We all have to cope with the death of a loved one at some time in our lives. Unfortunately it is part of the cycle of life, it is never easy when we are faced with losing someone we love and or care about. When we have to cope with the loss of someone we move into the cycle of grief as we come to terms with the event in our life.
Sadly I lost my Dad at the end of June. He had been ill on and off for the last couple of years and after a short illness he passed peacefully away. I felt a deep feeling of loss but at the same time a sense of release that his illness and stay in hospital was short. He was cheerful up to the end and was even making me laugh a few days before he died.
Dad lived a long and fulfilled life making it to the ripe old age of 88. He was a successful lawyer specializing in criminal law, which saw him engaging with people from all walks of life. I am sure that the way he worked gave me a good grounding on how to engage with people whoever they are and whatever they do.
My Father was not always an easy person especially live with especially in my childhood. He had a larger than life personality and was very charismatic even in later life he could light up a room. During my early life he could be dogmatic, overly protective and lawyer like and you avoided getting into a debate, as he was a brilliant advocate. Despite the weird upbringing he had by his parents overall Dad did a good job, and although he showed his love in strange ways I know that he loved me and cared deeply about his children.
Although my younger life was hard and challenging at times, despite this life was interesting and fun at times with a dad who was funny, a great orator and clever. Dad loved to recite poetry, sections of books and plays, which has given me a life long love of poetry and literature.
It was as an adult that we shared a very close and respectful relationship where we enjoyed interesting discussions and debates about many things. In his twilight years he became such a lovely old man full of character and I treasure the times that he came to stay with me to give my step mum a break.
Our discussions over the last few years have helped me to understand where my heart and passion in life comes from. I realize how passionate my dad was about helping those less fortunate than he. I deeply resented as a child waiting to open my presents on Christmas morning because my Dad was at the local hospital visiting the staff on duty and those unlucky enough to be ill in hospital.
Dad had a deep sense of duty and despite working hard within his law practice he gave a great deal of his time to the community. He believed passionately in the NHS and gave his time voluntarily to the local hospital and eventually became the first non-medical National chair of the Family Practitioner’s Committee. He fought very hard to prevent some of the changes to the NHS in primary care over the years. He was never awarded an M.B.E., as previous and subsequent Chairs had been, because he was not afraid to come out and challenge the Health Minister of the day over policy. When I found this out I was so proud of him as he had stood up for what he believed in and did not compromise for awards.
I can understand why I feel so passionately about things and hate injustice. I have learnt over the years to use this energy wisely as it is easy to become frustrated, angry and unable to move forward in an effective way. Although Dad was never awarded for his community work, he took it on the chin and was happy to know that he put up a good fight and did his best.
Dignity is a great character trait to have and Dad certainly showed the way with some of the knocks he experienced in his life. I learnt a few years ago that he was terrified of flying, as he had crashed his plane in the war. That did not stop him flying and taking his children abroad. Even in his last few days I don’t think any of us realized just how sick he was even at the end of his life he showed such dignity. This is why I titled this blog “Heart Passion Dignity and Death”
I come from a passionate family and that passion can manifest in negative ways. I certainly feel things deeply, rather than shun such a trait I have learnt to harness the passion. When something hits me and is heartfelt this is telling me something. This is where learning mindfulness has been so helpful for me. I can now be aware of the heartache rising or the passion beginning to stir. Like a volcano it can rise up and erupt or I can be aware take note and let it flow by and use the information wisely.
Living in the moment and finding your inner peace will help you to follow your passion and listen to your heart. You will find the way forward, it might not be the way you thought or wanted, however life is strange like that.
Dad did find it hard to say, “I love you”. Through self-reflection and being in the moment, I was able to understand that it was me who was stuck in the rut of what I wanted him to say. When I was able to look from a space of peace and calm I was able to see he did love me but he showed me in his own way.
So often we demand things from life, from others and get stuck in our heads in negative thoughts, wants and needs. When we are locked in our heads we are unable to see what is right in front of our eyes. This is the gift that mindfulness gives to us to see what is there not a distorted picture, but in this moment in the now.