Grief is a shadow that hangs. It can appear in the early-morning hours and linger. Some days it’s fleeting, but most days it’s not. Some days are better than others, but no day is the same as it used to be.
Grief comes in many forms and is processed in various ways. It can encompass a gambit of emotions, such as deep sorrow, guilt, anger, disappointment, regret and anxiety. It’s a lot to take in.
I’ve experienced my share of losing loved ones, but I’m still trying to process the recent loss of my Pops, Joseph Peter Mesh.
It was Father’s Day, and all of us were beginning to gather at the homeplace. We were setting up food when he began showing symptoms of a stroke. Pops, at 84, had some mobility issues, but none of us expected that day to be the beginning of a painful, six-day journey of saying goodbye.
Aside his hospital bed, I watched him get better, then worse — twice — before I watched him take his last breath. His cause of death was listed as COVID-19 and pneumonia.
I know part of life is death, but losing a parent — aside from losing a child — is the most painful loss, at least for me. It’s so permanent. He wasn’t ready to go, which makes it all that much more difficult.
A wall of concern, understanding, support and love from family and friends has helped keep me standing when the axis of life feels tilted without the man that called me his little girl. … I was the youngest of three and the only girl. I don’t know life without him in it.
Feelings of confusion and shock about everything that happened have led to intense bouts of sadness. There is no time frame on grieving, but it does become more bearable. I’ve allowed myself to be sad. I’ve allowed myself to cry.
And, looking right now at my 7-month-old grandson — Tucker Joseph — I’ve allowed myself to be happy. Pops would have wanted it that way. His memories ground me and allow me to focus on the day that I am living.
My husband shared with me a poem from an unknown author he received from a friend when his mother died earlier this year. “Grief never ends … But it changes. Grief is not a sign of weakness, nor a lack of faith … It is the price of love.”
In seeking a little support on this issue, I found these strategies on the American Psychological Association’s website to help with coming to terms with losses. I thought they might be helpful for others going through the process:
Share with others. Talk about the death of your loved one with friends or colleague to help you understand what happened and remember your friend or family member. Avoidance can lead to isolation and will disrupt the healing process with your support systems.
Accept your feelings. You may experience a wide range of emotions from sadness, anger or even exhaustion. All of these feelings are normal, and it’s important to recognize when you are feeling this way. If you feel stuck or overwhelmed by these emotions, it may be helpful to talk with a licensed psychologist or other mental health professional who can help you cope with your feelings and find ways to get back on track.
Take care of yourself and your family. Eating healthy foods, exercising and getting plenty of sleep can help your physical and emotional health. The grieving process can take a toll on one’s body. Make sure you check in with your loved ones, and ensure that they are taking the necessary steps to maintain their health.
Reach out and help others dealing with the loss. Spending time with loved ones of the deceased can help everyone cope. Whether it’s sharing stories or listening to your loved one’s favorite music, these small efforts can make a big difference to some. Helping others has the added benefit of making you feel better as well.
Remember and celebrate the lives of your loved ones. Anniversaries of a lost loved one can be a difficult time for friends and family, but it can also be a time for remembrance and honoring them. It may be that you decide to collect donations to a favorite charity of the deceased, passing on a family name to a baby or planting a garden in memory. What you choose is up to you, as long as it allows you to honor that unique relationship in a way that feels right to you.
For anyone that may be interested, Joe Mesh’s obituary may be found at smithfamilyfuneralhomes.com.