I was going to begin this week with a yoga blog about a piece of yogic philosophy. Instead I am going to write a bit for my dad.
12 years ago my dad died from cancer. It is wild to say 12 years because often it feels much less than that. Often it feels like 1 year. My sister pointed out that she has lived more than a third of her life without our dad. Ugh.
He wrote my sister and I a letter each before he died and just thinking of it brings tears to my eyes. He started out my letter with “Daddy seems to have goofed and lost my fight with this stupid disease..”
I loved how my dad could talk about something so sad and throw in a silly word or two to lighten it up. Guess I got that from him (obviously I am not using that talent at the moment).
In the letter he talks about how proud he is of me and how he liked to let me think I was manipulating him. I knew that he knew but it was a fun dance as a teenager! He even talked about how he worried that I did too much at once and that he was confident that I would learn how to balance it. Took a while but I think I have it figured out now Dad!
One reason that I decided not to write about my planned “yoga” topic was the fact that yoga and living the life of yoga is all about being raw, vulnerable and authentic. Sharing this small bit about my father has me in tears, smiles and laughter. To live yoga is to be in union with all that you are. Sure the physical practice is important (and one that I still struggle with) however I believe our approach to life, death and difficulty is much more important.
Grieving is not about how one “gets over” a loss or tragedy like so many people are lead to believe. Grieving is about learning how to navigate the world with this gap in your heart. I choose to speak about the people I have lost. Today it’s about my dad. Tomorrow it might be someone else. There is no such thing as “getting over it’ or “just give it time” . These ideas are perpetuated through media as though they are reasonable ways to deal with things. No, they just help the movie plot move along faster.
I believe to take a yogic approach to grieving is to acknowledge that this loss, upset, tragedy or adjustment in life is a part of you. It is now a part of your life story. It is meant to be shared and expressed fully. The act of holding it in is what “screws” us up and keeps us “stuck” in the event. The psychological diagnostic bible (DSM V) discussed including prolonged grief as a mental health disorder. We can thank society for that bullshit.
The definition that helped me a lot as a griever and as a supporter to those in grief is as such :
Grief is the feelings in response to a loss of or end in a familiar pattern of behaviour
Honour your feelings, respect the pain and know that what you are feeling is normal. People forget that we deal with loss, pain, death, life adjustments all too often (there are over 40 different types of loss!). So forget the notion of “getting over it” and find a way to live with it in such a way that you can be free to be who you are. Every grievers path is different and beautiful.
Oh, before I finish up here I should explain that the video clip of Pink Floyd’s Dark side of the Moon compilation is for my dad. I’m pretty sure he had this played at his funeral (he planned his funeral before he died) and this is a quick and easy way for me to show how awesome he was.
So Dad, thank you for your lessons in life and in death. I miss you like crazy every damn day.