The Walking Wounded

A month ago today my father died. One month. Four weeks. 28 days. 40,320 minutes, since he took his last breath and I have finally discovered something, I don’t know how to grieve. I know how fill in forms, how to make phone calls to the bank, the electricity company, the newspapers, the oxygen people. I know who to phone when dad’s car decides to play up (again ;o), I know not to avoid hospital appointments, to keep writing essays (although they may be of a questionable quality), to keep working at my placement. I know that most days by 2pm I am exhausted. I know all of this but I have no idea how to grieve, how to say goodbye to the man who pretty much hung the moon and the stars for me. I know that this is partly due to the fact that I have learnt over the last few years to be strong, to hold it together when receiving bad news, then worse news, when getting jabbed and poked and prodded, when hurting. To always look to the positive, because a positive attitude when fighting for your life has to be beneficial – mind over matter and all that (although I am pretty sure there were many positive people who lost that fight). To keep going no matter how battered and bruised you feel (or can no longer feel). While all this may be true, I also think Covid and all its restrictions, may be making the grieving process more difficult, and not just for me, but for so many people who have lost someone over the last year. Because, you see, grief while personal is also something that happens with friends and family, it happens in community. It happens over a cup of coffee, in visiting a friend, in sharing moments and memories, in visiting place that were important to you and your loved one, it happens in the arms of someone else who has also lost, it happens in the silence, it happens in a hug offered after a funeral. It happens in all these and so many other ways, but it struggles to happen when these things are not possible. It struggles to happen when we are unable to meet others, it struggles to happen when all who are left are trapped in a house together and private grief is impossible, it struggles to happens when you are trapped with the clothes and the possessions of the person who has died because charity shops or recycle centres are closed, it struggles to happen when there is no place to sit, to light a candle, to reflect and let God in. It struggles to happen when we are all stationary and moving forward is no longer an option. In a year when we have lost so many people, one in which there are even more left grieving, we have all been left with wounds. Wounds caused by death, by loss, by isolation, by fear, wounds caused by riots, and hatred, by unemployment and loneliness, and these wounds are going to take a long time to heal, for we are sociable people, we need each other to love and laugh, to hold, to weep and to mourn with. We need each other in the highs and the lows of life, and without that interaction, what we are left with is the walking wounded; those of us who move forward, who keep putting one foot in front of the other but whose wounds have not been treated. In the months to come, we who are left, are going to have to find a way to heal. We who have lost loved ones, homes, jobs, identity, faith, who have not cuddled our grandchildren, or held the hand of a dying partner, who have not been able to attend school/college/university, who are scared to leave the house, who have missed hospital appointments, who have nursed and treated so many sick and dying patients, are going to have to find a way to move forward, to recover. We are going to have to find a way to mourn and to grieve, for until we do that, we get stuck at the cross and miss out the glories of an Easter morning and that is not good for anyone, trust me I know.

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