This blog post is not about me being morbid nor is it about me feeling sorry for myself. Over the past six months since my father died, I received a few comments on the two posts I made about my father’s passing. These were mainly comments from other women who experienced something similar and who were wondering how other women were dealing with it. More importantly, I noticed on my blog statistics page that almost every day people were using search engines with key words like “losing a father” and “daughter losing father” and thus getting referred to my blog.
Losing a parent is one of the most difficult things in the world and people want to know how to deal with it. It’s strange that I have seen family and friends lose parents but haven’t heard much from them about what it’s been like.
When my grandparents died, I knew it was hard for my father. He had a very strong connection to both of them. He’d talk about them and tell us his childhood memories of them. But I never saw him cry or exhibit pain over their loss. I assumed that because they were elderly when they died, losing them was just a part of growing older and that people had it in them to deal with that.
Two of my best friends lost parents as well. They both seemed very strong in dealing with it. I never heard anything from them about the difficulties they faced dealing with the loss. Again, the impression I got was that it was a normal phase of life that we go through and we’re built to deal with it.
I’m learning it’s not as easy as people make it seem to be. It doesn’t matter how old you or your parents are when they die, their passing is one of the most difficult things in the world to deal with. And it seems that it doesn’t matter what culture you come from, people tend to hold in their emotions while in front of others. People seem to think that they need to be strong for others. I know I’ve done this. I don’t want my own children to know I’m in pain over the loss of their grandfather. I don’t think they’ve seen me cry over his loss. If they are around and my father is brought up, I’ll put on a strong face, and even a smile, and talk about him lovingly. But then I may need to rush to the bathroom to let go of the tears in private.
So does it get any easier six months on? Not really. Not for me. I had a couple of good months where I felt the pain was easing. Most significantly, I stopped thinking of my father as often as the dead man lying on the hospital bed all covered in white. That phase was one of the most difficult. Perhaps one or two months after his death I started getting the more normal images of my father when I thought of him: my father lying on his bed in his bedroom telling me stories, my father sitting in his favorite lazy-boy chair watching TV, my father telling one of his dirty jokes and laughing his great belly laugh. Although the weeping hadn’t stopped, it became less frequent and less intense.
But it seems that I’m going through another phase of intensity again. It started a few weeks ago and it’s getting worse. Almost everything reminds me of my Baba. I think a lot in my head and somehow most of my thought processes end up leading me to my father even when they start out having nothing to do with him at all. And the minute the thought of him comes into my head that’s it. The intense weeping starts and I can’t help but call out, “Baba Baba Baba!” It’s worse in the mornings while I’m driving to work. But it can happen almost anytime. When I’m sad about something I remember my Baba because he’s the person I’d always go to for advice or consoling. When I’m happy about something I remember my Baba because he was always the first – and sometime only – person I really wanted to share my good news with. When I’m just normal I remember my Baba because it would have been nice to stop by his house for a few minutes on my way home to say hello or even to phone him up.
The dreams have been intense as well. I dream about him a lot. In all the dreams I can remember, he’s in the grave. Sometimes he’s awake in his grave and I feel relief that his death was just a big mix-up. It never really happened. Other times it’s as if he wants to tell me he’s all right. The most interesting dream I had was of visiting my father inside his grave. His grave was a large room. I went inside and there were young men wearing white cloth, somewhat similar to what pilgrim men wear in hajj, cleaning the grave. My father had been removed to a shelf above his spot in the grave so the spot could be cleaned. He was wrapped in a white blanket and part of his face was showing. He was resting peacefully. On another shelf in the same grave room was another man wrapped in white with part of his face showing, also resting peacefully. He looked like he was in his 40s. He had a close-shaven beard and his head didn’t have much hair. He was handsome. That man, I knew somehow, was the Prophet Muhammed peace be upon him. In the same dream but in another instance, my father was standing in his grave with his arms open for me. He had a huge smile on his face. He was happy and he wanted me to know that.
It must be important for our subconscious mind to convince itself that our loved ones are in a better place. This must be part of the healing process. I wake up from these dreams missing my father terribly but feeling happy for him. It does help to see him in my dreams.
I wish people shared more the things they go through when they experience happy and difficult times. I think that’s why I was such a big Oprah fan. Oprah and her guests broke down barriers by talking about feelings. By listening to what other women went through and being able to relate to it no matter how far away I was and how different my culture was made me feel normal. So many things we go through are just a normal part of this journey and sharing those things and having people share them with you helps you along the way.
Losing my father when I was at the ripe age of 42 was one of the most difficult things I’ve had to deal with. Being able to share with you all has made it just a tiny bit easier. I hope someone out there finds solace in relating to my experiences.