Grief, and life, in all it’s forms.

black and white photo of roses, with one red rose

Been having to say to family and friends - I know I look ok, but I just need you to know, I’m not.

I've never been a very openly emotional person I suppose. 

I’m more likely to crack a joke than a tear. 

Sadly that’s partly because I learned that crying was a weakness - my anger will often spill out of my eyes as tears, rather than from my mouth as words. A very common occurrence, particularly for women I believe. Maybe also the empath and the introvert in me, as I can’t bear the thought of blurting something out in anger that I then can’t ever take back.

I didn’t learn it at home - it was learned at work. As a senior manager in very male-dominated environments, when I was close to losing my s*%t with anyone, I’d end up walking away from the situation, as the tears would well up, and I would see the smirks of assumed victory, and have to take an even deeper breath, to stop me going back and saying ALL OF THE THINGS😤!

And it’s also partly because I don’t like to put my emotions out for public consumption - my introverted personality prefers to process complex emotions over a long period of time - very gently, and in private. Sometimes I might want to talk endlessly about it to my trusted inner circle to help me process my feelings, and other times you might have no idea anything out of the ordinary was going on for me.

My Dad died very suddenly in November 2022. 

I had to check todays date to know how long it’s been, as I have lost all concept of time. That’s been the biggest sign for me that everything is not ok. 

And it was at a time of year when every possible school event was on. We had lots of social events booked to go to before we made our big trip back home (the trip home that was already planned before Dad died, after FIVE long years of not being back). We live on literally the other side of the world, just one country away from the furthest we could actually be from most of our family. 

When we left 11 years ago, we said we’d visit every 3 years, and we did - but then 2020 happened - thanks COVID. So this was it, two years later than intended - Christmas with the family.  

Which we still had, but now with an empty seat at the table. 

It’s got me reflecting on his life, a lot. 

musical instruments, with a blue filter

I can’t presume to know exactly who he was, but I did always wonder if he was as introverted as me (and my sister). He loved to socialise, and meet new and interesting people, but he would often retreat in solitude for days on end, only appearing for meals. As a musician, he would practice whatever instrument was his focus at the time (my favourite to hear him play was always classical guitar) for hours. And even his work would often be solitary, or maybe one other person. 

But I don’t think he ever thought of himself as introverted. In fact I think he (as I have often, in the past) didn’t feel understood by the world. Which he often wasn’t. He didn’t aspire to financial riches, a trait he shared with my mum, and one which has become more apparent in my own life. 

He loved the outdoors, and was able to spend a great part of his working life outside. 

I’m sure there were many times in the freezing cold, torrential rain, or clouds of midgies in the Scottish Highlands, that he wished he had a cosy inside job, but the outdoors was where he loved to be, enjoying the natural beauty of the world (even though it includes midgies.. I’ve never figured out what their purpose is in the world and its ecosystem.. I’m sure there’s a reason other than ‘to bite people and make them really, really itchy’…🤔)

We can often get caught up in the expectations of others, instead of doing what we really love.

My dad really loved the outdoors, music, ‘characters’ (interesting people) and books. He made choices in his life that allowed him to enjoy those things, although sometimes that wasn’t what others ‘expected’ or wanted him to do. 

I think I aspire to something in the middle.

A way to enjoy the things I love, and be surrounded by others who want the same. We don’t need to love the same things, just have a mutual appreciation of being around others who will encourage us to do the things we enjoy, and to not get caught up in the expectations of the world. 

I’m glad he loved his life. I have a newfound appreciation for his outlook on the world, and on life. 

And that’s brought me lots of comfort, in my quiet, introverted grief. 


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