Beyond Grief and Heartache —Losing a Loved One, and Moving Forward

Goodbyes are only for those who love with their eyes. Because for those who love with heart and soul there is no such thing as separation. — Rumi

This time around, I walk as though my foot isn’t tied to a heavy weight. I smile to my dad and joke around as I ingrain to myself that I need to be normal, for everyone’s sake. Auto-pilot mode took over. I thought to myself that I can outrun this trailing loom of desolation, if I only remembered to keep moving. Stillness invites thoughts of him to resurface, thoughts I want to keep locked away. I’m afraid once opened, all will escape. I thought to myself that I would rather keep occupied with useful tasks — keeping my home tidy, keeping Mama company, and reciting prayers for him out of necessity and urgency. I think about him when I pray but more as a soul that needs these recitations to enter His gates.

But grief is sly as it peeps momentarily when you see a sock that looks like his. My mind plays tricks as I get my sister a glass of water, and I am reminded of the last time I ate with him. These come in flashes, though quick as it seems, they’re enough to disorient my numb disposition. Tears quickly form, but I quickly wipe them away. I say my thanks to those who wish me well, and I even begin to tell his stories as if he were still there. At this point, I am already breaking down, but my fingers keep typing and there are still people around. I am at my most vulnerable when I am alone and disconnected from my phone. Because in those moments, the raw emotions come out and my fondest memories of both of us just keep flowing. When I am alone, these memories are at their clearest. I can hear his voice, and this once most comforting and loving sound becomes something unbearable and I try to drown it out — music, shows, movies, friends, anything to distract me. But grief is sly as it slowly creeps up on you and surprises you when the playlist is on shuffle and his favorite artist plays. I immediately get transported to the sound of his laugh, and my own cries block out the music that brought the thought of him back.

Telling stories about him are enough to make me uncontrollably cry but it is the thought of never being able to hug him and kiss him and run to him that makes my heart break.

The stress of planning my future put a momentary pause on the whirlwind of emotions, but there comes grief again, sly as ever, reminding me that he won’t be there as I move forward. I cannot flip the page and start a new chapter if I do not come to terms with how this page ended, I need to let him go but not without remembering all that there is about him. As agonizing as this process will be, I will endure it. A part of him is now in me, and I’d like to believe it is his love and strength that is now transcended through me.

I have to accept that a missing part of me will stay missing and that the void that has been created with his passing will stay empty, but I will have to keep moving — no longer in a sense to be in a state of restless numbness, but this time, a steady pace that will allow me to live life more fully. Moving forward in a sense that I am no longer pressuring myself to be who I was before he was taken away, but to grow into a stronger and wiser person who will learn to survive heartaches. I will be moving forward in the way that he would have wanted me to, chasing my own dreams, embarking on my own adventures, loving others unconditionally, and in that way, he’ll be there with me too.

Someone’s absence is not brought about by death. Out there in the world, a person’s past is translated in someone’s present and future — through unforgotten tales, lasting photographs, and love that transcends through time.

Until we meet again, Papa. For now, let me be the vessel that carries you on.

Death is nothing at all. It does not count. I have only slipped away into the next room. Nothing has happened. Everything remains exactly as it was.

I am I, and you are you, and the old life that we lived so fondly together is untouched, unchanged. Whatever we were to each other, that we are still.

Call me by the old familiar name. Speak of me in the easy way which you always used. Put no difference into your tone. Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.

Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes that we enjoyed together. Play, smile, think of me, pray for me. Let my name be ever the household word that it always was.

Let it be spoken without an effort, without the ghost of a shadow upon it. Life means all that it ever meant. It is the same as it ever was. — Henry Scott Holland

A place for the thoughts I occasionally make some time for. (felicia.singson@gmail.com)