How are you going to get through your first, or yet another Father's Day without feeling raw, abandoned, or left behind? After my father died while I was a child, it took years before I could pass through a Father's Day and not feel sad and confused as I was left with all of the questions I never had a chance to ask as I grew up. As we grieve the loss of a father, sometimes it is easier to go through the process if we know what to expect as our heart heals. Understanding the grief process helps us to feel in control over something we have very little control over.
When we first lose our father, we often find ourselves making decisions and choices that sound reasonable but are quite counterproductive to our overall healing. Even though it may temporarily give us relief, in the long run it does not nurture us or complete our healing. For some people after their father dies they thrive again by themselves, but most of us are not that lucky or successful at dealing with the loss of love from a father. Sometimes we spiral down to the depths of despair (which is somewhere we all go to some extent or another), but then have trouble climbing back out. And to various degrees, you may re-experience the loss over and over again or continue to suffer your loss until you learn new ways to cope.
Some people who appear to have let go of their loss really haven't, because what they've done is closed the door to their hearts. To avoid feeling any more pain they move on too quickly, and in doing so they've numbed their ability to fully feel. Without realizing they are doing this they carry on in their lives unable to feel the love in their hearts, and consequently their ability to grow in love and happiness is stunted.
The good news is that building resiliency is an on-going process. How long it takes to move through your father's loss depends wholly upon you. While we'll talk about the three stages of grief here, the length of time it takes for you to go through each of the stages depends on you and your resiliency or ability to bounce back. I like explaining the grief process using Dr. John Gray's three stages found in his book, Mars and Venus Starting Over.
The first stage of healing is going to someone who can help. If family dynamics do not permit you to grieve openly or talk amongst yourselves, then you may need outside help. The advice of friends while well-intentioned may leave you feeling worse off if you're not able to complete the second stage in a way that is best for you.
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