In the second part of our Grief Blog, Phoebe Young talks about about the gift of human connection and remembering those shared experiences and values.
This is not the End
How lucky are we as human beings to experience the emotion of connection. We walk through life every day and we are never fully aware of the gift we all naturally are blessed to have. The gift of human connection. This about our family relationships, and friendships. We never take the time to fully breathe in the magnitude and the power of these relationships. Think about the feeling you get when you hug a friend, think about that feeling you get when you laugh with those you love, think about all those amazing bright and beautiful emotions we are so lucky to feel, the connection, the gift. We are luckier than we know.
When I was pregnant with my first child Leo, my Dad was diagnosed with his cancer. I remember when we were told, feeling within that moment that my world was crumbling from beneath me. My Dad had always been my strength, but without him, I knew that fiery, brave part of me would be mine to hold as an individual, I would not have him there to fuel that power. My Dad had always been my teacher. He’d taught me how to do the typical Dad things, ride a bike, snorkel in the sea, peel a prawn (life skill) but aside of those he’d given me so many tools to help me connect with others, connect with the universe, he’d opened my eyes up to the power of love and what that can achieve. His cookery school “Heart Kitchen” was evidence of the immense power love has when used in that environment. I was so grateful for all he had taught me. We sat around our big oak table at our family home Keepers Cottage as Dad shared the news of his cancer. I don’t remember much from when we all spoke apart from the most powerful sentence my dad has most likely ever said to me and my family which was this….
“Please don’t worry, I don’t want this to consume you as I’m not letting it consume me. We should not project anger to my cancer, if we do that we are only making it stronger, it will feed from our negativity. I want us to send it love, feed it only the good stuff, that’s our best chance. So look at me now, and hear this, I am NOT going anywhere right now, this is not the end.”
My Dad had not always been such a positive person. Like many of you, he had some real low points. He struggled for many years with the acceptance of love. There were times in his life that were painful to remember and he let that pain consume him at times, he let it control a lot in his life. And to be honest with you, I don’t think he was even aware of that until he started a process with someone, who helped him to heal those “damaged” parts himself by opening everything up, exposing it all and dealing with it. I’m thankful for this teaching in my Dad’s life as it enabled him to move forward, to embrace life. Until then I don’t believe he ever really looked at life and saw how truly and deeply blessed he was, knowing this allowed him to become who he was, it allowed him to enjoy life, love life and cherish life. Knowing this had prepared him for the next chapter he was about to begin.
The braveness that shone from my Dad’s face, the determination, he was ready to dive deep into this next chapter, I was so proud of him. I went home that evening knowing that there was a chance that my Dad and my new baby might not ever get to meet. I felt so many different emotions that night, I felt a deep sickening sadness, a knot so strong inside my stomach that its presence felt painful. I felt anxious, I suddenly realised that I, as an adult, had depended a lot on my Dad for many things, and the fact that could be taken away from me at the most important time was something I could not physically process. I felt a heavy sadness for my Dad, I knew he was ready to walk this path, but I also knew how scared he would be. He was the pillar of our family and that was a big weight on his shoulders. I went back and forth over how to handle all this, what was best for my Dad, for me, for my family and for the baby I was carrying. All I could feel was one thing, and that was that I was so lucky to have my Dad, I had an immense amount of gratitude for him, I knew how truly blessed I was to be sharing life with him and this happening to us, at this time, had never made it more clear.
My Dad was right, and it wasn’t the end for him. He embraced 3 years living with cancer and he completely threw himself in 100% until the very end. When I look back to this time now I realise how blessed we all were. Yes, my Dad had cancer but we truly were lucky in so many ways. Not only did my Dad get to meet Leo, he also got to spend 3 beautiful years with him, and also meet his second Grandchild Gabriel just before he passed away. Another blessing was the timing of everything. We were gifted with so many beautiful changes and new chapters that my Dad got to be a part of. These chapters gave my Dad a new drive, a new power. Every time something was on the horizon he’d used that as his fuel to get him there. He did not want to miss a thing.
I’ve learned so many things from my Dad, and I can now see so many gifts that I’ve been left with even now he is not here. That’s something I never thought would come, but it has. I know now how important it is to be connected to one another, to love one another. To notice the simple things, those moments of laughter, those hugs. You realise how valuable these simple things are when someone who you shared those moments with so often is no longer here. We are so very lucky, feel the overwhelming gratitude and love. I know that the gift I was given to share a life with my Dad has finished for this chapter, but it is not the end. x
In the next part, Phoebe will be sharing her thoughts on coping with another death and revisiting your emotions.