Author: Jeff Taylor, MAC, LPC
When I was around five I was desperate to have a pair of hot wheel pants and yes, I mean that literally. They were beige pants with VERY large bright pictures of hot wheels on them. I remember exactly where they were located. The second floor of Styx Baer and Fuller department store in the middle of the boy’s department. Once my Dad gave the okay that he would buy them for me I could hardly wait to get there! On that incredible day I sprinted to the spot to grab them, quite nervous that someone else might have beat me to it. I remember my very kind and gentle Father looking at me and saying, “Are you sure these are the pants you want?” I was aghast. How could someone even ask such a question. These were the best pants ever! In retrospect, I would imagine that many people thought upon looking at those pants that I was a sweet little boy that probably needed some extra assistance in a variety of ways. Yet. What I love is that my Dad bought me those pants knowing how much I wanted them, no matter how silly I looked.
This is one of hundreds of stories neatly stored in my memory that bring a smile to my face when I think of my Father. Simple but profound moments that reminded me over and over that he loved me, and I mattered. Another thing my Dad and I did almost every week since high school was having lunch on Saturday. This became an important tradition for both us. I now think of my Dad often on Saturdays because last year after battling Alzheimer’s he died at the age of 87.
For many years now, I have wondered what it would be like to lose him. What would the grieving process be like for me? What I have learned in the last year is just how deep my gratitude is for our relationship and all the wonderful moments I was able to have with him. Do I miss him? Everyday. The richness of his laugh. His child like wonder to learn and experience new things. How important it was to him to be responsible in all areas of his life.
The loss of my Dad has made me think about the ENTIRE area of grieving and the decisions we make each day about the people in our lives. Here are a few thoughts:
- Make a list that is either mental or written of the most important relationships in your life and seek to invest in them each day.
Remember: Grief + regret= despair Grief + wonderful memories = gratitude
- Give yourself permission to experience the loss. We tend to view any painful emotion as negative rather then something we need to feel that is often healthy and necessary.
- Find ways to mark key moments with those that matter the most. Whether it is writing a story, a hand written card, pictures or continuing family traditions. There are many ways we can and SHOULD mark important moments with those we love in our lives.
- Be intentional about telling people you love them. The last words my Dad ever said to me were, “I love you”. I am grateful that these words were spoken often between us.
Grieving is an important and even healthy part of life We will grieve many things job losses, losing pets and especially people we love. Loving people well each day brings a richness to life like nothing else.