To grow in grief

10 years;
3652 days;
521 weeks and 5 days;
87,648 hours;
5,258,880 minutes;
315,532,800 seconds
and counting.

It still is hard to believe how many years have gone by already. It’s harder to believe that we’ve managed to survive all this time without him. It feels like he’s been gone for a while, but at the same time, it feels like he was here only yesterday. Oh…time!

Everyone keeps saying that you feel better with time and that time heals all wounds. 10 years, 3652 days, 521 weeks and 5 days but the wounds haven’t healed. It hasn’t gotten better. What it perhaps has become is the new normal in our everyday lives. We don’t dance around his name like we did when he first passed away. It isn’t awkward talking about him anymore. We even talk about him in the present tense. But the truth is, it stings harder with every milestone. He will never see me graduate from university. When I get married, he won’t be there to dance with me. When I get a new job, he won’t be there to react to my news. When I move into a new house, he won’t be there to celebrate with me. When I have kids, he won’t be there to spoil them.

Losing him led me to lose a big part of me.

A part of me that was.

When you lose someone you love, you don’t simply grieve their loss. With them, you lose yourself and parts of those around you. With them, you lose friends and family and partners you thought would continually stand by you. With them, you lose light. With them, you lose love. With them, you lose a piece of kindness from your whole. With them, you lose faith in the Almighty. With them, you lose a version of life you were prepared for. With them, you lose a piece of life too.

Over these 10 years, 3652 days, 521 weeks and 5 days, I haven’t been grieving the death of my father alone. I’ve been grieving the death of the girl I once was and the girl I possibly could’ve and would’ve been if he were still around. I grieve the loss of the woman my mother once was and loss of my brother’s childhood. It is hard. It takes courage to fully understand and accept everything you’ve lost when you lose someone you love. Knowing that acceptance isn’t limited to or moving on from mourning the person you lost. It is especially hard knowing people from your present life will never know your parts of you from a time before his death. They will never know him like you.  They will never know you. So really, it is being okay with losing that part of yourself. With his death, I made room for indifference to find a cosy spot somewhere in my heart that was once only filled with love. Acceptance extends to overcoming this bitterness and indifference that grows within you.

Losing him led me to find a bigger part of me.

A part of me that is and will be.

About a year ago, I found myself at the bottom of a mud pit, isolated and lonely. There was no real or apparent reason for feeling the way I did. It simply felt like the wheels had stopped turning and I was out of every chance to be myself. I knew I was broken and I didn’t know how to fix it. Maybe I was broken a long time ago and the indifference was finally taking over. Maybe my rock-bottom happened in June 2008. I was only 15 when my father passed away; when I lost someone I dearly loved and admired; when I experienced the rawest form of heartbreak. At a young age, I understood the gravity of death – I felt the void and sadness it leaves behind. And since then, I have known grief as an extension of me, possibly too much to know anything else.

Over these 10 years, 3652 days, 521 weeks and 5 days, I have found myself picking up these pieces. Last year, was harder than most. It takes being at the bottom to find the courage to rebuild yourself. It takes being completely broken to know how to save yourself. It takes accepting the loss of someone and you with them, to find and rebuild yourself again. I found myself writing a new instruction manual with the aftermath of every good and bad decision I’ve made. I found myself growing in grief rather than simply surviving it. Acceptance extended to rebuilding myself after the fall.

Love never dies.

I know my dad lives within me. I know the 15-year-old me lives within me too. They’re there in my laugh and in my pain. They’re there in my thoughts when I smile at a happy memory, they’re there in my tears when I miss them, they’re there in my heart when I resent fate, they’re there in my heart when I accept fate. They’re there, always. And like love never dies, they continue to live too.

10 years, 3652 days, 521 weeks and 5 days – I may have lost who I was meant to be then but I found who I want to be now. Someone who is braver, stronger and more resilient. Someone who loves unconditionally and without hesitation. Someone who knows and someone who believes. Someone who chooses to live because of what she lost. Someone who chooses to live despite everything she lost. Someone who grows in grief.

10 years
3652 days
521 weeks and 5 days
87,648 hours
5,258,880 minutes
315,532,800 seconds

Time doesn’t heal, it teaches.

Photo by Larm Rmah on Unsplash