Grieving Without A Grave

I  wrote this post on my first Father’s Day without my Dad. Some might call it masochistic, I simply call it writing from the heart. It’s impacting me, maybe it impacts you, too, so let’s discuss it.

The strange thing was that I didn’t feel particularly sad. Sure, I didn’t feel elated, I just didn’t particularly… feel. My husband, bless him, did all he could to make the day as normal as possible. He suggested I observe a 48 hour Facebook hiatus, organised a separate tome to give his Dad his card and gift and left it at that. No corny observations, no obligtory phonecalls, nothing.

The really hard part about grieving without a grave is that there is nowhere that you can be. Nowhere that you can be alone to remember, nowhere that you can go to grieve, nothing. You can be fine one moment, and the next, grief hits you like a wall. I have cried on the loo, I have cried over a chicken and bacon sandwich (my Dad didn’t even eat bacon in about 20 years) and I have cried in front of the TV. You have no choice, no say when it will hit you, it just does.

Then there are occasions like Father’s Day, where there is nowhere to take a card or flowers. You see? For my grandfather, it’s somewhat simpler. His ashes were interred on my uncle’s grave and there is a memorial tablet commemorating the fact that he existed, so if we want to take flowers to remember him, there is a place. For my father, he wanted his ashes interred at sea, and seas are vast, so there will be no such designated place.

So what can you do when there is nowhere to go? For me, there are three choices.

First of all, you could go somewhere special to that person. For me, that’s slightly different as my Dad gave me a shed from his allotment. In an odd way, it smells like him and it’s where I go to talk to him. For you, it might be a beach, a park or a coffee shop. Wherever it is, know that that’s okay.

Secondly, you might want to do something that they enjoyed doing. My Dad loved his Cosmos, so for me, tending to the Cosmos that I grew especially in his memory brings me closer to him. He also loved DIY, so I’ve been thinking about building a shrine in the shed to help me remember him. You might also want to watch a favourite movie, sing a favourite song or do a favourite hobby, like gardening, fishing or knitting.

Finally, you might want to cook a favourite meal. My Dad loved spaghetti bolognese, so now, that’s a dish that I associate with him. He also used to make chocolate cakes with thick layers of chocolate coating on the top and sprinkled heavily in hundreds and thousands which we called “Jazzie cake”, after the sweet. Share it as a family in memory of the person or enjoy it alone, do whatever it takes to help you remember them and feel a bit better during this painful time.

These are just some of the things that I have found to help me cope with my grief, and particularly, my grief without a grave. I hope that wherever you are, they inspire you to find ways to reconnect with lost loved ones and find ways to celebrate them, too.

Sending hugs during this hard time,

Helen xx

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