08 February 2015


My father died almost five and a half years ago and today, 8 February, marks what would have been his 79th birthday. Recent circumstances have caused memories of my dad to be at the forefront of my mind. It's days like these, birthdays, that the sense of loss is more acute.

It also reminds me that I've been pretty lousy at grieving the loss of my father. According to Swiss psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and her Kubler-Ross model, there are five stages of grief associated with death. The five stages are:

Denial / Anger / Bargaining / Depression / Acceptance

When I recall the events around my dad's death and the ensuing nearly six years, it seems to me that per the model, I skipped the first four stages and went directly, in much the same you do when playing the world's most arduous board game, Monopoly, bypassing 'go' and going directly to jail, to 'Acceptance.' I don't think I had much of a choice. There wasn't time for the first four stages when it happened and since then, acceptance seemed to be the only option.

To be sure, part of that acceptance comes with my faith and belief in a plan for us after this life. That sense of surety I have is, for me a source of great comfort but today, and I can't quite put my finger on it, I'm just a bit out of sorts over this grieving process. I can't help but wonder that because I wasn't prostrate with grief or anger at the time that I haven't honored my father's life or memory. I don't think so but it's bothering me just a little. I'm not saying that I should have leapt on his coffin as it descended (think the burial scene in Jonathan Demme's delightful Married to the Mob). That would have been ridiculous but I still can't help but wonder if I've grieved appropriately?

Loss and how we handle it is a deeply personal thing. Yet, and I've pointed this out before, it is not lost on me that I am ironically making it a public thing by writing about it in this forum. I know for others, opening up a raw nerve in a silly blog like this would be unthinkable. For me, though, this works.

Sure, I wish my dad was still here to be celebrating his 79th. Who knows? Maybe we'd have been by his side today. If nothing else, we would have picked up the phone and talked. I'm glad I was able to wish him a happy birthday on his last. He was a good, patient man. I take great comfort in that patience.I feel like he's being patient with me to this day as I figure out this grieving process. For that, I am grateful.

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