On Remembering My Father

Sunday, May 22, 2011 by Michelle

Tremendous sadness enveloped my life two weeks ago when my dad, my pop, died suddenly and unexpectedly. He had just left the hospital two days earlier; he had been released and was feeling pretty good. Then on Saturday, an aneurysm he was awaiting surgery for in his abdominal aorta 'went' and he died. My sister tried to save him, giving him CPR, as my mom watched her husband's life slip away. He was gone before he even reached the hospital, with paramedics who genuinely cared for him. Stunned, we all headed home to grieve the loss and care for each other. My sister's grief path is in many ways harder than mine and my brother's, and my mom's particularly painful because he had only been clean and sober for about five years and they were getting along so well. And the financial surprises have only added to the stress, and to the solidarity of this mother and her three loving children. Sometimes out of the ashes of grief beauty can rise up.

I know I'm stronger than I ever imagined. I have discovered reserves of emotional strength I never knew I had. And, I've learned to lean on people who care about me; my co-workers have been so caring and loving it makes me weep in gratitude, and a new counsellor I am seeing has helped me give myself permission to set boundaries and space for that grief. My husband built a memorial site for my dad so we can all share our stories, something our family has a whole history of telling with often great hilarity. To learn a bit about my father, click here. And if you knew Leon, share your thoughts.

As I work through this grief, I find myself apologizing to family members and friends who have lost a parent. I never realized how hard it is, and I've learned so much about giving to others in grief through receiving. I am a very different person than I was two weeks ago.