Dead dad and boyfriend breakup denial is alive and well, though.
I pass my dad's phone number in my cell phone contact list all the time. At least a couple times a week I see "Dad" and think "I need to call him!"
And then I remember and feel sad, and it's kind of like he just died.
I Facebook unfriended the newly ex-boyfriend to stop obsessively checking his status and it worked. After more than a month of no contact, I started feeling like I was OK and could maybe transition to a friendship.I remembered how much I enjoyed his company even with all our clothes on and missed his friendship. I sent an email and really, really, really believed I was just saying "hi" with no expectations.
And then I got a response that did NOT say, "I love you, I miss you, and I am such a jerk for breaking up with you. What do I need to do to get you to trust me with your love again?"
And then I remember and feel sad, and it's kind of like he just broke up with me.
I know, because people tell me and I really, really need to believe them, that the level of grief that I feel is in direct proportion to my capacity to love now and in the future. I know how to open my heart and that's why it hurts so much right now. But that's why I will also feel that joy and warmth throughout my life.
I was able to repair my relationship with my father. Over the years, in our own way. I made amends, allowed him to make amends to me, I loved him, and told him so and allowed him to love me and tell me so. I said all that I needed to say and was with him when he was alive and well and when he was dying. There is nothing I could/would do differently. That's huge and I'm grateful.
With the boyfriend, I have some regrets but not tons. I didn't pretend I didn't love as much as I did and I didn't pretend I didn't want to be with him as much as I did. I loved as fully and completely as I could and I was much more present and honest than I was in my marriage. I walked through fears, I learned to disagree respectfully, and so much more that I can't think of right now. I was not the perfect girlfriend. There are things I would do differently...do better, but I would not take back the realization that I wanted us to live together and blend our families. I would not take back sharing that realization with him.
What I would like to change is that he didn't and still doesn't want the same things. That's sad. Still.
I want a dual grief timer. I want to set one for Dead Dad and know that I have X amount of time left on the grief clock. I will stock up on tissue and when I start tearing up at odd times, I'll just tell people, "Oh sorry! I still have 9 months left of the acute Dead Dad grieving."
The other grief timer will be dedicated to the Boyfriend Breakup. I don't want to keep being surprised by my sadness. I want to know, "Oh, don't even worry about it! You're going to be sad for 6 more months and then you will be able to meet him for coffee and talk about your dating experiences with other people."
With or without the time, I'm still grieving and it sucks.