Today is November 10th. Though it may seem like a regular day to most, someone is getting married somewhere. Someone else is celebrating the birth of their child. Others might receive the news they have been waiting on for weeks. And I am grieving what would’ve been my dad’s 62nd birthday.
As I sit here wondering how to write this post, the only thing that comes to my mind is a framed photo that has quietly sat with me throughout one of the most difficult periods of my life. An oversized photo, with familiar eyes, watching as I pieced together what must be the hardest puzzle I have ever put together. Those calming eyes are… well, were my father’s.
Ironically. I finished off the Accepting Grief series and opened my heart up to a new chapter of life without grief… And yet here we are again, ripping off the bandaid with the half-healed scab to reveal a bigger wound. But in all honesty, does one ever stop accepting grief?
How does one deal with grief?
When I started this blog, my intention was to use it as a way to vent – to let go of everything that weighed heavy on my heart. And yet for the past few weeks, all I could do was sit and put a puzzle back together. All those months of therapy, talking through the emotions, and learning tools to deal with pain were lost on me. All of the PTSD from losing my mom started to seep back into my life again, like floods breaking past the boundary wall I thought had been made solid.
I tell everyone that I am fine, I’ve been through this before. And yet, fine is not at all a word that should be a part of my vocabulary at the moment. Instead, I find myself wondering just how to deal with the surge of emotions that keep seeping in.
The funny thing about grief is that it isn’t consistent. One minute you are happy, and the next you are in shambles. And to make things more complex, the brief moments of joy come with immense feelings of guilt. I mean, how can you be happy when you are in mourning? Surely, no one would believe that you truly do regret the loss of your person…
My completely incomplete puzzle
All 1500 pieces of the puzzle were there to begin with. But as I sat and put together the symbol of my broken heart, something wasn’t right. By 500 pieces, I felt more human than I had in days. By 1000 pieces, I felt a sense of achievement. 200 pieces later, and I could see the light at the end of what seemed like an endlessly black tunnel. But by 1499 pieces in, something was wrong… The very last piece of the puzzle was nowhere in sight.
Believe it or not, that missing piece felt like a failure in itself. It felt as though I had come so far only to not reach my goal. No one likes failure, and I am no different. If couldn’t complete the puzzle that was meant to heal my broken heart, how could I become whole again?
And then it hit me…
Will I ever find the missing puzzle piece?
Life is like a jigsaw puzzle; you need to search for the pieces and figure out how they work together. Some people are faster at piecing them together, others take much longer. However, one thing remains the same – we all have to look for the pieces before we can put them together.
Although the analogy isn’t quite linear, the missing puzzle piece was such a beautiful irony. My dad, whose eyes twinkled gently upon me, was the missing piece.
Since the puzzle was built in a room I kept locked, I’m almost certain that the missing puzzle piece will eventually show up. But you know what? I really don’t want it to!
I’ve chosen to frame my incomplete puzzle because it is as complete as I will ever be. And one day, my grandkids will understand just why their grammy has held on to an incomplete puzzle for so long.
Where does this leave me?
I refuse to be depressed, not after I have made so much progress!
I will always love my dad, wherever he is, don’t get me wrong. But my daughter and husband need me to be functional. Losing someone as important as my dad was to me is something that was bound to happen eventually. Of course, it hurts more than I could ever imagine, but giving in to grief would be letting him down.
My dad was a strong, intelligent, and loving man who passed on fractions of these qualities to each of his kids. Each person learned something different, with neither of our teachings being the same. And the beauty in it all – once you join each of us together, we complete the puzzle…
It is up to us now to keep him alive by continuing his legacy, and in doing so, keep his memory alive for generations to come.