Ester Marsh column: Mourning, grieving — I’ve never felt this way before

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 23, 2022

I am a positive soul and work hard at it, as I mentioned in last week’s column about the death of my dad. I have heard people deal with this kind of grieving before but in the past, with my mom, friends and family and beloved furry family, I was able to decide where I would be able to “let go.” This time however, I am experiencing it very differently.

I was so fortunate that my dad didn’t suffer too long, that he waited for me and that he is in a better place and most importantly, back with my mom. So most of the time, I am thankful for the life he had and the life he gave us. It was a whirlwind trip back home, and my head still spins when I think about it. Finally settling in back home, my weekly phone call to my dad came up. I used to try to call him each Saturday. My heart got so heavy and sad and it seems as if I was mourning my mom all over again too.

So what is mourning? It’s the act of sorrowing; to feel or show grief over; a cause of such suffering. In earlier days, people wore certain clothes or armbands (most of the time black) to show a person was mourning the loss of someone.  They still continue that practice in other countries. Maybe it’s something that needs to come back. I know I have acted very different since my dad died and, at times, have no control over these feelings. Wearing certain clothes, or armband gives people heads up of your current situation. It is truly a very new feeling for me and it has been challenging to accept it. Not just the death of my dad, but not being able to steer my feelings the way I need (want) to.

Talking to people who have been where I am now, and many of you have, the loss of a second parent seems to hit harder than “just” one. Sounds weird right? I believe, in my case, it’s because I am grieving the loss of my mom all over too. I feel like a 55-year-old old orphan. I am so lucky and thankful that I have amazing siblings, one old brother and sister and one younger sister. We are different (all strong-willed and hard-headed at times) but we all have the same goal in mind; be kind, be humble, be respectful.

When both parents are gone, lots of things need to be done, and too many times I have seen it bring out the worst in people. I am so fortunate that it has brought the best out in us. Once again, I have a job and boss who supports and understands the grieving process. Too many places are not set up this way, but in my experience the YMCA talks the talk and walks the walk, and I am blessed to be part of this wonderful organization. We have a wonderful chaplain, Tom Teichrow, who has held group sessions on overcoming grief at our J.F. Hurley YMCA before and is starting another one on May 3 for six weeks each Tuesday at 10 a.m. If you are interested, call or text him at 704-798-2048 so he can plan accordingly.

As I am finding out myself, I have to give myself time to grieve. There is no set time for when it begins or when it is over. Asking for help or joining a support group is not a weakness. When you exercise the mind, spirit and body, your soul needs guidance, support and caring too. May God hold you, help you, and see you through…

Ester H. Marsh is health and fitness director of the J.F. Hurley Family YMCA.