of my energy and focus into finishing this semester and even though I’m now really looking forward to a summer break(!), it’s what I’ve needed right now. But what I meant to say with this is that yes, it does get worse in ways that I couldn’t really comprehend before. There was no way of knowing or preparing for it either. I think that grief manifests itself in countless ways and there’s no right or wrong way to do it, you just have to go through it.
And even though all the uncontrollable and seemingly unstoppable crying that happens every now and then (especially at night), is so draining and tiring (I mean it feels like you’ve run into a wall repeatedly after those episodes; hangovers got nothing on this) it’s also quite relaxing afterwards. Like you just needed to get it all out. So this whole timeline thing that I sort of had in my head at the beginning of this, that it’s something that gradually gets better and better, well it’s not really true. I guess it will get better, but the way there isn’t linear, there will be ups and downs. Tomorrow it would’ve been his birthday, so I think that my emotions and my grief gets especially heightened and raw at the moment. Hopefully, things will calm down after this exam and course is done and tomorrow has passed. Until then, deep breaths and keeping one foot ahead of the other.