Two years. Twenty four months.
Depending on what it refers to, that can be a really long or a really short amount of time.
On one hand, it feels like much longer than that since Dad died.
On the other, it feels like yesterday.
There haven’t been many days since then that I haven’t thought about him.
Often more than once.
Sometime its just a passing thought, other times I close my eyes and relive and remember every moment of the last 3 days we had with him.
I saw a picture the other day which really resonated with me.
It showed a number of jars. In the top row, the jars were all the same size, and the black balls inside (which represented grief) got progressively smaller.
The idea was that over time, the grief you feel fo the loss of someone gets smaller and smaller.
The second row showed the black balls all staying the same size, but the jars grew in size. This represented the grief staying the same, but your capacity to deal with it as you grow as a person over time increases.
People are often keen to assure you that you will ‘get over’ grief. They have the very best of intentions, but I’ve found that the reality is far more like the second row of jars than the first.
In my experience, I would take the analogy a little further. It is a little too simplistic. There is no doubt the grief stays the same size. Over time, the jars grow and the influence that the grief has on you lessens.
The thing is that sometimes things happen to break the jar. Sometimes it happens when you expect it (dates like birthdays, death dates and fathers day). Other times the break comes right out of left field. It could be a song that does it. It might be a TV programme.
Either way, the glass breaks and the grief is exposed.
It takes time to remake the protection. Each time, the jar is bigger, the glass just a little thicker in an effort to protect the grief and hold it inside.
In spite of the the upheaval of the last year, where getting from one day to the next has been something of a struggle, perhaps it is no great surprise that there have been more jars broken that may be ‘normal’.
Tiredness is a major factor in finding cracks that often become catastrophic breaks.
The truth is that the pandemic has resulted in far more people having glass jars filled with balls of greif in their lives. Many of us are tired as a result of our worlds being turned upside down over the last year. Jars will break at a moments notice.
We need to find ways to support those who are feeling exposed. To stand by them and allow them to remake the jar that is going to protect them.
Assure them that it is OK to feel grief. Allow them to mourn. Accept that time will pass, but its the jars that get bigger, not the contents.
I find that allowing myself to cry a little (sometimes a lot) helps. I also love to read things that others have written about Dad. It can feel like you are the only one experiencing the loss. It helps (even though it is painful) to read how much others loved and appreciated him.
Today, my jar is broken. But I will find another, with thicker walls, to hold on to the way I feel a little longer – at least until Fathers day.