Dear Feelings Doctor: I just lost my dad, and it's been the most difficult, heartbreaking chapter in my life. He was 96, my best friend and mentor, and I spent the last two weeks with him, watching him suffer and then drawing his last breath.
Those images and his pain are living memories for me, even though I try to look at the 50-plus years of him in my life and the great times. A part of me wishes I had not been there to see him in pain, but I knew I had to be to help him move onto the next plain.
I am in a quandary and wonder what is coming next on the emotional freight train headed straight at me. How do I deal with losing a loved one, my dad?
— Lost in Santa Barbara
Dear Lost: For a man to lose his father is one of the most challenging, frightening experiences of his life. That said, knowing that you were there for your father through his passing will be a comfort that will guide you through the struggles you are experiencing now.
Be patient with yourself and your emotions, allowing the tears to flow when they show up. This will help you move through the sadness that feels like an emotional freight train right now. Eventually, the heaviness in your heart will be replaced by gentle thoughts and memories of your father. These are the feelings that will hold you strong and keep you going.
Perhaps find other men to talk to and share experiences with regarding your story and the process of expression around your loss.
God bless you, and take comfort in knowing there is the other side of pain and loss that will lead you to the love, honor and wisdom your father handed down to you. These are the memories that will help you carry on.
Dear Feelings Doctor: I am recently divorced, living in a small community, and I’m very depressed and alone. My friends I have had for 15 years, sharing carpools and going to PTA meetings, are not standing by me. They act like they don’t know me anymore, and I feel left out of my entire life that I have built for so long.
I just want to talk and share what I’m going through with my close friends who care about me, and no one will answer their phone. Is everyone that heartless?
— J.B. in S.B.
Dear J.B.: As harsh as this may sound, leave your friends out of this “extremely personal” situation. Call your friends with fun and joy in mind, but leave your private issues for you and a professional to discuss. Nothing is harder than trying to stay neutral when a divorce splits up lives.
Stay strong and positive, remembering why you decided to make this big change to begin with. Happily focus on where you are going, not what you are running away from.
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Imagine This ...
When we are brave and respectful of the natural cycles of life, we find that each of life’s stages has a spiritual dimension. Gratitude leads to love. But not the demanding love, the love of a hunter for his prey. Do not confuse begging love with the generous love that leads to thankfulness. — A.Desjardins