Grief is a touchy subject for most of us who have lost a significant figure in their life. For me, Father's Day has been a hard day for me to celebrate . I have to say before becoming a therapist, I myself had to overcome what we call grief. As a young teenager girl , I never imagined losing my father a year before my graduation. My father,Roderick Ferguson,was very big on education and early on made the decision for me to go to college. I envisioned him watching me get my high school diploma and eventually go to college, but soon that all changed.Later, I lost another significant father figure, my grandfather. "Pop pop" played a key role in my life in which he always motivated me to work hard. Both of my fathers figures had very resilient lives full of ups and downs, but successful in their own way. In order to overcome my grief, I had to overcome many different barriers to eventually cope with my losses.
Years ago, I looked up ways to overcome grief and wrote a "Letter to Grief" which is a common therapeutic practice used in grief counseling in which you write your thoughts and feelings towards those you have lost.
I penned my open love letter to my two fathers.
Dear Roderick and Johnny,
I was in denial for a long time -thinking to myself this is not true
I lost both of you to an illness that ran it's course
Anger became a common thing, but I was so resentful
I asked myself What if? What if i got another chance to hear your voice? To hug you, to tell you I love you
Imagine going through life with what if's knowing they won't happen I start contemplating with myself over and over again until I felt grief overpower me Who knew the next years would be so confusing without you.. There came a day what if's turn into happy memories I once had Our last dance at my sweet 16 where you told everyone how great of a daughter I was Our last talk before I left for college when you told me I'm going to be a leader for the next generation Those lasting memories are all I have left of you but I how do I move forward? I believe moving forward is what you wanted for me I channeled that anger into resiliency to help me overcome my grief.
Resiliency became my superpower which led me to acceptance of losing you I will never fully accept that your gone,but I am coping with it better. My love letter to you is : THANK YOU FOR BEING A FATHER TO ME. I wouldn't be here without you, I wouldn't have gotten where I am without you and I wouldn't be the woman I am today without you
Little did I know as a little girl, I went through these exact stages. Their are seven common stages of Grief that one goes through.
-Shock is focusing on hearing the immediate news of the loss
-Denial is common when we make statements like "This is not true" "I am going to call to make sure this is a lie."
-Anger is usually a "masking" emotion- it represents resentment, confusion, or hurt.
-Bargaining is prevalent in the "what ifs" and the "if only" statements you may ask yourself.
-Depression is a common stage people get caught in. They often contemplate "What is my life without them?". They may become quiet, isolated and be less motivated than before.
-Testing is the beginning stages to help reconstruct your life.
-Acceptance helps you have hope to move forward and to have new possibilities for the future.
If you are feeling grief today, Please practice self-care. I will be spending some well needed quality time with myself and reflect on the memories I have with my two fathers,