The Path to Grief

“Just enough remembering, just enough forgetting. Live with a happy memory.”

grief3

The feeling of loss always stays within us whether we like it or not. When we lose someone, we tend to remember what we should’ve done or what we should’ve at least made that person realize before it’s too late.

One day, he was there sitting on one corner of the bed, then the next day, he is no longer there. One day, he played the ukelele on the corner of the house. The next day, no more sounds were being made. One day, the backseat of the car would be filled with flowers for Valentine’s Day. The following year, the car does not smell like flowers anymore. Very hard to accept. Very difficult to grasp.

My father passed away last year. The first month, on the 20th day. He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer November of the previous year. He lived up to 2 months only carrying that disease. He lost 50 pounds. He turned yellow. He walked slowly. He deteriorated. It was difficult to watch. It was difficult for my mother to watch.

“Good afternoon po Kuya. Pinapatawag po kayo ng Mommy ninyo sa Parañaque Medical Center.”

I was in school. I was about to go home late that day because my FIL 12 readings were not yet finished being photocopied. I was shocked. I called my driver to pick me up and rush to the hospital. Without a clue in mind, I was very nervous.

By the time I arrived at the hospital, my relatives were everywhere. They were looking at one particular bed in the emergency room.

What the hell is going on? Why are they here?

I had no clue. As my relatives paved my way for me, I saw my mother in the end, crying. I paid attention to her and I wasn’t able to see anything through my peripheral visions.

She hugged me.

Kuya, wala na si Daddy.”

Wait, what?!

I looked to the left and I saw it. I knew those looks on my relatives’ face. I knew something bad happened. I knew that my mom’s security would eventually text me to rush to the hospital not because of some sort of major checkup. This feeling was different.

Lifeless.

I cried. I hugged my father’s lifeless body and I would like to at least feel him one last time before he goes away for the rest of my lifetime. I already know from that moment that I cannot see him again. I know that he’s up there. I know he’s happy. And I know that he does not feel pain any longer.

When one’s life’s ends, all infinite possibilities end as well. What could my father be if he were alive today? Will he allow me to have a girlfriend? Will he get mad at me for getting a low grade in Accounting? Will he be proud of me after I made my first short film? These possibilities can be possible if my dad were here right now as I write this blog.

Grieving over a loved one is difficult. Psychology tells us that the DABDA (Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance) are the path to grief. I, however, don’t see it that way. The only path to grief is when you take into heart the wise words of Paul Ricœur.

He was able to give meaning to a “Happy Memory”, and he defined it as just enough remembering and just enough forgetting. When my father passed away, I do not want to remember him as a man who got yellow for having pancreatic cancer. I want to remember him as a father who is always there for his family, who is there for us all the time, who does not drink nor smoke, who does not cheat on his wife, and who values his family more than anything else in his life. With Ricœur’s ideas, I am now able to move forward with my grief as I mourn the loss in my everyday life.

Death cannot be avoided. Everyone will die. Everything that has a beginning has an end. Have you lived your life to the fullest? Do you have a happy memory? If you were to die tomorrow, how would you be remembered? I’d leave the question to you. Stay positive. Always.

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