Faith, Family, & Focaccia

A faith and culture Mommy blog, because real life gets all mixed together like that.

18 Years: On How Grief Changes

3 Comments

Today is my 18th death day.

Not literally, I suppose. The demise that annually intrudes on my consciousness is not my own, at least not in a physical or encompassing sense. My life has continued on since July 17, 1996 and it has been a good life, filled with far more joy than grief. But it has now been eighteen years since my Dad left forever — through his own choice — and that loss has been one of the single-most shaping experiences of my life.

Eighteen years seems like an eternity in some ways – nearly half my life. Occasionally, when people learn about his death and express sympathy it is easy to brush their consolations aside. “It’s been so long…” But that dismissal rejects one of the fundamental realities of grief:

Grief grows with the life that bears it.

I don’t mean that grief grows in weight or importance. Generally time does offer healing, and the sharp intensity of pain diminishes over time. But growth does not always mean increase; it can also mean adaptation. As I have changed in the eighteen years since my Dad’s death, my grief has changed as well. It would have to – the grief of a confused nineteen year old would no longer fit inside my soul; it would not line up with the curves and shading of my more fully adult perspective. It also would invalidate the impact of eighteen years of coping, the way that learning to live despite the hole in my heart has shaped the way I do that living.

So today, on my 18th death day,  I offer this reflection to my still-healing soul, and to any with whom it might resonate.

 


18th deathday

 

Eighteen years,

the age of maturation,

shift from child to adult.

The age society declare

for independence.

 

It has taken eighteen years,

oh, subtle irony,

for me to finally see

it is OK to say

“I need you.”

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Author: Serena Gideon Rice

In early 2011 my family moved our home, temporarily, from New Jersey to Milan, Italy. In the process I quit what had been my dream job conducting policy-directed social science research, to focus on my other dream job, raising our two young children. The three-year adventure was exciting, exhausting, disorienting, fulfilling, and countless other contradictions. It also birthed in me a desire to share my reflections on life's joys and challenges with anyone who cares to reflect with me. Now that we have returned to the US I'm finding that the new perspective I gained in Europe has come with me, and gives me a whole new way of interacting with my home. There's still so much to learn and share! I hope you'll share the journey, and add your own lessons to my daily education.

3 thoughts on “18 Years: On How Grief Changes

  1. This is so sweet and so touching. This makes me relies how important this is. I wish Dad could have met Richard.

    • Yes. I think it is important. For so many years I felt like accepting Dad’s absence from so many important moments and people in my life was part of healing. But I am coming to realize that being too self-sufficient can be really debilitating. I need to be more open to the loss and the need, so that I can be more open to needing the people who are here.

  2. Pingback: Absolutes and Vulnerability | Faith, Family, & Focaccia

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