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Tough Night


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Tonight is a tough night. On Sunday, I am going to be back at school, starting classes on Wednesday. I think of interacting with my friends at school. I think, like last fall after November, when fathers come up in the conversation, I will shy away. Just now lying in bed trying to sleep, thinking about having to be around them and the occasional their-fathers talk made me start to cry. I don't know how I'm going to handle it! I don't really WANT to handle it! I kind of want to just burst into tears in front of them all, instead of walking away and "going to get a drink." I wonder how they'd handle that... <_<

It is just no fair. I hate it, sometimes.

I think one reason I am dreading being back at school, is because I shove into myself, or shove my grief deeper into myself, more, when I am there. I am less open about it, because I am aware of my peers' difficulty in relating. I have that bad habit of being accomodating....which is damaging, in this case. It's still hard to talk about, in certain situations.

And that friend of my dad's that I bumped into a while back? I can't spell his email address, so I can't send him a letter (and I don't have his phone number)...I wrote one out, and it was soo good just to get it out, it revealed things in my subconscious thoughts, but now I can't even send it and get a reply. :/

My dad was like a best friend to me. I really miss that best-friend-ness.

Today, I went swimming out in the country by the national park where my dad and I loved to hike...it was a nice swim, good time spent with my mom and stepdad, but standing alone on a trail for a moment to enjoy the beauty of the trees made me happy and sad, because while it was beautiful to see, I had no one to enjoy it with me (my folks were walking towards the car, ahead of me). And again, I made them pull over later, so I could watch the sunset over the mountains for a few moments...standing there at the side of the road, gazing at the orange-blue-pink of the sky, felt so lonely...

He should have been there standing beside me, you know? I love the beauty of nature, I think it is healing to me, but at the same time it hurts, because he was always there beside me, enjoying the beauty of nature with me.

:( Going back to school feels like going back in time...it's like, these whole 9 months (that's how long a baby is in the womb! My dad has been gone for that long??)...have been me trying to make things different from last year, so that I won't be forced to remember that just last year, he was here. But now I'm going back to school, and I'll have to go by that spot where I was on the phone and was told that my father had passed away...and I'll have to walk through the library on lonely shelf duty, and try not to think depressed thoughts...

And eventually, it will be past November 17th, 2009, and I won't be able to think "He was here last year." There will be a time, when I am forced to think, "He wasn't here last year, just like he isn't this year." I don't know which thought makes me sadder.

You guys are lifesavers. Thank you for "listening." Sorry for all the parentheses.

love and (((hugs))),


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((hugs)). Can you feel those arms around you. Now go ahead and cry. It's good for you to get it out. Remember last year when we talked about the music. Recently I've had a really hard time with music. In fact, I went to see Julie & Julia which was a really cute and enjoyable movie and the last 5 minutes bawled my eyes out and left and went to the restroom and cried uncontrollably in the stall. It just hits us sometimes. That doesn't mean it's a bad thing.

Just know how proud your dad would be of you for going towards your degree. He is there with you every step of the way. And it is hard hearing someone talk about their dad or in my case spouse. You hate it, but you're jealous or at least I am; and I get angry when I hear people speak unkindly about their loved one. There is a girl I work with whose husband was going back to Iran or Afghanistan and she was talking about how she hadn't spoken to him for 3 weeks because he had been such a jerk ( and I'm sure he had been). But I kept thinking that he might not come back from this and is that what you want to remember was that you weren't talking to him? I finally told her she just needed to be happy that she had somebody to be mad at and to hurry up and make up.

Well, I was up letting my puppy out when I saw your post so I'd better get back to bed. Remember we all love you.

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I am relatively new to this site, so this is my first post to you. I wish I had comforting words for you, but all I can say is that I have been feeling the same types of things you are. And like Mary Linda, I am often jealous of others for being happy with their loved ones (even my friends...!?), or even just having their loved one to fight with. Just know I am thinking of you.

Take care,


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Chai, I totally identify with your trepidation about walking past the phone and I empathize with your longing and sadness upon seeing sunsets and nature landscapes. I am the same with sunsets and the ocean / sea. I just get filled up with intense longing, sadness and loss - pure unadulterated pain and grief, magnified by the evocative surroundings. Very recently though, sometimes I don't ... instead, a feeling of warmth and love emanates from those sights and I am equally overwhelmed by that ... and can smile. My heart is swollen with love instead of pain and it is breath-taking almost.

Eventually you will find yourself there too. I'll be honest as usual ... it's balanced ... sometimes I howl, or I feel my soul crying even though I am not outwardly ... other times I feel closer to him and the feeling is almost sublime. Memory/association sights, like music, is too hard to start with, but eventually you can. You can listen to the music and smile. You will look at nature and smile and feel only the love instead of the pain. I promise you this based on losing both of my own parents. Just as, one day, when you are ready, you will hike again. Only you will know when you are ready though, never feel pressurized to attempt it before you truly want to.

I too would feel nervous about returning back to "life as normal" i.e. going back to school and old routines. Partially due to worrying about my peers' treatment of me (will they be uncomfortable about it ... or worse will they grace me with their pitying looks which I hate .... will they show empathy if I break in front of them?) and it is a similar parallel to my own experience of returning to work after Cliff died. I actually told my Director that I was terrified that people would avoid me because they didn't know what to say ... and knew that would make me feel even worse - ostracised. He communicated this effectively and to date only one person reacted that way ... amazing. Is there someone who could do something similar for you - it needn't be someone in authority, a student who is gregarious and networks with many other students can do the job effectively and would probably be taken more seriously by the demographic! It might help you settle if you phone one of your friends for a chat before you travel back there as that will gently commence your journey back there. You will feel less unease having done so, I am sure ... because it worked for me.

Initially I felt physical shock, like a jolt of pain, if anyone talked about "what me and xxxxx (husband) are doing this weekend, having for dinner", or moaning about them, or worse arguing with them .... that too morphed into .... I HATED people avoiding the subject and have actually told close colleagues and teammates that. These days, sometimes I surprise myself by adding to the conversation and sharing amusing anecdotes about Cliff if they are talking about relationships/spouses etc. I always talked about him a LOT, and I think that's coming back, little by little. Two days ago I was so pleased with myself when I laughed at someone as she mock-confided in me that she doesn't have any photos on her desk (like I have) and added, "you know, I don't really want to look at my husband all day long, it's enough putting up with the real thing in the evenings" ... she is not aware of my situation and I've only just started talking to her .... she would be mortified if she knew (and probably does now) - it demonstrated the progress I have made along my journey, to me ... a few months ago, I would have interpreted that as grossly insensitive, stupid even :-)

The other issue I would not be comfortable facing is this. Returning afresh for the academic year symbolizes to you .... reality, the harshness and hard cold fact that your life is going on without him very much against your heart's wishes, and it would be this that I would also find hard to overcome. Presently you are in that limbo ... twilight time ... where what happened, where he feels closer ... when you break the routine that you have made for yourself since, it is tantamount to admitting that this devasting loss is real and I actually (at the time) felt fearful ... that I was losing more of him. Actually, for me, I didn't experience more of a loss, but the firsts (e.g. if you routinely spoke by phone, or he visited you, or you shared stuff by email) were incredibly painful, so brace for impact Chai. Identify and establish your support network. Remember that it is early days ... build in "grieving time" in your day, when you allow yourself to grieve as deeply as you need to. On a busy campus, you may surprise yourself and find sanctuary ... a place to do this, that is a place of nature, away from the crowd, and this will help start the transformation of nature being the catalyst/symbol of loss and hurt, into ... release, relief, comfort and warm memories that you can wrap yourself up in.

Is there a counsellor on site that you can visit weekly or monthly ... better still can you access a bereavement counsellor? You will always have us too. You are already mindful of the fact that your peers find it hard to identify or comprehend what you are going through, but instead of the feeling making you experience this as a divider ... of you being alone in coping ... try to turn this around. Talk, even if it is to only one person ... about what you are going through ... about how you feel, don't accommodate their perception of your loss. It's a start. Perhaps make enquiries of the admissions office/your tutor/mentor as to other students in a similar situation that you could meet with on a regular basis.

Other little things are occurring to me ... such as, your religious belief ... is there a community that you can join related to your belief which is local to your school, or amongst the students? Also, your Dad's gift of healing, is there any facility there that you can go to or join so that you feel in touch with him in that respect? I don't know ... reiki or a meditation group, even yoga. Or photography as an extra-curricular activity, focusing on nature in all its glory. One of those things might help you commemorate him, honour him, give you comfort.

I know beyond doubt that you will make him proud of you in your studies. Carry him in your heart. Be kind to yourself and don't push yourself too hard or too soon. Be ready to feel the guilt that will raise its ugly head when you feel a sense of normalcy. It's natural but NOT warranted, please just bear that in mind when it visits you.

I will be thinking of you tomorrow. Please post here regularly so I (and others amongst us) don't start behaving like a clucky hen. We will hold your hand and be your silent cheerleaders.

Oh, one last thought. Is Em (EmptyInside) also about to return to school? Perhaps you two could exchange contact info and touch base to encourage each other along ... moral support and empathy both ways? You both seem such beautiful caring people ... with special Dads too. If you have the safety net of being able to MSN someone to sanity-check stuff it just helps to know that you aren't alone in carrying the burden of this unspeakable pain.

Hope I didn't come across as an interfering old aunt ... I just care.




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Dear friends,

Oh, Boo! I wish I had more clucky hens like you! I need more people like you, who worry about me and ask after me. I would welcome it, actually, if my friends gave me sympathy/pity looks; instead, they just seem to ignore it. I am back at school - and, I put up my beautiful picture of my dad with the ocean and the sunset behind him. Beneath it, I put a certificate of his when he went to a special school to get a microscope for his healing work. And a friend of mine joked, "Hey, you already have your diploma!" ...I didn't really like that. I mean, I have that certificate there in memory of one of his many accomplishments, and I feel very respectful towards it, even if it's in an old frame (which I like, because it was his frame). I put it right underneath his picture, so that people can relate his name to his picture and so it won't get mistaken as something else. So...urgh. Already.

But, I do have a wonderful network of support right here, and about 40 minutes away, a group of childhood friends who knew my father, and are much more sensitive to my grief. I am so fortunate to have them. When I told one of them last year, about some of my school friends' awkward reactions (specifically when they just sat and stared when I did my "I need you guys extra this year" talk), she was very indignant on my behalf.

Mary Linda, you are so kind to just write up a response to my post in the middle of your doggie duties. =) Thank you. I sat and felt myself enwrapped in that hug, and it felt better. And you are right - my dad is here with me, every step of the way. I just have to think of that more, when I'm back in the school routine, when my mind says, "Oh, this is normal" and my heart says, "no, it's not! I'm sad and this is different 'cause he's not here!" I'll have to think, that he is here, he is in my heart.

Korina - it is so nice to hear from you. We are in this same boat, where what other people say, pinpricks us like a needle deep in. It hurts. It hurts. But, like others are saying here - don't accomodate their pre-conceived ideas. Talk about it, instead. And we have each other.

Boo, your story about your co-worker and your picture of your husband - thank you for telling that story. That is exactly how it feels, what it is like, when there is some mention. I am still going through that stage. It is good to know, that it eventually becomes bright and warm to eet reminders, and the comments become not only tolerable, but ok, even in our grief.

I like the idea of finding a sanctuary. I think, I already have one, really - behind the school library, in a copse of pine trees like those I grew up around. No one ever goes there, and it's right by the on-campus river, so I can hear the water, and just lean back against a tree and think of my dad...I plan to renew my counselor sessions on-campus, and to take nature photos, definitely. I might go to meditations on-campus, too. My dad was into meditation.

Sometimes when I look up at the sky or see something especially beautiful in nature, I talk to my dad, like he is standing there with me. I think that helps.

The other night was tough, too (yesterday, before coming back to campus today). I was thinking about my two brothers (we share the same mom, and one of my brothers, oddly enough, reminds me sometimes of my dad in his handy-ness with things) and how I had just said goodnight to them...I was thinking about love, and imagining myself back in my dad's first house in LA; I pictured him sitting at the table and taking notes on something, maybe squinting in the light, and what it feel like to hug him and tell him goodnight, like I used to...and what it felt like, all the love contained in that hug.

And I thought about what it was like to go grocery shopping with him. (I would give everything to do it again! Even just a shopping trip, I'm not asking for a hike; just one grocery shopping trip!) We would go through the fruits and veggies area first, and he was so into the healthy things he could put into his salads, that he would pick up say, a cabbage or something, and exclaim, "Look at how beautiful that cabbage is!" and he would laugh, just laugh, at the sheer beauty and joy of it. Even from something so simple, it made him laugh, it made him happy. I miss that simplicity, that easy joy. So I was thinking about him like this...and thought of waking someone up to just, sit with me, but...again, that accomodating part of me said, "nah, they're sleeping." So I didn't.

In retrospect, even though it makes me also so sad...I'm so glad to just be able to sit, and remember little, simple things about my dad.

Thank you again, (oh, and I will send Em a message, great idea)

love and light,


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Chai, it's good to hear from you :-)

and even better to hear that you have support, albeit 40 minutes away, as well as counselling. A lot of people where I work don't talk to me about my loss, but there are plenty who do and they more than make up for those who don't in the long run, I have found.

I can picture your "sanctuary" in my mind :-)

Can't write now, as need to log off ... have appointment to get to.

Keep posting, we are here for you and we love you Chai.


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Chai, that story about your dad and the grocery store really resonated with me. Ever since I was little, dad and I always did the grocery shopping together in the morning (he said that's when the food is the freshest). It was our thing. He always picked the produce very carefully, studying everything he picked up for several seconds, his eyes squinting, his mouth in an "O" shape. In later years, we did the shopping in the afternoons after school. We were even grocery shopping last year. I loved buying food with him. We were both foodies, so it was exciting buying all the ingredients for recipes we wanted to try. So simple. So precious. Even an all- expenses-paid trip to Paris wouldn't compare. Like you said: "My dad was like a best friend to me. I really miss that best-friend-ness." I can't believe that dad and I won't be able to go out for lunch after my classes are done. Or talk about my day. Or talk about my upcoming projects. Or agree with me when I complain about a class (lol). It's really difficult when you and your dad were like best buds. I don't know how I'm going to face the place. Associations run very deep in my mind. I know that a smell, a tree, a sign -- whatever -- will bring on some acute pain. I hope you're doing well, Chai. Please let me know how you feel when you face these things.

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Thank you for the replies, thank you so much. Boo, you are awesome. thank you for the love. There is so much love and kindness on this website. I am having a tough night tonight (again!), thinking about how my dad would help me with problems I had with my mother. They were separated, but sometimes I would tell him about things about her which frustrated me. Since he was a healer who knew how to help people emotionally and physically, and was so serene, he came up with wonderful, gentle things for me to say to her to help us resolve any argument.

Now, I don't have my dad around to resolve problems between my mother and I. If I have any big thing with her, my father won't be there for me to talk to. (For example, her obligatory support for my writing career, which pales in comparison to my father's enthusiasm. my father believed in pursuing your dreams and never giving up, and that a job pursuing that dream could be happiness. My mother, bless her, thinks of a job as only a money-maker, and fears that I will become so obsessed that I will abandon my religion, as my siblings somewhat-have). I hope, I hope, that if and when there is some big argument between my mother and I, I will hear my father speak to me somehow through my heart, and know the right words to say to her.

Just by going on this website, and browsing around, I feel comforted and better already. Everyone here is so kind and loving. Just reading others' words to other people, what to speak of to me, warms my heart. I think I'll be able to go back to sleep now.

Em - It is good to hear that my grocery story about my dad and I resonated with you. I just had to type that story, even though it felt like a rambling sort of thing, and it feels good to hear that the story resonated with you. I feel like that is another connection we have, of grocery shopping with our fathers. When you really love someone, it doesn't matter what you do with them. Even talking about little things, like classes or something, and even trees, like you said, can be significant. I will certainly share with you, and thank you so much for offering, and for sharing your grocery-dad-story. =D I like that the two of you cooked together; that is such a fun, sweet thing to do with someone you love, and picking out the ingredients becomes a whole special project.

The little things really, really get to us sometimes - or, alternately, they help. I find that wearing an old jacket of my dad's (oversized on me and not flattering, but I don't care) helps me feel more safe, like he is walking through my school day with me.

Well, I must go to bed now. (((Hugs))) to all.

take care,


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Chai, whenever I have a dilemma ... I listen to my first knee-jerk reaction but don't react ... then I sit still for the longest time, and think about what Cliff would think, say or do ... and it always comes to me. I just find that I need the silence and time for it to happen. Like an inner voice that is his. Kind of like meditating without knowing how to!

It helps me so I just wanted to let you know and share.


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