It was the anniversary of my dear Dad’s passing this week, it’s been 8 years, and whilst the intensity of grief and loss has passed from those painful early years, the sadness from the absence of his presence in my life remains. Even though 22 Oct is the anniversary of his death, I lost him quite some time before to Alzheimer’s and watched as this beautiful man and Dad gradually disappeared in front of me.
I have one special memory however that I always hold dear particularly on his ‘remembrance day’. Dad had been in care for a good 18mths or so and had little recognition or awareness of who he was or where he was; on this day, I was waiting in reception of the closed high care ward and a nurse brought my Dad back from having a haircut. He got through the door looked over to where I was standing and said in a big voice “You! It’s you!” he shuffled over put his arms around me and said “oh I do love you”…and then he was gone again. That was the last time my Dad recognised me; I always consider it such a gift that I got one more ‘I do love you’… on some level his recognition of me awakened and we both in that moment experienced deep joy – and that’s how I choose to remember my Dad, with joyful love.
I admit I miss being able to share my life and love with him, I miss his smile, I miss sense of humour and his ‘Dad jokes’. One thing I dearly miss is no longer being able to be held and embraced in his tender hug where I would be able to place my ear upon his chest and listen to the steady beat of his heart. You see my Dad had a pacemaker put in after his 6 by-pass surgery and this pacemaker meant it kept his heart at 72 steady beats a minute and this consistent rhythm would soothe my frazzled nerves and help me step back into my calm as storms raged around and within me. My Dad grounded me and I miss this most of all as I endeavour to live in a world that quite often overwhelms me.
Each anniversary day, for both my Mum and my Dad, I go to the beach with 3 helium-filled balloons and I think about our shared lives, flashbacks to fun times as a kid, talk times through my teenage years and recovery and laughter through my adult years and I give thanks for all the love and time we shared; then I simply say thank you and let the balloons go along with my love and gratitude for my Dad.
“Rituals raise resilience by empowering us with the strength to continue when times are tough” -Robbi Mack-
I use rituals and routines to build my resilience when it comes to implementing ‘extreme care’ into my life; rituals help bring me back into balance so I can go back into the world again. When I worked as a clown doctor I built a toolkit of rituals to build resilience which you can find here. You can apply these rituals in your personal life and work. Dr Sven Hansen from the Resilience Institute has some other great suggestions in his article on ‘Hope or Habit’
What small routines or regular rituals would you be able to create to help you through tough times and raise your resilience so you can bring your greatest self to the world?
Hearts and hugs,