There are some things about life that you can never truly understand until you have experienced them first hand. I’ve always heard people say that grief never goes away, you just get used to living with it. We grieve many losses throughout life. Marriages end, once special friendships fizzle out, jobs are lost, grandparents and pets and school friends die. But we move on. We reflect on those losses and we look fondly upon our pasts that they were a part of and we move on. But this has shaken me so deeply. I believe there will always be a part of me that will never be able to truly move on and let go from the death of my father.

The loss of my father has ripped an enormous hole directly through the center of my being. It’s hard to describe this kind of grief. It is bottomless. It is graceful. It is messy. It is riddled with guilt. It is quiet. It is endless. It is filled with rage. It is a crackling fire buried deep in my stomach where some days I’m sure it will succeed in burning its way through me. My mind knows his body is gone and yet the very same mind refuses to accept his loss.

I never realized how much I thought about my dad until my thoughts of him began to serve as daily reminders that he’s gone. I never knew that I could be destroyed by a loss while also managing to continue living and enjoying my life. I’m fine on the outside, so naturally everyone thinks the grief is finished, but inside I’m a wreck. Life ends and Life goes on, it’s so strange.

Strangely, both my best friend and a coworker lost their fathers within weeks of me losing mine. There’s a strange sense of camaraderie between us. I look at these women and I know what they’ve experienced and I know they know what’s going on inside of me without me having to say so and while I hate to see them in pain too, I breathe a sigh of relief knowing that someone around me knows what it’s like in real time. But I’m angry at the rest of the world and the people in it who, while sympathetic to my loss, remain unaffected by it. I’m not even sure it makes sense. It’s the kind of pain I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy, but at the same time it’s a pain that I wish everyone could comprehend.

I want to go home. I want the comfort of familiarity to somehow dull the pain caused by the chunk of soul ripped from me when he left, but I’m scared that when I get there it will be too different. I’m afraid that my dad’s house won’t smell like my dad anymore. How can going home ever be the same? Is it still home when I’ve lost half of what tied me to the place?

My father’s death has given me a new awareness of life and death and their natures. It has made me consider my own mortality. We think we will die when we get old. Fifty five years seems like a lot of time to live until that’s all that someone has been given and you’re there to witness the end of that allotted time. Death is more present for me now. It is real. Some days it feels just around the corner.

I want to be able to take this experience and use it in a positive way. I want to be able to gain wisdom and to direct my life accordingly in the same way I’ve done so through other painful and seemingly impossible to survive situations. But I’m just not there yet with this. All I have gained for sure is the desire to scream in everyone’s face that they should stop taking their parents for granted.