The Sound of Silence


I had never lost anyone close to me before I lost my father this summer.  All four of my grandparents are gone, but those losses, while difficult, made sense – seemingly part of the journey of life. This journey has not had such a clear path to follow.

My dad was not a religious man and asked for a service by the water – his water – and of course we honored that wish.  Part of honoring that, however, meant my brother, sister and I planning and carrying out the service and the “after party.”  We worked non-stop to put it all together in one short week – talking to caterers, renting a tent and chairs, making programs, putting together music and a slideshow.  We each wrote and shared our thoughts, memories, and love to honor him that day.  Friends and family gathered to remember him and honor him.  We ate, drank, laughed, hugged, cried…. but then the sun began to set, people departed for their homes, and the day ended.

After that day, life seemed to just go on for everyone like nothing ever happened.  People still woke up in the morning, brushed their teeth, went to work.  Kids got on the bus for school for their first day that following Monday.  The talking heads on TV kept on talking.  My kids still needed to eat, play, be put to bed. Didn’t they know my dad just died?  Didn’t they know that everything had just changed? Why were they acting so, well, normal?  Those around me didn’t even mention my dad or ask how I was doing.  The few times I mentioned him to my husband’s family, who was in town the following week, I received blank, uncomfortable stares.

I wonder if that is how it all ends for everyone.  For 67 years my dad touched people’s lives as a son, brother, sailor, husband, teacher, parent, friend…and then, in one short afternoon, everyone honors him like he meant the world to them.  And, then, nothing.  I find it disheartening to think that it is so easy to go on with our lives after such a loss.  But we have no choice but to go on – and, besides, I really am not sure what I am supposed to be doing to continue to honor his memory.  I do know that I want to know that others are still thinking of him and missing him too.  I just don’t think grieving should be such a lonely, solo journey.

Loss and grieving a parent are uncharted waters that, at least in my life, no one had talked about. This journey has, of course, been sad but I also find it confusing, daunting, and lonely.  How is it that something that happens to everyone is so enigmatic?  I am saddened by the loss but also by how our society deals with loss.  I wonder if it would be different if I were a bit older and my peers had similar experiences that enabled them to know how to offer more support.  My parents peers were, without a doubt, the ones who offered more comforting words and reached out to me more than my own peers. Even still, I feel there is a silence – one that is even more remarkable given how “loud” all of his friends and family were the day of the service.

Maybe grief is a silent journey — we all do grieve in our own way and on our own timeline — but I am grasping for something more to hang onto so my dad’s memory is not tucked away so easily.  Other’s memories of my dad mean so much to me – remember this the next time you talk to someone who has lost someone close to them – share a favorite memory of that person with them.  Break the silence of loss.


10 thoughts on “The Sound of Silence

  1. Your post came into my email this morning – the boys were finishing breakfast and we had in front of us the crazy mad dash to the bus. I sat in front of my computer and cried for you, for your father, and for my father as well. Then I had to pull it all together until I had a moment to pause and read your post, knowing I would cry again.

    You put into words so well the feelings of loss and that strange silence that follows. The not knowing what to do now. The going on with the everyday after something so monumental. I am so sorry for your pain and sadness, for the loss of that special person no one else can replace.

    I am thinking of you and your family and hoping that when you are ready the rough edges around that hole in your life blur and the happy memories stand out bright.

    • Thanks for your words– I know you have been through the same recently – as I said in response to the other comment — these comments take away some of the silence I feel. We are all going through these things in our lives and need dto acknowledge all of our pains along with our joys!!

  2. Pingback: The Sound of Silence | VeggieSandwichGeneration

  3. My father died last summer and it was sudden, hard and emotional. I warn you of the sudden moments of emotions and memories that come flooding in and stir your heart, but hold on to them as they let him be close again. I hope that you live your pain and don’t hold it in or bury it because only when we let it pass through us can we embrace the happier times and all those 1000s of memories. I send you a big hug and my heart goes out to you

  4. People seem to have less and less time for meaningful conversation, and there are few subjects as meaningful as death. I hope you’ll keep writing about your father. It’s a way to keep him alive, and to remember things you might have otherwise forgotten. We do have to go on with life, but memories — including memories of those we’ve lost — is part of that.

    This was an excellent post.

  5. I think of your dad often. Yesterday we got donuts at Weis, and it made me think of how Lili and Helena will not have as strong memories of their grandpa as the older grandkids will, and Harrison will not have any memories of him. Grandpa’s house was such a magical place for the boys, especially for Luke. Awhile back when we were in Jamestown, we were looking at a replica of a Native American village. Inside one of the huts were animal skins. Ethan said, “Grandpa would love this place. I wish he wasn’t dead.” It tugged at my heart and I wished he was there, sharing the kids’ wonder and curiosity.

  6. I think of him often – good memories that are capped off with the beautiful and fitting service on the water. Your heart wrenching work to put that together makes grieving easier for everyone who was there.

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