Grieving is always complicated, never easy and tidy. But sometimes there are factors that can make your grief more complicated. In my case, complicated grief is a result of the extended length of time of loss and grieving and the relationships of those losses.
We are closing up my parents house. Last weekend my brother and I went to clear out the last of their “stuff” and load up two u-hauls to bring it all home.
When we finished upstairs, I closed the doors and felt a wave of sadness. Overwhelming sadness at the thought of never sleeping in those rooms again. Never seeing my dad come up to say goodnight to my kids or having my mom comfort a tired grandchild. It pained me to remove the items in their house that were so completely my parents. Those items my brother and I had been looking at since we were kids but now had no idea what to do with them.
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In the garage my dad had built workbenches. He used to do a lot of carpentry work when I was a kid and he even renovated our old farmhouse circa 1882. So now he’s accumulated a lot of carpentry things. A LOT. It was a daunting task when we first started because there was just SO much.
I had a dream a few months ago that my mom told me to just shovel everything on the workbenches into garbage bags. After we picked out the things worth keeping or those things we could donate that’s basically what we did. There was no other way to finish this task, especially when my dad was all over the garage. I just felt the entire time that we were getting rid of HIM. I know we were cleaning it out to sell the house, but with each thing we threw away I felt we were chipping away at my dad.
My dad used old food cans to store his screws in and liked to keep old things that weren’t even necessary anymore. We found glue for model toys that was my brother’s from 2 houses and 25 years ago! There were more lights in that place than one household would ever need. Different light fixtures and clamping lights and flashlights and even stick-on lights.
I have been having a recurring nightmare for about the last six months. It usually starts out fine and pleasant, always taking place at my childhood home – the old farmhouse. One particular dream started out with me looking at recipes in the kitchen of our old house, my dad at the stove cooking something and my mom taking the recipe books away from me before I was finished. Then suddenly cars pulled up, headlights shining through the windows, and some men in black coats and hats get out of the cars. They are there for me. My dad ushers me out the side door and tells me to hurry up and get out of there. This is not always the same scenario but it’s the basic pattern of the dream. I am enjoying some quiet time at the house with my parents then suddenly I am running for my life away from the intruders.
I’m not really sure how one would interpret these dreams, but they are obviously a symptom of my current emotional state. If you have suffered loss, did you experience recurring dreams or nightmares?
As for now, the closing is done, the house is sold. It is no longer part of me. My parents are really gone and it feels as though that wound has been ripped open. Theirs was a home filled with love. So many good memories are in that house. I was very lucky, I know this. So very lucky to have so much love in my life. But I suppose that also makes its absence very painful.