lou walsh, lcpc

30 n. michigan avenue

suite 1516

chicago, illinois 60602

312.514.5689 louwalsh6@aol.com


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Being Left

Whenever I think of the topic of being left by those we love, I find myself humming “My Way”.  My dad did it his way, and his is the example I always circle back to.

Toward the end of my dad’s life, my brother and I tried to expand his diet to include items other than starch, but the man loved his burritos, and suffered three major strokes in one month before finally checking out at 78.  He lived life on his own terms, something I feel proud about, although the circumstance - eating too many burritos - is laughable.  But that was my dad - a charming, funny, burrito-eating rebel. 

By the time he died, I was relieved.  He looked terrible, he appeared to feel terrible (He could no longer communicate) and I prayed for a quick, painless end.  More important, however, I felt that our relationship had reached a completion.  I felt I honestly knew him and that he knew me. 

However accurate or inaccurate this may have been is now a mystery for the ages, but I believe that, as father and daughter, we had experienced a total relationship together.

So many times in our lives, this is not the case, right?  Separation is painful, no matter how much or how little love is involved.  People die before we feel we know them, or we want to keep them with us, whether or not this is their desire.

We all have to go through the stages of denial, anger, bargaining, and ultimately, acceptance.  Some of us insist that we have already learned to accept a change, only to find feelings of anger or denial that rise to the surface at the least convenient of times.

Stages of grief are not rails on a smooth, linear track; rather, they are loops on a roller coaster that keep dipping and turning back to re-examine the meaning of our loss.

Denial comes insidiously.  Years later, I still think to myself, “I should call Dad and tell him what just happened,” and then I realize that it is not possible.  The connection is so strong that I believe in that instant that he is still with me.

Where is the comfort?  Can it be in the idea that love never truly dies?  I believe that now, more than ever.