While Australia experienced unprecedented bushfires during the latter of half of 2019, my family and I were experiencing grief at a different level as my father passed away in November 2019. Even though we knew it would eventually happen one day due to his age and congenital health condition and that no one lives forever, it was still a shock when it happened. I found it difficult to accept that his death was preceded by a short, sharp burst of physical and emotional suffering during his three weeks in hospital after he had had a fall. His suffering became our suffering and I took turns with my siblings to care for him in hospital as he became completely dependent on us for help in all aspects of daily life. To make matters worse, in his final week he contracted an antibiotic resistant bacteria and we could not interact with him without face masks, gloves and gowns.
But I made the effort while he was still lucid to tell him how much I loved him and that I was so proud of his ability to find a way to bring us from the oppressiveness of our birth country to the magnanimity of Australia all those years ago. It was a hard thing for me to do as someone who has had a typical Asian upbringing where expressions of love with family members is not a regular thing, but I made the effort knowing that I may never have another chance. My father was a humble man who I later learned had experienced a bleak childhood of rejection by his own parents. Unsurprisingly, he had a pessimistic outlook on life and a debilitating sense of helplessness. Unfortunately, I learned how to be pessimistic from firsthand observation of how he dealt with life, and from a lot of trial and error I had to learn resilience and optimism from scratch, which has led me to the path that I’m on to help others who are now in the situation that I was in previously. After doing a lot of personal development on myself I learned as an adult to view him with understanding, compassion and finally gratitude.
The finality of death can often bring us realisation and acceptance of the flaws and good points of our parents, but it is better to reach that state while our parents are still alive because we carry inside of us whatever has been instilled in our childhood and death cannot heal that, only our willingness to heal our own wounds. The child-parent relationship is central to our lives as children growing up and later as parents for those who have children, where we hopefully learn from our parents’ mistakes while humbly acknowledging that we will most likely make our own mistakes with our children. It is a complex relationship as we were raised by parents who often have unresolved issues from their own upbringing and relationship with their parents.
It is a profound realisation that now as adults we are finally in charge of ourselves and can make our own decisions. However, how many of us relapse into the childlike behaviour of blaming our parents for our negative characteristics such as anxiety, lack of direction, emotional overeating, low self-esteem etc? But it is only from reclaiming our own authority as adults that we can heal from whatever childhood issues or trauma we experienced, as we realise that we are now indeed able to decide for ourselves and that we can also now give ourselves permission to heal hurts that were often inadvertently caused by parents who had not learned to heal their own hurts.
So if you feel this sense of despair, pessimism and hurt that just won’t go away, please contact me now as I’m here to help you.
Until next time,
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