Today marks the 1 year anniversary of my Grandad Mac dying. He lived to the mighty age of 99 years and 2 months old. Today i had a choice. I could wake up and only focus on the heartache and pain from missing him and once again get dragged down into that dark pit of sadness. Or I could wake up and make friends with the grief, in order to feel more than the sadness I already know.
Now that may seem like a weird thing to say. Just how can we make friends with an emotion that comes from loss and despair? Well that is because although we cant stop the nagging pain from the gap they left in our lives, we can choose how we respond to it.
So, instead of waking up and just crying being over powered by grief and all the sadness it brings. I decided I’d make friends with the grief, identifying it as ignoring it doesn’t work and acknowledge the way it makes me feel. Then i decided to use these raging emotions and tame them into something that promotes comfort and showers the despair of grief with love and soothing memories.
An output for the grief for me, is writing. There was so much I had inside that i wanted to write about Grandad today, that no facebook status or tweet could capture or satisfy. So instead i found myself writing away and in the end I created this poem:
A Toast to Grandad;
Here is to his smile, his loving eyes and even his frown. His uncontrollable burst of laughter when he thought you’d done something, that to him was as funny as a clown.
When you were down, his ability to lift your spirits to 100 feet tall. Not forgetting his loving touch of a individual nickname for us all.
For all his stories, his tales and his amazing memory oh so clear. The love in his voice when talking about Ireland, the home he held so dear.
Although he experienced hardships as a young man and as a boy, He was determined to live out life with laughter and with joy.
Here’s to his songs, the folk tales and to all his memorised pose. Not forgetting the tunes he would hum, to get everyone tapping their toes.
Here’s to his advice, knowledge and opinions, he was happy to lend. For his carpentary masterpieces and the clever ways he knew how to mend.
Here’s to the hugs, kisses and handshakes, when you’d great him in his chair. He’d amaze you with seeming youthful and not just for the 99th year of a full head of hair.
For his humour and banter that stayed throughout ill health. Not forgetting all his life accomplishments, through hard work and stealth.
The cheeky grin on his face when he knew he’d got a rise. But it was in a loving jest, that the knot around you was tied.
For his soft love and his hard love – either way there’s never a doubt, that he loved all of his family, by an immeasurable amount.
He held each of us dear for our own individual ways, That reciprocated love is what means,in our hearts he always stays.
He left us all making the promise, that as a family we’d stay close. So thank you for joining me, in making the legend this toast.
I also looked through old pictures and used some of them to make a collage, merging images of Grandad throughout the years all together was somehow therapeutic. Again the driver for doing this was grief, but the outcome of creating something from it, gave me a dose of comfort, a warm smile and a hug for my hurting heart.
So, remember we always have a choice. Im not saying to ignore grief, as its a powerful emotion that I know personally can take you to some very low and dark places. It needs to be dealt with and acknowledged for all the things it stirs up in us. Some may even need professional help from a councillor to do this, which again I personally know can help you through the forest of despair and loss.
But after this. it is a powerful choice to then make friends with grief and use it to create something of comfort and a reflection of love for the lost. For me that was writing a poem, creating photo collages and writing this blog. For you that may be scanning in old photos, singing songs they used to sing, making a toast with their favourite drink, making their favourite food for dinner, making a memory box, visiting a special place or sharing stories about them with others.
Whatever ways you deal with anniversaries of loved ones passing or the day to day gap they left in your daily living, I hope and pray that part of your process can be making friends with grief and therefore have the capacity to not only cry sad tears but also to then feed that friendship love, comfort and happy memories.
May all our friendships with grief blossom to radiate the love we feel for the ones we mourn!
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