Grief is a individual experience, and impossible to generalise. But we are very grateful to one young man, who wished to remain anonymous, for sharing this personal reflection on grief following the death of his father.
“I am not sure that I believe in grief as a process, as we are told to, when we are worried and concerned that we are doing it wrong.
“If it was, I would not have ticked off any sections or passed any goal posts. It will not leave me in a matter of time, or ease as the memories blur. It is a part of me.”
“For me, grief is water. It is natural, it is powerful, and it is overwhelming.
Sometimes I feel as though I am in control, and sometimes, I feel as though I have had no time to grieve at all.”
“The first family birthday without Dad caused a ripple of grief in our house. There were laughter, tears, cakes, presents, and an overwhelming sense that he was missing.
“The ripples of effects were far-reaching and left us in a stupor of thought all evening.
“These ripples are not always big.
“Driving past a favourite café or catching a familiar smell can leave a small pang that surges for an hour or so, before subsiding into a calm, fond memory.”
“Sometimes, the grief comes in a wave that overpowers you, and knocks you into wondering whether you have progressed in any way at all.
“The water is not always moving. Sometimes it is calm and I wonder whether it is all going to be OK after all. I’ve earned my badges, and passed my goal posts after all, I am going to be able to swim.”
“Reflections and memories are an important part of the grieving process. Or so I am told. Last Christmas was filled with memories, pictures of Christmas past, and even a reminiscent trip to the seaside.
“Reflecting on Dad’s death has changed who I am and made me wonder what kind of life I would like. It has helped me to reflect on how we are as a family, and how we will be. The longer I look the more of him I see in myself, and the more of him I look for in me.”
“Although at the funeral there were plenty of flattering words and high praises, they weren’t of my dad. The water of my memories is familiar. It is a steaming cup of tea, or the memory of one. It is a warm bath after a day playing in the snow. These are the memories that I believe are worth noting. They are mine and they are ours.
“Although, when I look up from here, I see a sea of memories. School friends, cousins, colleagues, neighbours; all have their own moments of note, little smiling reminders of him and puddles of grief of their own, some of which I will never see and some of which form part of my own memory.”
“Drops of memories create a body of water almost big enough to overpower my sea of grief. Waves of new information or character traits drench me in fresh and novel images of my dad. After all, to history, he is one drop, but to us, his friends and family, he is a puddle, a lake, an ocean.”
“My watery grief ripples as I write this. But I am reminded, when overwhelmed, that grief, like water is very natural. It is part of a process and part of our lives. It is something we all know, but in different ways. It is something that can overwhelm and drown, but also something that bring freshness, and that can also dry.”
The Art of Dying Well project is very grateful for this extremely thoughtful piece of writing on the nature of grief. We hope it will be of comfort to others. For more advice please read our page on coping with bereavement and grief.