My Inner Grief

I have nFeatured imageot let anyone see how deeply I am grieving the loss of my father.  I miss him so much. I knew several weeks before he passed that he had little chance of surviving.  There were too many things against him recovering.  I knew, but I couldn’t tell anyone.  I was grieving even then, but I couldn’t let my mom or my sisters know.  I needed to maintain my composure to give them hope.

In a way, my dad knew he wasn’t going to make it too.  He told me that before my grandfather died, he was on pills and had many physical problems.  He told my dad, “this is no way to live.”  My dad didn’t like it, but he understood it.  A few weeks later he died.  As my dad was being wheeled up to the ICU from the emergency room, he held my hand and said, “Michael, this is no way to live.”  He was letting me know he was tired and wanted to go.  I understood, but I didn’t like it.  They brought in a social worker to talk with me.

I feel like a lost child.  I had my dad, my role model and hero for my entire life.  Every day of my life, my father backed me.  He stood by me even when he didn’t approve or agree with me, because I was his son.  I was so proud of him.  I moved to Florida to be closer to him, and was so happy when I moved my parents into my home so I could take better care of them.  He only lived in my house for nine months, but I believe he was happier and had a better life with us.

I am grieving even now, but I can’t show it too much because my mom is so sad and depressed and she needs me to be strong for her.  I listen to her every day, expressing her grief.  She asks God why He took my dad, and she thanks God for giving him to her for so many years.  She has been a model of faith and trust in God in the face of so great loss.  She feels like she has lost her reason for living.  She needs to lean on me, so I need to be strong.

The day I sat down with the social worker in the hospital, I knew he was dying.  They put him in the ICU.  I went into the hospital chapel and cried.  Thankfully, no one else was there.  After that brief moment of grief, I needed to be strong for my mom and sisters.  I shed a few tears at the funeral, but even there, I needed to be strong for my mom.  Her grief is deep, so bearing it is very hard.  Eleven days later, I went out on my patio, lit a cigar, and cried.  After a good cry, I went inside and continued to be strong for mom.

I know its not emotionally healthy to hold it in, but there aren’t many outlets.  Prayer is an outlet.  I will be checking out grief support groups.  I can’t afford to come apart at the seams.  God has given me comfort and support, and I am grateful.  I truly believe God is merciful and kind.  I believe my dad is with Him.  I believe I will see him again, and we will be reunited.  While I have no desire to die at this time, I no longer fear it.  In some way, I look forward to the day I will be with my father again.

I write this post through tears and sadness.  I miss my dad.  I know I will miss him for the rest of my life.


9 thoughts on “My Inner Grief

  1. My heart goes out to you, when my older brother passed at only 40 I was devastated beyond words, my mother was inconsolable. Marty was my big brother and he meant the world to me… We both had the same dad and that made a special tie between us in a blended family. During that time I was very grateful I had friends who would ask me to tell them about Marty, this was so meaningful to me and therapeutic. Often people are afraid to bring the name into conversation for fear of making you sad, but it actually does the opposite, the remembering helps to heal our broken bond. Thank you for sharing your grief with us, you’re in my prayers.

  2. Thank you for sharing from the depth of your pain. It was a year of grieving for my mother before the tears stopped just happening randomly with waves of sadness. I still miss her, but the pain is much less. With my grandfather, who died when I was 12, it was different. The grieving did not end and it became what people call “complicated grief.” The tears did not end for almost 50 years but I had no idea that I could heal. I found information like this helpful in the healing process for a grief that lasted far too long:

    Please be gentle with yourself. Sometimes “coming apart at the seams” is what we need to do to express the depth of our pain. In the context of a supportive environment it is safer to go to that scary place. It helps.

    Bless you.

  3. Dear Rabbi Schiffman, thank you so much for this article. I cannot put into words how much this has blessed my soul. I leave Wednesday for Canada at my Fathers request,as his health is failing quickly and wants to gather his children for final closure. I knew this event was coming with my Father and I thought a lot about you and your family the past few weeks. I too, will be strong, and will hopefully grieve in due time. Deep down inside, I don’t want to be strong, but such a time as this, requires otherwise. Your words are precious and full of wisdom for me, thank you.

  4. My father and I were never as close as you and your dad, which caused me a lot of unhappiness along the way during my life. When he died that turned out to be some sort of twisted blessing, because I never went through the grief that is affecting you, and affects most normal men when they lose a parent. The same was true when my mother died, because she had been a serious problem for me all my life, which made her death a day of relief, however sad.

    I’m sure I will catch up with serious grief if my wife should die before me, something I dread every day.

    God bless you, Rabbi. Heal quickly.

  5. I have a feeling that your dad was/is as proud of you as you are of him. He loved you very much too.

    Your inner grief has not gone unnoticed by God. He will show you the way to comfort and healing, no matter how long it takes.

  6. Michael – you are a shining example of honoring your parents. You are strong for others – I know that feeling well. Just remember that you are also grieving and be gentle with yourself. Remember that there is no way out except to go thru it. Remember you are well loved. Know you have the respect and prayers of many. Hang in there, my brother.

  7. I miss my dad too, whom I lost 10 years ago. Thank you for sharing your grief as well as your beloved tradition in working through it, which caused me to long to be a part of something so beautiful? beneficial? holy? powerful? transforming?… I may not know the right word but I know how what you described made me feel. Thank you, and may He bless you in accordance with His good and perfect wishes.

  8. You did a major mitzvah for your dad before he went. He probably never even mentioned it, but I know it was there.

    I am 77, and have outlived my dad now for 12 years and counting. My wife is much healthier than I, and will surely outlive me by many years. There are SO many things in life that she just cannot do, or cannot do right. She cannot deal with the TV remote when it gets all messed up. She cannot check and adjust air in the tires, properly maintain the pool and boat, fix small things that break, operate the generator, figure out why the ice maker doesn’t work, put new batteries in some things, and on and on and on. When I die before her, she will be left helpless, and there is not a damn thing I can do about it. I worry and stew about this constantly, and basically there is no help. As an old man with a wonderful wife of many, many years, I just know your father had to be in the same boat.

    BUT, in your dad’s case, poof! You took that worry completely away from him, and he was able to go knowing his wife would be secure and cared for as long as she lives. Whether it showed or not, you lifted a very heavy burden from him, and he knew it.

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