My brother sadly passed away at the age of thirty-nine, two months ago. I am the father of a two-year-old boy. This is my account of experiencing grief whilst raising a child.
I write this, not as a guide, but a view into my insights, learnings and experiences. I do not believe I can tell you what to do or feel, but my hope is that maybe one positive might come out of what has been a very hard time for me.
Raising a baby is hard. Dealing with grief at the same time has been very challenging for me. As much as I love my baby boy, grief has made even the most minor difficulties with him feel like the world is crushing me. Frustration has been high. Guilt over him seeing me cry or feeling too numb to play with him has made me feel even worse.
Fear has kicked in too. What if I die too soon and leave him without a father? What if I haven’t taught him enough or prepared him for the world? What if he doesn’t even remember me? What if I am not doing a good job? What if, what if, what if? I am finding that what ifs are not that helpful.
At times I have resented not being able to grieve in peace and solitude. I do feel terrible about this. I know that a toddler doesn’t understand this, but I want you to know that it’s ok to feel this way. Or to feel whatever it is you are feeling. It is your grief, navigate it in the best way for you.
People will tell you things. I believe it is mostly well intentioned. Be strong. Talk about it. It takes time. How much time? How long does this raw pain and fury last, because this shit is exhausting. Especially when your little one decides that now is the time that their own sleep is something to be avoided at all costs. I try to remember that he is not doing this to make life harder, but I admit is it a struggle.
What have I learnt from this? Be strong if I want to. Be weak if that is what I feel. Talk or don’t. Take time when needed and don’t be afraid to ask for a time out or break if it all gets too much. I know that a break is not always possible with a child, but I have found that just trying to get through a part of the day is somewhat easier, knowing I can fall apart later on.
I can’t say that it is easy or possible to set aside my grief and focus solely on my child. I have tried, but memories and feelings will surface regardless of how icy my waters are. The best I can do and say is that I try and continue to raise my child as best I can, and know that grief is a terribly hard thing to deal with. I am not a superhero and sometimes simply trying is enough, even if I struggle or fail.
I come to the hardest truth, the least helpful insight, yet the unavoidable reality. Sometimes, nothing helps. Distractions do not lessen the pain. Time doesn’t yet heal the wound. Talking does not yield any sense or peace. It simply fucking sucks. All I have is my pain and grief and it will not go away.
Yet, life does and must go on, at least for now. Life for me now is both pain and joy. Pain at never seeing or speaking to my brother again. Joy at seeing my wonderful son becoming the amazing being he is and will be. It is a confusing juxtaposition. It is also what being a human means to me. Good and bad. Happy and sad.
In the end, that is my conclusion. I feel grief and life is hard. I feel joy and life is better. I am trying to take the joy when I feel I can and allow my grief to be a part of me without fighting it when I want to acknowledge the loss I feel.
The last words my brother and I shared were to say I love you, take care. I don’t know if this will help anyone or mean anything to anyone. I can’t say I suddenly feel lighter or better for writing this. I just feel tired. I hope that it will lessen the pain in time.
Until then, I want you to know that I love you, take care.