The last time you read my story was during the 2021 festive holidays. It was my first Christmas without my father after his death. I can’t believe that it has been one year since he passed away. The first month of my grieving journey was really hard for me to come to terms with everything. However, I was very fortunate to have a remarkable grief counsellor reach out and offer her services. She helped me deal with all my emotions around the loss of my father. She worked with me on how to process all my emotions, negative and positive. It was also a helpful process for my sons.

After a few weekly sessions with her, I was able to pick myself up and be there for and with my sons through the grieving process. The reality is that when we grieve, the world stops for no one. Life goes on. The grief counselling proved very important for my sons because they too were greatly impacted by the loss of the only grandparent who was constantly present in their lives. The loss of my father also showed up in my teen’s school work and we had to work together to push through it. 

Dealing with grief through other people’s stories
I must also add that what really made me open to the idea of grief counselling was my grief counsellor sharing her story with me. Years ago, she said that she lost her father and she spent a year in bed in great sorrow. She said that getting up to brush her teeth was a great effort. In the process of it, she lost her marriage. She and her husband divorced. She eventually had enough of watching her world fall apart and decided to pick herself up not only for her sake but her son’s too.

She committed to her healing journey by seeking help. She later felt motivated and called to help others who find themselves in a similar situation. I learned from her that time doesn’t heal, us but the tools that we use to apply on our healing journey, that eventually help us through the seven stages of healing. These seven stages are shock, denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance, hope, and processing grief.

Processing it all and moving forward
Loss is not just the loss of a loved one. It comes in different forms. I’ve lost many loved ones over the years and what I know for sure is that you never get over the loss of a loved one. You learn to accept their death and the healing journey continues until we too die. Whether we like to hear it or not, we’re all going to die. The when and the how is unknown but our time will come. Life is life and death is death so we need to make the most of our time on earth the best way we know how.

The tools that have really helped me through my healing journey over the past year after the loss of my father have been sharing stories about him with my sons, listening to his favourite music artist– good old Bob Marley, journaling my feelings, praying, and breathing silent meditations. One of our neighbours from back home told me very early on when she learned of his death that my father loved me very much and he wouldn’t want me to suffer too long. I hang onto her words throughout my healing journey and it has ushered me into a sense of renewal.

Though I’ve been feeling pressure to organize a gathering for his ‘one year’ memorial, I’ve let go and let God. I’ve decided that I’m going to keep it intimate with my sons as we’ve carried each other through. We’ll visit his graveside and then we’ll spend a weekend getaway at a beach in the Eastern Cape. The Eastern Cape is an auspicious location for us because this is where his mother, my grandmother, who loved him and whom he equally loved so dearly is from. My father is gone but not forgotten. The memories of his life are still living on in and amongst us.