My father died 14 years ago this evening: 10 minutes to 10pm on Thursday 11 March 1999. I don’t think there’s been a day gone by when I haven’t thought about him.
It’s worse in the early days, of course, when the thought flashes across my mind that I want to make that phone call to him to joke about something funny I’ve read in the paper or heard on the radio. And then I realise with searing pain to my heart that I can’t. Because he’s gone. Fourteen years down the line, the urge to speak to him is the same, and the pain of loss around his anniversary is almost as keen as when he first passed away.
I remember three months after he died, a so-called ‘friend’ said I should be over it by now. Be over what, exactly? The tears, the numbness, the inability to accept that such a mighty man had been snuffed from my life?
After the shock and all the fuss of the funeral and the sympathy cards, people’s interest wanes. Their life gets back to normal. But for a bereaved daughter there is no getting back to normal. There’s only the day-to-day getting through, and the renegotiating a life whose volume has been dialled down several notches. Whose colour is a few shades faded. Whose fabric of hope has been ripped to shreds.
So I don’t believe in ‘getting over’ grief. Yes, there are ‘stages’ of grief to be ‘worked through’ and the loss to come to terms with. Eventually. But I defy anyone who’s lost someone darling and dear to them to say that one day they’re completely ‘over it’.
Grief will always have a grip on my heart. But perhaps by remembering my sadness, by honouring my grief, I am keeping alive my father’s spirit within me.