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“Just talking to people who understand helped me feel less overwhelmed. The written information made the difference in the middle of the night.”  

~Leah

Post 34 My Dad

Over the past weekend, we celebrated Father’s Day with my husband and sons and uncles and friends that are fathers.  We ate barbecue and played kickball and opened home-made gifts and gave presents to honor them.  I hope your weekend was as wonderful.

In the back of my mind on the holiday, though, was my Dad.  He died of leukemia in 1997.

As my husband, Bill, pulled the juicy pork steaks off the grill, I thought about how my Dad always burnt the meat.  And how we seven kids loved it anyway because while he barbecued, it was one of the few times he would sit and talk and joke with us. He’d let us have a sip of his Miller High Life while he cooked (which he also used to extinguish the flames that always erupted over the meat.)

My Dad made homemade BBQ sauce.  Mom’s homemade ketchup was his secret ingredient.  The sauce was so sweet and spicy that I can still taste it like it was yesterday, instead of many decades ago.

My Dad, like many of his generation, while loving, was not a very involved father.  He was a blend of tough like nails and tender.  Our relationship didn’t include much talking.  We certainly didn’t discuss “feelings” or say “I love you.”

When my Mom died suddenly, tragically, when I was 14, Dad didn’t cope very well.  In hindsight, I, at 14, didn’t cut him any slack, either.  The lack of communication didn’t improve as we seven siblings grieved.  There was no discussion about how we were coping, how we were feeling.  The lack of anyone helping us children manage our grief led each of us to different ways to handle our grief the best we could.

The poem I wrote describing Dad for We Lost Her, the book I wrote about our family’s grief journey, sums up my feelings for him well:

 

     Dad’s Gone

Our Dad was a man of dichotomies

Proud, yet humble as a man could be

He taught us to work and to tell the truth

He loved the land, and to fish, hunt and shoot

Stoic and German, like men in that era

And most of us see him when we look in the mirror

And, as time passed, we understood

Our Dad, he did the best he could

We hope that he’s with Mom, up in heaven

Watching over us, their flock of seven

 

In writing the book I had time to deeply reflect on my Dad, and my feelings for him.  I am grateful for that process, it was cathartic.  It provided much needed healing.  Our relationship wasn’t perfect and I can’t change that now.  I can only remember the good times and the good man he was.

Reflecting on our relationship as I wrote helped me realize that this grief thing, it doesn’t “stop.”  It will always be a part of me and I’m grateful, because that’s the part that remembers and holds those I’ve lost, like my Dad, in the fabric of my being.

If you are grieving, and hoping the pain will stop, I hope you will come to know that it won’t always hurt so badly, and at some point, you may be at peace that your grief journey doesn’t stop.  It just weaves into you.  At some point you will be able to reflect on the good times.  Trust that you will remember the person you lost and hold on to those memories all your life.

If you are helping a child grieve the loss of their Dad, work to keep those communication lines open.  Just listening and being there, being present for them is often the best support anyone can provide.

Heartlinks Grief Center provides grief support to children and adults, to all ages.  If you are grieving or know someone who could use assistance on their grief journey, please contact Heartlinks Grief Center at 618-277-1800 or email support@myheartlinks.com.

Be blessed,

Ellen

 

Ellen Krohne, author of We Lost Her, available on Amazon.com

Heartlinks Grief Center volunteer and Family Hospice board member

https://www.facebook.com/WeLostHer/

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