Looking Beyond the Grief

I watched the movie, A Monster Calls, this evening. I had a general idea of what it would be about but I didn’t know exactly how emotional it would be. It was so emotional, that at one point I had to reign in my anxiety. I was a little shocked at how easily I was able to relate to the movie. I was also a bit embarrassed that a PG-13 movie could have such a strong impact on the emotional state of a 28-year-old. Finally, I was awed at how this movie helped me to look beyond my grief. It helped me to forgive myself a little bit; it helped me to realize that the pain that I’ve been feeling won’t be my new reality.

**Slight spoiler alert — I won’t give a lot of the movie away, but there will be some talk about it below.**

There was one scene in particular that I found to be the most impactful. Connor’s mom was telling him that the cancer treatments weren’t working. Connor was angry. He was so angry that he wouldn’t talk to his mother. Her words to him, paraphrased, were “If, in the future, you look back at this moment and are upset that you were so angry that you couldn’t even talk to me, I want you to know that it’s okay. It’s okay. I know what you want to say and how you feel without you having to say it.” This scene showed the connection between parent and child, the bond, the love. It made me realize that, even if I didn’t take the time to visit my father in the hospital after his surgery, even if I didn’t visit as often as I should have, in my heart I believe he knew how much I loved him and how much he meant to me. This eases some of the guilt I’ve been feeling.

Later in the movie, Connor realizes that he’s going to be okay in the end. Despite the grief that he’s currently feeling, and the grief that he will feel after his mother passes away, he will survive and he will learn to live without her. Life doesn’t stop for anyone, even when your world shatters into a million pieces. I am by no means minimizing anyone’s grief, my own included. I’m a firm believer that someone has to go through the grieving process on their own timeline and everyone has their own ways to grieve. But we must remember that we have to keep waking up in the morning. We have to make it through each day, even if we can only take things one day, one hour, one minute at a time. My father is on my mind almost always, and with it are the feelings to guilt and lack of closure. But I fight every day. I refuse to give up. I refuse to let my grief define me.

In previous posts I’ve talked about being stuck in the anger phase of my grief. I’m still in that phase but I can slowly feel it fading with each day. That’s not to say that there aren’t times when I’m absolutely livid, because there are. But I’m slowly starting to heal. One of the biggest triggers for the anger is when, just for a moment, I forget. I forget that my dad died so suddenly. I forget that life completely changed within a matter of minutes. This mostly happens at work when I’m overwhelmed with multiple things going on at once, but once it hits me again, I get so pissed off. I get angry at myself for forgetting. I get angry at the fact that he’s no longer here. I get angry at the fact that I get so angry all the time. But, with enough time, that anger fades and I’m not as focused on it.

The main point of this post is to tell anyone that is grieving that it’s okay to feel what you’re feeling. But it’s also okay to forgive yourself. It breaks my heart that there are so many moments that my father will miss — the births of future grandchildren, the weddings of all 4 of his kids, birthdays, holidays, etc. These events will not be what they could be without him, but we have to continue living. We have to fight. All that’s left to do is to honor his memory and hope that wherever he is, he’s watching over us all with a huge, shit-eating grin.

Originally published at A Look in the Mirror.