That’s one hurdle cleared

I was really dreading Father’s Day.

I’ve always felt bad about how everyone on social media changes their photos and writes a little post about how their Dad is the greatest. All I could think of was how terrible people who had lost their Dads or people who didn’t have the Dad they needed (or any Dad at all) must feel about that celebration of fatherhood.

Usually, my Father’s Day post would be about how it was ok to feel however you feel about the day – to celebrate if you felt good and it was ok to be angry or sad or whatever and to take good care of yourself while you felt those feelings.

This year, though, I wasn’t even up to that.

I was dreading the day – especially since I seemed to be getting so many targeted ads about Father’s Day gifts. I suspect that all my posts about my Dad’s death signalled the algorithm that I wanted to see things about fathers (sigh.)

So, I made a plan for taking good care of myself in case the day was hard.

I felt ok about some things but not about others.

I was ok with doing the usual celebrations for my husband and with making cookies and a card for my beloved Father-in-law.

But I knew I couldn’t go and visit my FIL and I couldn’t drop by my Mom’s place.

And posting on FB was out of the question – in fact, I knew I had better minimize my time on there entirely.

With those protections in place, my day went as smoothly as possible.

I had a few tears – especially when it occurred to me to call my Dad so he wouldn’t think I had forgotten to wish him Happy Father’s Day.

I felt a bit down and kind of stuck so I took things as easily as possible, with lots of breaks and lots of low-key things I enjoy (I did a lot of doodling yesterday.)

I had a good text chat with a dear friend of mine.

I went to bed early.

It wasn’t an easy day but it wasn’t nearly as hard as it could have been.

I’m glad it’s behind me though.

Three complaints

I’m not going to get whiny here but three things are getting on my nerves lately.

1) I keep forgetting to drink water throughout the day and then I wake up at night feeling like I have been in the desert.

2) I’m having extra trouble choosing where to focus so I haven’t been able to write some things I want to write. This isn’t writer’s block, it’s grief and I am trying to be kind to myself until this particular aspect passes. It’s frustrating in the meantime, though.

3) My body wants get moving, work hard, really get my muscles working. My brain and my metaphorical heart are insisting on moving slowly. If I try to push myself at all it either stirs up my emotions or I feel instantly exhausted.

I know these things take time but I wouldn’t mind if they took a little less time than this.

On having a rough day

If you had asked me, before my Dad died, what grief was going to feel like, I would have expected it to be intense at first and then ease over time, with somewhat random intense periods from time to time.

Instead, I had a very short intense period and then a busy time, followed by a strange time when I was simultaneously supposed to carry on as normal but still make room for my grief, and then we have gotten to this week in which my emotions are so tangled that I hardly know what I am feeling.

The only thing my prediction would have gotten right was the random intense grief but even that doesn’t feel like I would have expected and it isn’t activated by the things I would have guess it would be.

Now, before you think that I was expecting grief to be an orderly process, I definitely wasn’t.

I just thought that it would have an overall pattern to it that it definitely does not have.

And the intense grief doesn’t feel like sadness, it feels like a weight settling on to me. The best description is that I end up feeling defeated or exhausted, like I have used up all my energy.

I know this is quite normal but it is a strange sensation to have my grief show up in my body that way instead of as intense or racing thoughts.

I was expecting to be swept away by memories that might then show up as a physical sensation. I wasn’t expecting to have the physical feeling anchor me in one spot and leave me feeling down – but without any specific thoughts attached to the sensation.

I really thought that it would be thoughts and memories of my Dad that would prompt the random intense grief.

Instead, thoughts of my Dad are making me smile, sometimes wistfully but mostly happily.

The heavy feeling either seems to arrive without prompting or it shows up in response to trying to work on something that takes focus or concentration.

It’s almost as if I can access a finite amount of brain power for tasks while the rest of my brain processes my grief.

That finite amount of brain power takes me pretty far but if I try to borrow any power from the parts of my brain that are processing my grief, I end up flooding my body with that heavy, defeated feeling.

So, it’s not that I am trying to do too much or that I am trying to do things I am not ready for. It’s that I misjudge the energy needed for a given task, I reach into the usual places in my brain for that energy but that part of my brain is busy grieving so I fall into the gap between the energy I have and the energy I need.

It’s a bit like when you think you have more steps to climb than you actually do and you find your foot suddenly dropping through air on the landing. Something you expected to touch wasn’t where you were expecting it to be and you are a bit disoriented and disconcerted by its absence.

Obviously, trying to climb a phantom step doesn’t really compare to navigating grief but it’s a small example of the sort of thing I am experiencing.

And, actually, reaching for a phantom step and then finding yourself falling a little is a pretty good analogy for my grief overall.

Part of me keeps expecting Dad to be in all kinds of places in my days and weeks but he’s not there.

Ups and Downs

Yesterday was a pretty good day but I didn’t sleep well last night and today is really hard.

My walk with Khalee helped a bit.

A photo of a shallow river in early spring.
A sunny day photo of a shallow river with lots of exposed stones, surrounded by winter-worn grass and bare trees.

I assume things will keep going like this for a long time and I just have to remember that there will be more peaceful days ahead.

Disoriented and Sad

My Dad died on Saturday.

I couldn’t say anything before because we wanted to contact all our relatives first.

I mean, the chances that any of them would see this blog are practically zero but still.

Dad had been unwell for a long time but I honestly thought he would go on forever, perhaps getting more and more frail and more and more curmudgeonly but hanging on despite all odds.

But I was wrong.

And now I feel like I misunderstood something fundamental about the world and I haven’t quite recalibrated yet.

It is positively disorienting.