Last November 11 I wrote of losing my dad, a career Naval officer who died on Veteran's Day:
As I thought of him again today, especially today, and then thought of Mom, I realized I had learned several lessons from their passings.
One was that grief knows no time limit.
We all react to such losses differently and manifest our feelings in a variety of ways. Our feelings are not necessarily strongest immediately after a loss. The overwhelming feelings of sadness over no longer having them with me hit hardest years after losing them.
Another is that memories are stored in our minds, not in things relatives leave behind, as we discussed earlier this week.
Items, even photographs, can definitely trigger memories and thoughts of fond times, but in themselves are not our memories. Hanging onto all of their things can be counter-productive, causing us to store things that could be better off sold or given away to others who can use them rather than allowing them to languish packed away out of sight. As so many of you wisely counseled me this week, hoarding may not be healthy.
A third lesson is that we should not rush ourselves or others who have suffered a loss to make immediate changes, to move, for example.
I didn't understand this when Dad died, only knowing that the time I could spend with Mom was limited -- she lived In Florida, I lived in Illinois and had to get back home to work. Because I could not stay indefinitely, I felt Mom and I and my sisters needed to handle all of the details of Dad's passing quickly. Since his was the first death we kids had experienced except for when we were very little, we did not appreciate that Mom needed time to come to grips with our loss.
These are some lessons I am pondering today as I remember Dad and Mom and all the other loved ones who have passed on. Dealing with death is never easy and is not a subject many want to talk about, but knowing we can express our feelings here and ask for your thoughts, helps us deal with aspects of life that are not bright and cheery.
Thank you for your kind expressions of friendship and understanding as I deal with the emotions of this week and of this special day.