I always thought I would get the chance to say goodbye to my dad before he died – goodbye plus some other things I really needed to say. But he died peacefully in his sleep a few weeks back and my opportunity was suddenly gone.
Some relationships that are supposed to be natural are actually the hardest. That was the case with me and my dad. I can’t say it was really a surprise that he passed. I had received a note from him a few months prior saying that he was in poor health.
So why didn’t I say the things I needed to say? I wish I had a good answer. The best I can do is confess that I didn’t have the best relationship with my dad. It all started during my childhood. But even as an adult I could never bring myself to address what went wrong and get it out in the open with him.
It all came back to haunt me the day he died.
Dad and I both lived in the Phoenix area but I hadn’t seen or spoken with him for nearly eight years. People close to me asked how I would feel if I didn’t reach out to him or trying to patch things up. I wasn’t worried. Boy, was that a mistake!
When I got the news that he had died, I went into a fit of uncontrollable crying that lasted for hours. I’m not proud to say it, but I just couldn’t stop crying. Clearly I was in trouble and I needed someone to talk to.
So I called in a dear friend Dr. Marilyn Murray, who is an internationally recognized expert in the field of trauma. She had the insight I needed to get me to open up and talk about what had happened between me and my dad. She spent hours helping me release some of the pain and navigate through the grieving process.
Here are a few things I learned along the way.
• Grief comes in many forms. But there are several stages most people will pass through on the way – denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally peace. I think I am stuck somewhere between denial and depression. For now, that is okay.