I thank all who have personally contacted me and given feedback on my post. The reason for these blogs is to help me to take this journey along the road of grief. Writing has never been my strength but I felt it necessary to document some of what I am experiencing. In this way I hope to help myself and others going along a similar journey. Notice that I used the word similar and not the same. I have come to learn that we all deal with our grief differently yet there are many similarities.
So why title this blog “The Good the Bad and the Awkward”. Well I want to focus this blog on the support structures that I have encountered along this journey so far.
How can any good come out of such a catastrophic loss? I am glad that I am writing this now, 7 months after Yolanda’s passing. Had I written this in the early weeks or months my answer would have been very different. I would have felt angry and frustrated at the concept of any good coming from this loss.
I truly believe that slowly but surely the scales of doom lifted from my eyes at a pace that was right for my grieving journey. Have they lifted fully, no, will they ever lift completely I believe the answer to that is also no. But they will lift at a pace that is right for me.
Out of this experience I have come to better understand and appreciate the importance of a support structure. Without this structure I am not sure I would have been in a position to have started this journey. I probably would still be wallowing at step 1.
The support started well before Yolanda passed away. Her employer also my brother showed much understanding and she was able to continue having a sense of purpose by continuing to work from home. In fact her last day of actively working was 3 days before she passed away. Working on the computer from her hospital bed. He mentioned this in his speech at her memorial service.
With Yolanda’s health confining her to home or hospital there were days where she couldn’t drive to collect our daughters from school. Once again this is where family and friends stepped in to help. My mother,who absolutely adored Yolanda, stepped in with helping out. Fetching girls from school and even taking Yolanda to the shops when needed. Mom I want you to know how much Yolanda appreciated this. She knew you would move mountains for her. Your bond was special. My sister in law Donna also assisted from time to time. She has taken it on herself to volunteer in helping me immensely with transporting my girls around in the afternoon. Donna I want you to know that this is more than transport. Both my girls connect incredibly well with your loving nature and I know that you are an incredible example to both of them.
My mother in law Johanna and sister in law Patsy also continue to be a great help. Each time they have come to stay and help out I have felt like this was a time to recharge my battery and to be better at handling the next steps in this journey.
To Yolanda’s best friends Nicolette and Rene. The fact that you were there for Yolanda before and now after her passing is a huge mark of your immense love for one another. The pain that you feel is a reflection of the depth of your love.
My nephew Jason who went way higher than the call of duty. Your assistance in setting up the memorial service and ensuring it went off beautifully means a lot to me.
The most amazing support that I have received from both of the girls schools has been unbelievable. There are educators out there who go way and beyond earning a salary. To the staff at Weltevreden Park Primary and Randpark High I salute you.
To my sister Sharon. Your understanding and allowing me to express myself without judgement has and is hugely appreciated. I know that Yolanda always appreciated talking to you.
Another extremely important part to all of this was that I recognized I needed some professional help. All the friends, family and work colleagues advice was appreciated but sometimes it is best to speak and deal with a professional who isn’t involved emotionally.
As part of this search I also came across a grief share group. Even though they were Christian based, at this time you can well imagine that God and I weren’t seeing eye to eye, I decided to attend and see how it went. I felt like I instantly gelled with this group. It was people who had gone through a similar journey to mine. You soon realise that loss is loss. There is no way to make comparisons, simply put is that loss is a personal experience. I would highly recommend that anyone experiencing a loss should attend such a group.
Another amazing goodness entered my life at this time. It was a book given to me by Mike and Donna. A grace disguised by Gerry Sitster. A book written by someone who has walked a similar journey. I highly recommend this as a good read. It certainly helped me to broaden my understanding the grief journey.
My employer and work colleagues have also helped me to move along this journey. Without their support and understanding this journey would have been so much harder. I still have a long way to go yet I can say with confidence that we are a team. I really would like to encourage every employer to take the example of Peter Figg, he has built a different business structure where we all operate as a team. We all carry the load and when one of us is weakened then the team picks up this member. In this case it has been me. I am deeply encouraged by this.
I have also been privileged to see the impact Yolanda made on car guards and shop assistants. Whether stopping at our local shops or going to the butchery each of them were genuinely moved on hearing of the passing of this special little lady. Yolanda had a special way of connecting to society’s invisible people. The girls and I try to continue with this.
The biggest and greatest good to come from all of this is the love and support I get from my two beautiful and intelligent daughters. Without them I would not be able to continue. Watching these two girls makes a fathers heart swell with pride. They possess much strength. We talk all the time and are very open with our emotions.
Well the obvious “Bad” is that I have had to experience this catastrophic loss. As much as I try to reason and understand that death and loss will come to all, it certainly doesn’t make it any easier.
I am reminded from time to time that with deep love comes deep pain after such a loss. This pain can be so painful at times I felt like I was about to take my last breath. The pain is so excruciating that it blinded me to seeing the pain of other family members and friends. I apologize to all for having such a narrow vision.
With this pain came an intense anger. With this pain came many questions. With this pain came a feeling of magnified loneliness. With this pain came the Great Depression. This indescribable pain brought with it many dark friends.
This is the time that the support structure is greatly needed. I wish to thank all that saw a need and never hesitated to step in and help. Never waited to be asked but acted out of love. THANK YOU.
Why the awkward? Well it just wouldn’t be right to refer to this next part as “The Ugly”.
Luckily, the pastor who did the memorial service, had warned me about people not always knowing what the right thing to say is. He cautioned not to take offense. I am glad that he shared this insight with me.
When one of Yolanda’s family members said to me “Welcome to the club” I could have so easily lost my sense of humor. I know it was well meant with all of the best intentions however I hadn’t and wasn’t signing up for any club.
The awkward part of retelling the events leading up to Yolanda’s death almost became a stuck recording set on repeat without any emotion. To those who encountered the repeat version I trust that you will understand that I deeply loved Yolanda and still do, it was just a coping mechanism.
When people say “You were lucky to have had Yolanda in your life”. I know once again that they mean well but at this time I wasn’t feeling lucky. I just couldn’t equate pain with be lucky.
Another phrase that I kept hearing was “Time heals”, I would always ask myself , heals what and do I even want to heal. Healing was and is synonymous with forgetting in my destroyed mind. I don’t want to forget.
Finally I wish to say to all that I greatly appreciate your love and support. It has given me the strength to take a step forward each day. I know that this journey is with me for all the days that I breath.
The saying goes “Cowboys don’t cry”. I say that whoever came up with such a saying had never loved and was thus unable to express the pain of loss with tears. I am happy that I have loved and received love that allows me to open the flood gates.