The lessons learned after the loss of a loved one…


It never gets easier.

Over the past year, I have lost family members to grudges, jealousy, and plain old meanness. This past week though, I lost the only father figure I had in my life to the ravages of old age; the kind of fight that beats both the body and mind to ragged pieces and leaves family members emotionally shattered. This particular beat-down lasted 3 years and while we begged him to “hang on” the reality was that we totally missed the mark on understanding what he really wanted.

He wanted to be free.

Free from pain, free from the depression associated with loss of mobility, loss of meaningful purpose and loss of the life he once led. I get that now. I get that he wasn’t purposely trying to hurt us by checking out months before he actually died. He just wanted to be out of pain, both physically and mentally and the only relief available was to be found in the finality of death. We didn’t want to see the simplicity in this and chose to make it about our own needs.

For those left behind the lingering regrets will gnaw at our own minds as grief is want to do and, if left unchecked, those regrets will start the insidious erosion process on our bodies as well. The goal now is to stop the cycle and choose how we approach this new chapter in our lives; live with regrets or LIVE.

I want to live. I want to make my dad of 8 years proud of me. Proud in a way my biological father would never have the capacity to understand. To say that I didn’t send a grief-stricken plea out to the universe with a note attached that said, “I needed you to be my dad a little longer” would be a lie because I did. I had to voice that truth and then promise to do better going forward.

I will do that for this dear man who I grew to love and respect. Whose stories about the exciting life he led were always a highlight of every visit and whose quick wit was always several steps ahead of mine and so awe-inspiring. I wanted to hear more stories because they connected me further to him and also made me realize that we had a lot in common. But, since that’s no longer possible it becomes my duty to pass what I know of him on and to live my best life for this amazingly witty man who literally impacted the lives of so many doing what he did the best which was teaching.

We learn from loss if we choose to listen to the stories it tells. Choose to listen.

© 2018 L.A. Askew
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