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Should I Be Over It?

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My name is Emma and I'm 19. I lost my father at the end of March due to cancer. He was only 40 years old. Never having experienced a loss of a parent before, I am unsure how I am supposed to be feeling. My colleagues at work treat me as if nothing has happened, that life should go on. But I have an emptiness inside me that cannot be filled. I feel as though 6 months is long enough and that I should be 'normal' again, but I don't physically and emotionally feel that way.

As far as I'm concerned, I haven't done enough crying and feel there's something wrong with me because I haven't.

Can anyone offer me some guidance as to how long I should be feeling as if I am in 'cuckoo land'?


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Dear Emma,

I am so very sorry for the loss of your dad, and that you somehow feel as if you are grieving wrong. There is no right or wrong way to grieve, you just do it. Please pay no attention to your friends, and their expectations of you. They want you to get over it so they will feel better. As a society, death is a hard subject to deal with, and if by chance you have somehow escaped having someone who really matters die and grieve their loss, the subject is strictly taboo. You can take some consolation in the fact that they are not behaving this way to be cruel or mean, but they trully don't understand. They are ignorant of grief.

Your dad was young, much too young, and you are so very young to be without your dad. You had your dad your whole life, and you will never forget him, or "get over him", he is not a replaceable object. The pain of his loss will eventually ease, and you will be able to remember good times, the love and the trust. But it will happen in your time frame, not someone elses. Your relationship with your dad was and is unique, no one else had that particular relationship, and no one else will grieve that loss like you. There is no old "normal" any longer, your life has changed. It doesn't mean that your life won't be good or happy again, but it cannot be what it was when your dad was here. It will be different.

One of the hardest lessons for me to learn in my grief journey was not to use someone else's idea or progress as a yardstick to measure my own progress. Their relationship with their loved one was not mine with my husband. Our thoughts and experiences are individual, and our dealing with losing that loved one is individual also. When I quit beating myself up about how I should feel, where I should be on this journey and how I should be acting, I finally made progress in my healing. Still doesn't mean that I am "over" his loss, that will never happen, but it means that I have accepted his death and my new life.

Finding a group online or off to talk about your feelings is a wonderful way to help you on your journey. Somehow knowing that there are others who understand your fears and frustrations is helpful. You are not crazy, or demented. You have lost one of the most important people in your life, who knew you and you him all of your life, who loved you and you loved him unconditionaly. Take each moment as it comes, breathe when you can, cry when you need to, and laugh without guilt when you can. I will hold you in my thoughts and prayers that you make your way through this intact and that you're given a sense of peace with your memories and thoughts.

Love and Blessings,

bobsgal (Lynda)

My Other Half

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Dear Emma

I'm so sorry to learn of your dear father’s death barely five months ago. As you say, his death has left an emptiness inside you that cannot be filled. Even if you didn't see him very often, still you knew he was there for you, loving you, caring about you and worrying about you. My own dear father played a similar role in my life; he died in 1977, and I still miss him terribly!

I'm sure you've learned by now that "getting over" the death of someone you loved so much is impossible. We never "get over" such losses; instead, over time, we find ways to get through our grief and live in a world without the physical presence of our loved one in it. I can also tell you that the very special bond you have with your father will remain with you always. He will always be your dad, and he will be with you just as long as you strive to keep his memory alive in your heart and in your mind. As you work your way through this grief journey, keep in mind that it is the pain of losing your dad that you will one day manage to "let go" of -- but you need never "let go" of your relationship with him. As someone once said, death may end a life, but it does not end a relationship. So often we torture ourselves thinking we need to "let go" of our loved ones who have died and say goodbye to them forever more -- but when you loved your dad that much, why in the world would you want to let go of him? Focus instead on letting go of your pain. Think of what your dad would want for you as you live the rest of your life. Surely he would want you to miss him very much, as you do -- but do you really believe he would want to see you suffering and miserable forever more? Perhaps instead he would want you to go on to live a good life as a way of honoring his memory. Remember too that, although you cannot be where your father is now, in a very real sense your father is very much here with you, wherever you are, because his spirit and his memory live on in you, and because you are so very much a part of him. In many ways, you are more inseparable now than you were before, because you are not limited by space and time and distance.

You ask how long you should be feeling this way, and I can only tell you that grief has no specific time frame. It’s a little like asking “how high is up?” You may feel trapped in what you describe as “cuckoo land” at times, but that is because grief can indeed make us look and feel a little “crazy” sometimes. Grief can affect every aspect of our being: physical, emotional, social and spiritual. Take comfort in knowing that grief is not a pathological condition; rather it is a normal response to losing a loved one – and we grieve in proportion to the relationship we had with the person who has died. In that sense, grief is the price we pay for loving.

You also say you're not getting much support or understanding from your colleagues at work, who don't seem to appreciate the very special relationship you had with your dad, or how difficult it must be for you now to cope with your loss of him. Unfortunately, Emma, that too is not uncommon. People tend to be finished with our grief a lot sooner than we are done with our own need to talk about it. But there are many sources of help for grieving people out there -- you just need to take the time to find it.

You might begin by reading a little about what normal grief looks like, so you'll have a better understanding of what you're going through and what to expect in the weeks and months ahead -- it also may reassure you that what you're experiencing is quite normal under the circumstances. My own Grief Healing Web site contains a number of articles I've written on various aspects of grief (see my Articles and Books page), beautiful pieces written by others (see Quotes and Poems/Comfort for Grieving Hearts well as links to other sources of information on the Human Loss Links page. If you haven't already been there, you can get to my site by visiting http://www.griefhealing.com.

Participating in an on-line discussion group such as this one is another positive step, because it enables you to give your grief a voice. Here you can share your story of loss and find emotional support and even inspiration from others whose experiences may be similar to your own. And it's available to you at no cost, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Grief is very hard work, Emma, but you don’t have to do it all alone. It is our hope that here you’ll find some of the comfort and support you need and deserve.

Wishing you peace and healing,

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