Yesterday someone said to me that I should be grateful that I had my dad for so long. They went on to tell me that their dad died when he was in his 60's. Although my reacation was seething anger at their assumption that I had not experienced loss before, I knew they didn't know my sister died at 13 and my mom at 64, so I graciously smiled and expressed my sympathy at their loss. I realize that death freaks us out and we never really know what to say to someone who is grieving (by the way, "sorry for your loss" is enough), but most times comparing your loss with someone elses when it is recent, is not really a good idea. Grief is personal and all consuming and while a recent griever appreciates the sympathy, they probably don't care at all about your own experience. Not right now. They will in time and sharing similar losses actually becomes a source of comfort, but initially, not so much.
I am grateful I did have my dad for so long. Very grateful. I am grateful that until about six months ago, he had an active life doing the things he wanted. However, whether he died at 79 or at 99 doesn't change the fact that he is gone and that I am going to grieve for him hard, regardless of his age at the time of his death. The loss of my dad is about so much more for me than just losing him, though. My immediate family consisted of me, my sister Karen and our parents. Karen died as a result of injuries she sustained in a car wreck. My mom died in 1999 at age 64 from Hep C that she contracted through a blood transfusion that she received after losing so much blood from injuries from the same car accident. My dad, as you know just died from lung cancer. That's it. They have all gone on.
While I am certainly grieving the loss of my dad, I am also grieving the loss of my entire family. While my dad was alive, there was someone else on earth who shared memories with me. He remembered when I overfed the guppies that my Mawmaw raised to sell to Woolworth's. He remembered when I won a Kennedy half dollar because I won my first grade spelling bee. He remembered when I dropped the glass of chocolate milk and that milk shot straight up and left a stain on the ceiling in our house that we could never quite get rid of. He remembered that on a drive to Louisville, we had to turn around at E-town to go back home and get Karen's favorite toy, T-Bone. He remembered when our family represented Kentucky in the All American Family Pageant back in the early 70's. He remembered coming to my house to tell me my sister had died. When he died, a big piece of my history went with him. Shared experiences are now gone forever. I can't truly express how sad this is for me. This grief is so much more for me than just grieving for my dad.