That day, I was at work. The details of that moment I won’t ever forget. I had just finished teaching a class. The main office had paged me. When I arrived, my then husband was standing there. In the midst of the daily school scurry he delivered the news that my father had died of a heart attack that morning. He was gone.
I had driven a long three hour trip upstate to say my goodbye. Made comfortable with morphine, I doubt my mom knew I was there. I had brought photos of my sons to show her one last time what they looked like. As I examined her with my eyes, the evidence of her illness and her long battle was written everywhere. Her body had diminished to a frail figure, her cheeks sunken in and the color of her skin missing any remnant of glow. I touched her hand and somehow managed to utter,” It’s okay to go.” She had fought long enough. Hours later, she left with grace.
There was no answer when I called his name. It all moved so quickly, yet the details etched in my brain forever. The CPR. The call to 911. Grabbing his items and mine feverishly, once the medics arrived, thinking we were going to the hospital and we would need things there. The police officer approaching me. His words almost a whisper. My screams. And then me begging them to just take him to the hospital so they could bring him back. Reality was, the love of my life, the man I was going to build a future with, was not coming back.
Each relationship and loss is so different. My dad and I had a complicated relationship, not having a last goodbye left me holding the things that should have been said. Watching the health of someone you love steadily decline is gut wrenching. There are no words for those moments of expressing a last goodbye. Attempts to medically revive someone you love is a trauma that will forever be with you. The idea of a future stolen leaves an immeasurable sadness. And then, for people like me, who have suffered successive losses, grief is compounded.
For those that haven’t lost a loved one, my heart is happy for you. For those that have, we share a bond that only those left behind can truly understand. No matter which, it is ever important to approach the grief stricken without expectations or judgment but rather a willingness to walk beside them on their path and allow them to travel it their way.
Kim Libertini is all too familiar with grief and the Co-Founder of Goodgrief App, the social network for loss available for less than a latte, for download in the App Store, Google Play and www.goodgriefapp.com. You can follow Goodgrief App on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.