My dear Farfar, (the Norwegian Grandad). His name was Thor.
He passed away on Saturday morning, at 12.30pm in Norway. Peaceful and calm. I just found out yesterday eve. The cut of contact with my sister and family seemed to have prevented the message getting to me sooner.
I am devastated. I am numb. I am disconnected. I am dissociated.
Until I force my eyes deep inside and connect with the pain. And then I sob.
And yet I had known this day would happen. He would go before I had the chance to say goodbye. Before I got a chance to explain why I had not visited him or been in touch – I was ill. I had chronic fatigue. And then I was en route to a breakdown, and then it happened, and this whole time, family was something I could not connect with. It was too raw and close to home. I just crossed my fingers that he knew. But he knew no facts about that side of my life. I crossed my fingers that the time it felt ready to write to him and explain, he would still be alive. But he no longer is.
This photograph was taken the last time we were together. January 2009. Norway.
Farfar, I am sorry. I loved you with all my heart. You were the only family member on my fathers side that I truly felt connected with and I loved you like words cannot describe. You were the most incredible man I have ever known. And from the minute I hung up the phone from my sister, I felt you right there. I felt you closer than I have ever done before. And that stayed with me for the rest of the eve. The clouds were stormy and magnificent in the nights sky. My walk home was fluttered with sobs of you. Sobs for you. Sobs for me. Sobs for us both. Sobs for this thing called life and how it plans out. Sobs for the inability to feel able to come to the funeral. The sobs for where I am at emotionally. Sobs for not feeling able to cope with ‘pulling myself together’ and flying over to say goodbye.
This will be a sob I will never know whether it is okay to have done. To miss the funeral. But beneath that sob, is another sob – a sob of understanding. A sob of forgiveness for myself. A sob of compassion for the fact that I cannot, for the first time in my life, feel able to deal with going there. Not because I don’t want to. Not because I can’t be bothered. It could not be more opposite. This sob is a sob of realisation about the PTSD and the anxiety, and my current state. It is a determined sob that shows me I need to get through this time. Never ever would I think that I would miss my dear Grandfathers funeral, just because I am in the midst of such struggle. Never ever would I not go to it because I am worried about the aftereffect because of my fragility and PTSD, and trigger of family. Let alone the whole package of anxiety I would be facing and overcoming by trying to even begin the journey by stepping foot on a train. But are these just excuses? Are these self sabbotage excuses at their best? But is this struggle enough to prevent me from going? I just want someone to tell me it really is okay to not go, if it is going to be so intense emotionally. But will the regret afterwards be more intense and more destructive? That is something a sob will never bring an answer for. It will only bring a gentle heal.
Grief of this kind is unfamiliar. Because all the time in my life I have felt grief before, I have been in such a numb survival state of coping with the rest of what life was throwing my way, I did not know that you could feel the pain and actually let it be there. So I think this numbing, this shut-down, is a sign of health because I am connected to the pain. Yet I don’t know what to do with it. How do you grieve? How do you know you are honouring the person as much as you can? How do you know you will not regret how you dealt with it at the time?
This is only brief as I have to go. I have chosen to go to work today, to my friends garden, to bring a source of grounding to this time. But I will write more later and share the story, share the pain, share the memories, and share the now. I long to feel awake and open to the pain and not fearful of the dissociation and numbness it has left me swimming in. I am tired. I am exhausted. And this just feels like the final straw in the cup of life’s botched up milkshake. And it’s left me slurping and sleepy and unable.