When Grief Walks In

January 3, 2021

6 min read


Coming to grips with the death of my father.

Seven months ago, my father died from the dreaded Covid-19. He went through a lot in his life and suffered so much financially and physically, especially during the months leading up to his death. Due to the pandemic I couldn't be with him when he died, and I watched his burial through a zoom video.

It’s hard not to look at all that and wonder, “Why God? Why did you have to do that to him? Why couldn’t You let him have had it a bit easy?"

And yet, what do I know? Who am I to say anything? Maybe he did have it easy compared to others. Maybe there’s a whole other story on the “other side” that I’m not privy to.

In Judaism, there always is another side, a side beyond a wall that we just don’t get to see in this lifetime. And I’ve recently come to terms with that.

Death makes you come to terms with a lot of things. At some point, you fall out of denial that the person you loved is gone. It doesn’t mean that you’re happy they're gone and that you’re over it. It just means you’ve accepted that they are no longer with you and that at some point or another you will have to continue on living... without them.

It means getting up and continuing to live because you have to go on. But you don't forget them. “Moving on” doesn't mean leaving your loved one behind.

Death touches you too deeply in places where wounds keep re-opening over the course of your life.

Because you never actually move on from death, you simply can’t. It touches you too deeply in the places where wounds keep re-opening over the course of your life. Wounds that come in the shape of memories. Memories where you wish you would have done more, or been with your loved one more, or said or done better things for them. Wounds that sometimes start bleeding, when everything is a trigger and everything that comes your way leaves you in a puddle of tears.

Those are the days when grief parks itself at your front door.

Sometimes grief walks in without knocking. You're on your way out to work, to the store, or just being with your kid feeling good and happy, and then without warning, grief circles around you like sharks lurking for their lunch.

These moments come mostly around family holidays, a time when you might have been with your loved one, and now you can't because they are gone. Celebrating the holidays looks different, feels lonelier, as if you’re missing something or someone, and you are.

Then there are the moments when I find myself in a grocery standing in the fruits and vegetable aisle, feeling around for the perfect melon, and I suddenly catch a glimpse of a father and daughter. They're holding hands, and the young girl is skipping around talking to her father animatedly as he gives her his full attention.

That used to be me, I think to myself. He used to listen to me and make me feel like I was daddy’s little girl and the most important thing in the entire world.

And my eyes become glassy, and I’ve lost my interest in looking for a perfect melon. My heart is pounding and I need to go outside for some air.

The hardest is when people who didn’t know that my father has died ask me about him, and I get that awkward response, “Oh, I’m so sorry.”

I explain what happened and the mood grows dark, enveloped in silence. It’s okay we can talk about it openly. We don’t have to block it out, and I quickly change the subject.

I wish people would know that you don’t have to step on eggs shells around me. That we’re all going to die someday, even if we don’t want to think about it.

No one likes to think about death because right now we’re so alive, and when we’re alive, why go through the motions of what death is all about?

I get it, I was once there too. And although we don’t have to talk about it, just know, that if and when we do talk about it, that it’s okay. It’s okay to admit that death is a hard subject to define or connect with.

Right after my father died, I was angry. I had all these questions, that it felt like there were no simple answers to. Sometimes I found responses that seem to make sense. Other times, I pondered in betrayal, trying to come up with a good reason as to why God could possibly hate me and my family so much to do this to us.

Death allowed me to realize that every day I have here on this earth is bought time.

And despite those feelings, many times I would pour my heart out in prayer to the One that I felt betrayed by. Because at the end of the day, I always knew He was the One Who understood my pain and grasped the depth of what I was going through, and that if I was ever going to let go of my resentment I would need to talk to Him first.

My father’s death reawakened my life. I could never look at life the same way again. I couldn’t be so careless with my life, I couldn’t allow it to be “empty” with unimportant things and pettiness.

After experiencing the loss of someone I loved, nothing could be the same again. Death allowed me to realize that every day I have here on this earth is bought time. That every day the clock is ticking should not be taken for granted. Every day needs to be cherished and used. We cannot waste days on the mundane and unimportant things that seem to constantly clutter our minds and prevent us from realizing our purpose here in this fragile life. We must ignore the inner voices that devalue ourselves and veer us off course.

We all have an expiration date to complete our life's mission that we have been given. So let us choose life as long as we are alive.

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