When you lose someone you love, grief shows itself in so many ways. When we lost Dougie, my father in law, before Christmas 2021, it was very sad and yet we knew it was his choice.
Dougie, who was 79 at the time of his passing, had vascular dementia, many physical ailments and over the last two years his world had become smaller and smaller. He was less and less physically and mentally able. Given his wife, Lettie, had passed suddenly in 2019, there’s no doubt his zest for life had gone. It was clear to all of us in our family that the only way for him was downhill and when that final chest infection came we knew it was his way of making his own choice. He refused medication and the medics opted for palliative care only.
Regardless of those circumstances, here was a man who had led a full and active life for 77 years and that’s to be celebrated and honoured. We are all blessed to have been related to and to have known him. In my case, my father died when I was just a year into my relationship with my husband, so Dougie was the closest person I had as a ‘dad’ for the last 24 years. Losing him is like having a hole shot into the middle of our family and it will take a lot of healing.
Many of you will be familiar with what I’m saying here. Grief is a process, a movement, different for every family member, where we start to accept a massive change that we have to assimilate into our lives.
One thing which I have noticed when grief visits is that ‘kindness’ during those key moments is amplified. It is remembered and valued by those moving through grief — just as the opposite is remembered too.
It would be great if we could all remember that when we deal with someone who has suffered a recent loss, and to show as much kindness as we can muster. We have no idea how their journey through grief is going, will go and kindness definitely makes it easier, if only for a moment.
Grief is not always obvious. Not every one is weeping and wailing all of the time. They might be very quiet, they might have a very short fuse — recognising it is a skill.