Today I stood in the garage with my Dad going through the remnants of my parent’s life. They have been married and together for 54 years from when they were 17 years old. My Dad tears up as he watches my Mum’s picture in what we call ‘Mum’s room’. In every little thing stored in their garage, there is history, stories about all those moments they shared.
I’m dealing with clearing the things he no longer needs or wants. He says: ‘It might be easier for you to throw these things away than for me. Or maybe not?’ He is relieved that he doesn’t have to deal with all the details.
He tells me some of the anecdotes that I might have heard before but I let him tell me again. It’s his processing time. Today on the phone he mentioned that he is good at avoiding, so I figure that I give him as much of this way of processing that he chooses to take on his own choice.
I recall another instant… 6 weeks ago we came to Switzerland and he was with us for the last 3,5 weeks at our old home. On one of the last days, we went to visit Hope’s place, the beach where we scattered our little girl’s ashes. I was surprised at the emotional reaction he had as we stood there quietly at the ocean after our ritual rose petal scattering. Again, processing time.
I’m aware again and again that grief has its own timetable as I’m standing here in ‘Mum’s room’ with my Dad. For him, the most manageable way to deal with my Mum’s suicide was and still is avoiding it. He’s been in a state of shock for the first few months, fully functioning on the outside, seemingly looking and feeling ‘well’ but inside he was probably not fully connected with what had happened. It might have been the best this way. He’s not in denial, just doing what he can.