I recently heard that one of my childhood friends gave birth to her second baby, whom she named after her father who passed away while we were in high school. I was delighted to hear the joyous news, but at the same time, was surprised to notice a twinge of sadness come up from inside of me.
My friendsí father was the perfect example of what a dad should be. He was loving, compassionate, good natured and gentle who was very involved in his childrenís lives- someone and something I didnít consider my dad to be while I was growing up. Because of this and other special reasons, he was a surrogate father to me and I grew to deeply care for him. So when he suddenly fell ill and died within a month, I remember feeling completely overwhelmed with sadness and anger.
I was sad because my friendsí family no longer had the loving father they simply adored. I was angry at God for taking a man who was doing a wonderful job being a father- the way fatherhood ideally should be. But perhaps most relevant was the feeling of sadness I experienced for loosing such an important, loving presence in my life.
This event affected me in a way that I knew wasnít normal- so much so that through the years since his passing, I remember questioning why it touched me on such a deep level. The answer came forward almost fifteen years later when I heard about the birth of his grandchild.
After noticing the feelings of sadness that came forward once I received the call, I asked myself what the sadness was really about. I then silently waited for the answer. Shortly thereafter, I realized that with this mans physical death, also died my fantasy of having the father I had quietly wished and dreamed about. This event gave me the opportunity to look at the sadness and hence, the loss I had always felt since childhood and began the process of understanding it.
In looking back, I see that the loss I constantly felt all of my life was not as much about physically loosing someone or something, but more about the emotional loss around not having the supportive, loving relationship with my own father. The little boy inside of me was suffering from the loss of his dream.
This set me on the journey of letting my little boy grieve this loss. I gave him space and time to feel his feelings. During this time, I nurtured and showered myself with compassion and love. I treated myself exactly the way I wished my father had treated me when I was a child. This experience proved to be powerful, for I no longer was looking outside of myself for what I needed emotionally. I was becoming for myself, the parent I always wanted.
To my surprise, other feelings I was not expecting to experience came forward. I began to feel guilty and unappreciative for feeling the way I was- because although my father wasnít what I wanted him to be, he did materially provide for me and my family. I then reminded myself that we do not have control over our feelings and judging them through guilt brought me no benefit.
Towards the end of this process, I was delighted to feel a shift inside of me about my father and was amazed to see how my view of my dad dramatically changed. I saw how different my father and I actually were and how he was not capable of being what I needed him to be, as he grew up in a very different era which had a completely different understanding of what a child/parent relationship should be. I was able to acknowledge that he did the best he could and felt myself move into a place of deep gratitude for him.
When I honestly look over my life, I see that all of the signs were evident that I needed to look at my issue surrounding loss. Quite often, simply hearing a song or seeing a movie that involved loss of any kind would leave me an emotional mess. A good indicator that we have unresolved issues to deal with is when our emotions are strong and unmanageable, as our emotions are our internal alarm system that warns us when something needs to be addressed.
After all of the work I have done on myself, I was still surprised to see what resulted from hearing about the birth of my friendís baby. This just goes to prove that we always have things to heal and resolve and that we are a work in progress. This event gave me the opportunity to address something that, unbeknownst to me, needed healing and for that I am very thankful.
Is there any event in your life that needs healing? Is there any dream that didnít come to fruition that you need to grieve? If the answers are yes, I encourage you to begin the process today, for these issues will continue to affect us on levels that we are not consciously aware of.