March 22nd, 2022
I dreamt of my father last night. He died three years ago. I dream of him often, and the dreams are all very similar, just variations on a theme. I never see my father in the dream. He is always in another room or someplace distant from me. However, I can hear his voice clearly. He is always complaining. Always.
What do the dreams mean? I don’t know. I am convinced that they mean something, but I can’t decipher the code. I’ve read a lot from Carl Jung, and one dream by itself may not mean much. A person has to follow a long series of dreams to understand the pattern. I haven’t had the motivation or energy to do that.
I have read some things about grieving. There is the Kübler-Ross model that says people go through five emotions during the grieving process: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. I don’t remember going through that series of emotions when my dad died. If anything, I went directly to acceptance. I reacted to his death with a sigh and a shrug.
I have been to funerals where the children of the deceased stand up to say wonderful things about their father. Often, they get emotional as they speak, and choke up or perhaps weep. Nobody from our family gave any kind of eulogy for our father. Nobody said anything, except for the priest, who hardly knew the man. I have always envied those adult children who were able wax nostalgic about the father they had lost. I have never been able to do that.
Was my dad a good father? Was he a bad one?I have no idea. He’s the only one I ever had, so I cannot make any kind of comparison. He raised me and my six brothers. I think that he loved us. He was wounded somehow. He had a bitter spirit and that influenced everything he did. It was difficult to be with him.
The truth is that I don’t miss him. If there is anything that grieves me, it is that fact. I wish that I could miss him. He is not the only one who died. Something died inside of me too.
It hurts to say this, but I have often felt relief that I don’t have to listen to him bitch anymore.
At least not when I am awake.
2 thoughts on “Grief”
I can relate, as I had a very conflicted relationship with my mother and we were basically estranged when she died. When it happened, I didn’t feel like it had any bearing on my life and I sort of carried on as if nothing had happened. Only now, almost six years later, am I able to untangle the strands of grief. What I realized is that I was bouncing back and forth between the anger and denial stages for years without even realizing it. I’ve learned we all grieve differently and the stages aren’t linear. Give yourself time and space to honor whatever emotions arise…even if they feel uncomfortable.
Thanks for writing to me. I appreciate your comments. I have had two people give me good advice since my father’s death. One of them was my priest, Father David. I told him about my dad, and about my struggle to find peace with his death. Father David listened carefully to me and then he said,
“Try this: grieve for the father you didn’t have.”
That actually makes a lot of sense to me.
The other person who advised me is a Native American friend of mine. Back in the early spring of 2018, I wandered around the country with a group of people from AIM. It was the craziest shit I have ever done. I’m glad I went with them, and it changed my life. (I wrote numerous essays on this blog abut that journey on this blog from Feb. to May of 2018). Anyway, the leader of our band was Chief Bobby. He’s from a tribe in southern California. His father was an alcoholic and a homeless person. Bobby’s dad was eventually murdered. I asked Bobby what I should do regarding my father’s death. Bobby told me,
“Let it all go, Brother! Let it all go!”
Of course, he’s right, but that is hard for me to do.
Thanks again for writing to me.