The thing is, I thought I’d be fine, (or at the very least be able to act through it) yet there Christmas is… I’m planning it with food and presents and fun, but I’ve also been trying to ignore the fact that my dad won’t be there. Honestly, right now, I’m dreading it but determined not to be in this state of mind for long.
Living in the moment just ain’t working right now and I want it back! I’m definitely not enjoying the rubbishtimes or the crazy or the tears or the drama I created to escape the real pain! I really don’t feel like myself! Plus I’d quite like to be able to smile about dad again, thank you very much.
It sort of sprung on me on Tuesday, dead unexpectedly, (though I’d been a bit anxious and weird for a couple of days before that) and it hasn’t gone away since – a grief that feels almost as raw as the day he died (and just as real). The grief and the dread have absorbed me, turned me into someone I don’t know, with tears and anger and irrationality, and has meant that I’ve lashed out at (or over-clung to) those I care about, or am beginning to care for.
Dad’s there in the back of my mind still, saying ‘this will be one of the hardest things you’ll ever go through – cry.’ But he didn’t tell me what to do when I miss a Year 9 lesson at school because I’m crying or when I send crazy texts to a guy I like (who’s pretty stressed out himself right now) because my heart is too full of dad-emotion and I tried to redirect it.
My friends have been pushed to one side too, but they’ve been here before, and get me enough to know it’s only a blip. They know I’m just learning to gel the grief with another new situation in this year of firsts. They’ve seen me do it successfully before too, and emerge, butterfly – like, from the cocoon I’d created.
So, I’ve messed up a little along the way and maybe lost things that had begun to matter. What can I say? I’m still learning to juggle!
But… grief is so irrational and I need to be kinder to myself here, I think. Yes?
My thinking is that if the people I know and love can’t understand a few days of meh because my inspirational dad, who I was really close to, died and I’m learning to cope with it all over again at a difficult time of year, then maybe I shouldn’t know and love them!
So, plan of action:
Trial and error #1: I’m going out tonight, with friends. What I want to do is cancel, or get absolutely blindingly drunk to stop the hurt, but know that won’t solve anything, so instead I’m going to try to dance it out, re-find the lovely, normal Ruth I was this time last week, full of fun and teasing and laughter and giggly positivity who enjoyed things right then and there.
Trial and error #2 (from the bestest bestie Hollie Martorella): compartmentalise the grief. As Hollie said, I’m strong and very self-aware, so this should work well. I can’t let it have an effect on other areas of life, and especially don’t let it connect to or involve or fuck up new friends or relationships (big mistake and really unfair on something that’s so fun!)
So, if you’re grieving, don’t try to sort out or experience anything else as well… “It’s like a large and bubbling cauldron if you do”, said Hollie. Yeah. Yes it is.
[ASIDE TO HOLLIE] Definitely doing this one! It’s working already and I can feel the fun returning. Thanks darl. Xxx
Trial and error #3: Asking friends to please just offer to listen and hug and don’t mind the crazy. It’s the grief talking, not me; I think you know that, but maybe I feel I need to say it… For all I used to be a real introvert, right now I need my friends. Large, silly, dancing groups of them, singing songs. If I try to cancel, come round and kick me. I’m just scared and not in the here and now. And if I don’t reach out, reach out to me instead. Ta.
Trial and error #4: Meditation. Taking a bit of time out to focus on the really good things about dad and about life right now.
Trial and error #5: Piano. Jazz. Singing. Hell yeah.
Trial and error #6 Regain that living in the moment loveliness, bit by bit. Compartmentalise, keep focused on the present, just enjoy what is there. This is the one I want back most of all. I suspect the compartmentalising will result in this! Just be, girl!
Trial and error #7 Write out that grief! It’s worked to re-centre and re-settle me every time before and it’s working this time too. Self-indulgent yet so cathartic. Maybe some people will read or research or go to the gym (also amazing) … Whatever works for you.
Trial and error #8 Eat well. Poached eggs on toast with steamed asparagus, crushed piccolo tomatoes and a dash of hollandaise sauce should work for starters!
Think that should do me.
Bring it on, Christmas!