Our family has been grieving this week as we lost dad, Jacob VandeMyle. He was up and about during Christmas day, and then took a turn that evening and just didn’t recover. But, what even is grief? If you look it up you get a description, words about words, “deep sorrow, especially that caused by someone’s death.”
What about the loneliness? It’s not just the hole in our heart that’s gone, there’s the hole in the home … a hole that dad always filled, he was always home to lend an ear, lend a hand, a hello, and some discourse.
What about the happiness? Dad was suffering for quite a while with COPD, kidney troubles, trouble remembering, etc … He doesn’t have to suffer any more. He doesn’t have to ingest a medicine cabinet to get out of bed any more.
The description mentions sorrow but, what about sorrow about sorrow? My own sorrow but, also the sorrow for my mother and siblings loss. It’s not just MY sorrow … I’ve driven down to Richfield three times in the last week, to celebrate, to say goodbyes, to be with my family.
While washing the dishes I found myself remembering dad. He’d often insist on washing them. I found myself irritated that my sister/niece and her friends kept passing through, which in that house means that you have to close the dishwasher and sometimes step out of the way. Then, I found that I was just irritated about being irritated, it was all generating internally and feeding itself. I drove home last night in the dark and cold because I didn’t want to be there anymore. I needed some rest.
My relationship with Jake started out as many step-father/son relationships, or at least the ones I had, and the ones that you see depicted on television. Troubled. I was an asshole teenager, dead set on destroying my life and liver, and he often wanted me to calm down and be respectful. I remember on one occasion telling him “Don’t worry about it. You’ll be gone in a few months, just like all the others.” Words that he saw to me regretting.
He wasn’t. He stayed … and despite my attitude toward him, he helped me, and continued helping me clear through to his last days. He helped all of my siblings too, and the rest of my family. Over time, I realized that he helped everyone. He loved everyone … even if they had a shitty attitude toward him.
You can help
The “what is grief” definition doesn’t include the fear and anxiety of living without him. As well as the other ways that we needed dad, we depended on him financially. We’re left with mountains of payments that need to be taken care of, as well as my own apartment, there’s the mortgage, the cars, the funeral (that we still don’t know will be wholly covered on the insurance). If you can, please help us get through this.
It doesn’t include the overwhelm of work ahead. While mom’s anxiety has been on the funeral primarily, there’s also the house … Jake was a collector of … everything. Literally. I got a dumpster out front Tuesday which might sound preemptive but, the mattress was soiled and needed thrown out. So it seemed logical. We’ve got a lot of work ahead …