Finding Gratitude Within Our Grief.
My father died yesterday. I guess writing has always been my way of processing events and experiences. I don’t often share the writing, just use it as a means of outflow. But on this occasion I thought I would share my truth in this vulnerable moment.
Once again I am witnessing the impermanence of life and am presented with another opportunity for transformation…
Two and half years ago, my sister, brother and I said goodbye to our Mum after her long journey with cancer.
It wasn’t until yesterday when my father passed away that I realized the varying degrees and types of grief available to a person. With Mum it was a very obvious grief, direct heartache and emptiness, combined with relief that she no longer had to suffer.
My father and I were not close. I let go of him some time ago in the knowing that our father/daughter relationship was no longer serving either one of us. I have not had contact with my father for many years. The grief I am experiencing today is unique.
My Dad was a tortured soul with a tormented mind. He was an artist, a nature lover, and a karaoke enthusiast. For most of his life he was taking a cocktail of ever changing prescribed medication, both oral and injected, along with the occasional dose of electric shock therapy back in the early days.
Dad battled with severe depression, alcoholism, violent outbursts, suspected schizophrenia, religious paranoia and suicidal tendencies. He spent some of our childhood going in and out of psychiatric units. My father was probably the most terrifying person I have ever encountered.
Despite all of that, there remains a six-year-old girl inside of me who has continued to love him unconditionally until this day.
So, it is the six-year-old girl in me who is grieving today. I feel her so alive and present in me with her sweet soft grief. With her memory of a father, who used to exist somewhere inside a frightening monster of a man — a Doctor Jekyll and Mister Hyde.
It was the six-year-old me who danced joyously with her father to Frank Sinatra records in the lounge room on good days. It was she who held his big safe strong hand as they strolled through the park… the same hand he raised in rage to his family.
That singing voice of his I loved to hear at bedtime, yet it shook me to the core when that voice was charged with anger and rage. It was that six-year-old me who gazed adoringly into his big blue over-medicated eyes; he was there physically, yet so vacant behind those eyes.
However, it is the adult me who is here in this moment with a heart full of gratitude for all that he was. Within all of that chaos was my family. And within that fear was some kind of safety. Within the rage was love. Amongst the depression were fragments of joy. Beyond the violence was a fatherly tenderness.
And underneath all that medication and damage was a man made of a pure spirit, flesh, blood, cells and miracles… just like each and every one of us.
You see, it is because of my father that I learned exactly what I didn’t want to be in life. Because of the effects of him I embarked on an awesome journey of self-healing and truth-seeking.
It is because of my father’s story that I am inspired and guided on my journey of experiencing, learning and sharing breath-work, body-work, creative expression and other forms of work which assist us in dropping our baggage, letting go of our stories, de-armoring and expanding, enabling us to explore our own unique and infinite potential and getting on with what we are each here to do.
My father’s seed was planted, and from it I was born. Here I am living this beautiful life, able to work through my pain by sharing with you the gratitude that arises from my grief. Feeling blessed for the journey that has allowed me to move through and out of my own long experience of severe depression.
I am feeling so alive and aware of my personal growth, because this time I am not reaching out for a bottle, a cigarette, or drugs as I would have done in the recent past.
Instead, I give myself permission to feel the pain, the anger, the fear and the emptiness without attaching to it, projecting it, avoiding it or numbing it. Taking deep courageous breaths, long walks in nature, lavender baths and eating plenty of peanut butter to soothe the soul. Knowing that it is okay to reach out to loved ones for support. And to take this time to care for myself as a grown woman, but also to care for that six-year-old girl in me, doing what is right for me, not what I am expected to do, or feel I should do in this colorful new dance with life.
Bon voyage and RIP, Dennis Patrick Keany. May your next journey through this incredible life bring you an abundance of peace and joy.
Natalie Keany’s passion lies with the journey of discovering the unique infinite potential that is inherent within each and every one of us. From her own ongoing inner and outer journey, she has learned to work with and share the breath as a tool for letting go, expression and opening, thus allowing us to connect with our own body and other people in a deeper more loving way. This is achieved through the use of deep connected breathing techniques as a way to release physical, mental and emotional tensions and blockages. She currently shares these intimate and beautiful journeys of self-exploration with individuals and groups. Natalie spends her time between London, Australia, Bali and India. She is learning and practicing the healing qualities of sound, Yoga, dance, body-work, herbs, Osho meditation, Reiki and Qi gong. She is in the process of lovingly creating workshops which provide a safe and fun space for participants to explore, open, release, transform and return to the peaceful, perfect, whole beings that we ultimately all are. Natalie can be contacted by email.