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Thursday, January 16, 2014

In memory of Dad, and Daron.

Some cultures teach that it is better to ignore loss. They have short, emotionless burial services and they do not speak of the dead after they are gone. They return to work immediately and don’t spend any time or energy mourning the loss of their loved one. But here’s the thing. Grief lies in wait. It is very patient, but it doesn’t give up. It will come to you when you let down your guard for a moment, and it will force you to go through the healing process, because you have to. It doesn’t always appear as grief, however. Sometimes it manifests itself as depression, or illness, pain, fatigue or anxiety. That’s why I’m glad we live in a culture where we push ourselves through a few days of a ritual mourning. A wake, a funeral, a celebration of life service. It is perfectly fine to sob openly about the loss of someone you loved. It’s ok to do nothing but walk around in your bathrobe for a few days. And for the next several years, it is absolutely normal to burst into tears when memories surface. We do speak of the dead. That’s how we keep their spirits with us.
There is no way to escape death. It will come into your life eventually. I made it to my 40th year before losing someone close to me, when my father passed away. Everything became surreal for a time, like when you first have a child. You enter a new realm. A club where people share your experience and understand what you are going through. And now life has more depth to it. I appreciate things more. I let things go a little more easily. Death taught me something.
Six years ago, when I lost my dad, I wondered how many years it would take me to stop exploding into tears every time I see his photo or hear his name. I have learned to incorporate his death into my life. To preserve his memory, and to keep his spirit alive, we repeat his favourite sayings (especially the naughty ones) and mention him often. But if I watch him on video, or thumb through a photo album, the floodgates open again. That will likely never change.
We never know how our experiences are going to affect others. I just write my stories every week, as one would a journal entry, but sometimes I hear from readers with their reactions to what I have written. I received an email last week from a reader, that affected me quite deeply, and I will share it here:

Dear Diana: I thought to write you on how much your article meant to a friend of mine and his mother. These friends were Daron and Donna Graves, the mother and son who tragically passed away last winter, when their car went off the Quyon Ferry in Fitzroy Harbour, 100 metres from their house. Their anniversary is coming up on January 17th. After reading this week's article, it really brought back to me how much Daron loved reading your stories every week. Your article was always Daron's favorite, so much that he used to clip your stories out and keep them on the fridge all week until the next one. He would laugh, because he could relate to your stories, as his family had animals too years back. I plan to clip the article I have and leave it with the two roses I'm leaving when we go to pay our respects next week. I just thought you might like to know how much you meant to them as an author without knowing it. It's funny, because every time I read one of your stories now, it brings back a lot of sentimental memories of Daron. And I know he's probably still reading them, just on another plane. I smile when I think of that laugh he used to give when he would read out loud. So I just want to thank you for that. Writing is a powerful expression. ~ Justin.

This week’s Accidental Farmwife is dedicated to Daron, and to my Dad, who have left the world but live on in the hearts of many.

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