It's been 3 weeks since his death and there is a new sadness that lives inside of me that feels like it will never fade away. It's as if my being has been permanently changed. The cells of my body are different. My organs feel different. And my heart physically aches inside of my chest.
As I let some of these things go, as I move forward into a next chapter without him walking next to me, I know without a shadow of a doubt that what matters the most is that I am carrying his heart within my own.
Given the insights that Sheryl has already found and so generously shared, I have little doubt that, despite the utter depletion that her grief has caused, she will continue to regain her amazing strength over time in new and significant ways.
You might think that knowing what I know about death, God, Love and the Afterlife that I might not grieve. But I do because grieving comes from loving. You grieve whom love. Love and grief come together although they arrive at different times. You can't have one without the other.
This will be our third Thanksgiving without my father's sidekick for close to 70 years -- my mother. We've all made adjustments. The only family member who lags behind, is Seamus, my 9-year-old black labrador.
The dinner began with intertwining circles of friends coming together to discuss an uncomfortable topic, and it ended with those previously strangers laughing and sharing and bonding over mutual fears and similar reactions and unique stories.
Perspective is a funny, fleeting thing, and the lens in which we view our world is ever changing. Often we stumble upon a perspective we like -- a perspective of playfulness, appreciation, or positivity -- and it transforms our whole world for a few moments.
Fred's journey through grief is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit. He has been able to maintain a healthy, loving sense of connection with Rose and at the same time engage in living in the present, and allowing his life to flourish.
As a bereavement counselor, it is my job to help create a safe space to give voice to the unspeakable, and to companion others in their grief journey as they travel into the wilderness of their soul in search of their own inner knowing and truth.
Death is kind of like a bad break-up. There's a lot of ugly crying, fetal position dry heaves, binge drinking and subsequent after-hours spent reaching for the phone. The only difference is that, this time, there's no chance of reconcile.
A therapist or psychiatrist may or may not be helpful to a bereaved parent. But a friend who can listen generously and non-judgmentally, recognizing that there is no "fix" for this tragedy, will probably be greatly valued.
Death reaches us in different ways, at different times of our lives. Some funerals might call for a piñata donkey, others for a sexy selfie in the bathroom. Do not stand at my grave and weep, goes the line. It's okay to weep, though. It's also okay to laugh. Honestly, what else can you do?