By Jude Vereyken, LMSW
It is hard to imagine that anything good can possibly come from having to grieve the loss of someone you love, but I am learning from my own experience that in fact much good is resulting through it. My father died this past October very unexpectedly. Several years ago, as my parents grew older, I began to consider the ugly fact that their time here on earth was growing more limited. Those thoughts often provoked fear and uncertainty about what it would be like to lose either one of them.
I found it interesting a few weeks after my father’s death to realize that I could endure it. The anticipation was in an odd way worse than the actual reality. I could not imagine what it would be like to lose a parent. Now I know. I am surviving it, and this in a strange way was a comforting relief for me. A good one too!
I am challenged in my life with control issues. In my defense, I will say that I come by it naturally. I grew up in a family system where controlling behaviors were displayed by the adults around me. These behaviors had to be dealt with and often created emotional pain and distress. Over time, it influenced my own behavior. I’ve hated confronting my own issues with control—the “want” of it, the “hanging on to it” of it, the “not letting it go” of it. I, of course, never wanted to end up acting this way either. So, working on these areas has been part of my own life journey.
I’ve been rather amazed how through my grief work and letting go of my father’s life, I seem to be gaining a stronger sense of allowing what is to be as it is. I never would have imagined this valuable lesson possible when I received the phone call about my dad. In that moment after the call I said out loud: I never wanted this to happen but I guess I don’t have a choice. That very moment was the beginning of my journey of how to live life without clinging to the false idea that I somehow can have or need control. Death is the ultimate end. There is no coming back. I can’t change that fact. Facing this is freeing me. Who would have thought so much good could shine through grief—certainly not me!
What good is coming through your grief work?
Jude Vereyken, LMSW has over 22 years of clinical social work practice in the Holland community. She has been at the Pine Rest Holland Clinic since 2003.