Moving through grief

A house is only as strong as its foundations. Has that been said before?

I’m not one for quotes, poems or readings on death and coping with loss. I could do a google search now and find some quite easily, but that would feel fake.

I’m not sentimental. I don’t carry a locket filled with a clipping of a loved one’s hair (well who does nowadays?) or hang pictures of fond memories on the wall. Some people might see this as heartless or cold, but we all deal with these complex emotional states in different ways.

For the last six months I have been working through the loss of my father. I believe I briefly discussed it in a previous blog, but didn’t go into specifics, nor the journey taken to come to terms with this emptiness. Let’s hope I don’t tread on old ground, but if you know me, that’s very likely, and probably natural for this type of experience.

So I’ll begin with some questions I have been pondering internally and with others;

When is it not ok to grieve anymore? What happens when you are denied your death rituals? What does love turn into after death? Should we hand out a spoonful of him to the guests when we are finally able to have a celebration in his honour - like a party bag? With some cake?

Some days I sit and feel nothing. The walls remain as they are, everything in its place, but still, a pervasive cold envelops my surroundings. Sometimes I am angry, snappy and curt to those around me. I don’t mean to be, and I know I have love in my heart, love to spare even, but I can’t escape the see-saw of moods. I am chaos.

I’m not one for sitting down and letting the rot set in. I consider myself pretty active, always working, either for myself or other people. That is one principle I got from him. Work hard and always have a job to go to before leaving another. I hope I made him proud.

For the last few months I have been using art, discussion and personal reflection to move through the grief. Literally, I have been dancing my grief. Finding my body, getting fit again. Making short films, taking part in discussions and hosting events with peers; talking about grief in an open and honest way.

It has been good for me to pour my heart into something I love and can use pretty well to articulate what words cannot. But talking has also provided a tangible link to others’ experiencing loss. Granted in different ways, but still along similar lines.

HOUSE is my first farewell to my father. A mourning lament and attempt at developing my own rituals and a digital shrine for his (in my opinion) greatness and impact on my life. He was flawed like we all are, made mistakes, was hated and forgiven. Was human.

I have explained my grief to others’ in a number of ways, but this one sticks out, so I will share it now. My grief is like being in the middle of a vast ocean. At times when I am submerged it’s quiet, peaceful, but also dark, cold and foreboding. A sense of dread clings to my skin, and as time ticks down, I have less breath to survive. When I do finally breach the surface, a violent storm is raging above causing waves to crash and bash into me. In these moments I am both myself and the storm, full of rage and battered by my own chaos.

Grief is all these and non of them. It’s who we are and how we choose to react to what’s being presented to us. The hope I have for myself is that I can find a new balance. I want to find a way to live with my grief, have it empower me to do more good, make a difference. Be kind.

I hope I made him proud.

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