Monday, March 29, 2021

In Grief: Struggling With Acceptance and "Letting Go"

[Reviewed and updated November 7, 2022]

The beautiful journey of today can only begin when we learn to let go of yesterday.  ~ Steve Maraboli

A reader writes: I send you a letter, asking for guidance and help, my father passed away two months ago, and it's very hard to accept that he is gone, my mom is angry and sad, can you help us.

My response: I'm so very sorry to learn of your father's recent death, and both you and your mother have my deepest sympathy. I understand that it is hard for you to accept the fact that he is gone, and I can only imagine how lonely and lost you both must feel right now. The journey through grief is difficult enough, but it can be even harder if you perceive that death means the end of the relationship you both had with this man who is so loved by each of you. My prayer for you is that, over time, you will learn to accommodate this loss into your lives. 

I want to suggest to each of you that living without the physical presence of your father does not mean that you cannot continue loving him in his absence.  You can still decide how you want to stay in relationship with your departed husband and father, and together create your own unique ways to keep him in your lives and as part of your family.  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 this man that much, why in the world would either one of you want to let go of him?  Focus instead on letting go of your pain.  Think of what your father would want for you and your mother as you live the rest of your lives.  Surely he would want you to miss him very much, as you do ~ but do you really believe he would want to see the two of 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 he 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 for guidance as you struggle to accept that your father is gone and your mother copes with her anger and sorrow, and I suggest that you find the help you need by reaching out to others, just as you have reached out to me. Unfortunately, family, neighbors and friends 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 other sources of help for grieving people out there ~ you just need to take the time to find it. I don't know where you live, but you can go to Find A Care Provider to identify whatever hospice organization is in your own community, then call and ask what bereavement support services are available to you. If you don't live in the United States, you might ask your family or primary care physician, hospital, mortuary or church for a referral to someone in your community who specializes in grief or bereavement counseling.

I strongly encourage you to spend some time doing a little reading about what normal grief looks like, so you'll have a better understanding of what you're going through and what to expect ~ it also may reassure you that what you're both experiencing is quite normal under the circumstances. Visit my Grief Healing website and spend some time on each of the pages there. I've included links to many other sites as well, which may be useful to you as you search for the help you need. See especially the articles, books and sites listed on the DEATH OF A SPOUSE and DEATH OF A PARENT pages. Sometimes reading the accounts of others who are grieving reassures us that if others can survive the most devastating of losses, then somehow we will find a way to survive also. 

You'll find a number of articles I've written on various aspects of grief listed here, as well as beautiful pieces written by others here and here. Our Loss of a Parent Forum is available to you as well, as one of our Grief Healing Discussion Groups. If you want to participate, go here and follow the registration instructions at the top of the page.  

Please know that you and your dear mother are in my thoughts, my friend.  I wish you all the best, and when you feel ready to do so, I hope that you will let me know how you're doing.

Your feedback is welcome! Please feel free to leave a comment or a question, or share a tip, a related article or a resource of your own in the Comments section below. If you’d like Grief Healing Blog updates delivered right to your inbox, you’re cordially invited to subscribe to our weekly Grief Healing NewsletterSign up here


Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

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