2001 was not a good year for my family. Death knocked on our door nine times over a period of 10 months. Two family members, one cousin and seven very close friends died. Today is my father’s birthday, and I still miss him but the acute grief is long gone. Sometimes I wonder what my life would have been like if it had been four weddings and one funeral instead of the other way around. Would I have changed career, and gone back to school to study mental training, become a life- and business coach and a grief counsellor? Would I even have been living in Stockholm or in Sweden? No, no, no, no and no but I am convinced my father would still have had a say both in terms of my career, and my choice of residence. He was both my friend and my personal advisers in areas as diverse as finance, career, art, wine and men.
The grief was great, and the pain cut like fire through my body when my father died. My mother, my brother and I sat by his side the last three days of his life, which he spent in the hospital. Many friends came by to take a last farewell of my father even though he was no longer conscious. But also to support us in our sorrow. Others we kept up to date over the phone. At lunchtime on the third day we had to phone our close friends and say: no more visits. Time was running out, and all hope was gone. The last couple of hours were just ours, my mother’s, my brother’s and mine.We sat at my father’s side when he took his last breath, and it was a gift to be present when he died. It was at that moment that I realized that death is not scary, it just is.
Four funerals and one wedding later, I crashed. The trigger was a song by Celine Dion on the radio; do not ask me what she sang, I have no idea. By now I was afraid to answer the phone, it felt like every time it rang I got news of another person that had died. After six months of extreme stress and grief, plus arranging two funerals I was on the verge of suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. I cried, I went to therapy and I started studying mental training. A few years later I decided to add grief counsellor to my resume, and it was then everything clicked and I got my emotional healing. 2001 was a bad year for myself and for my family, but life goes on. Several close friends and family members have died since then, and every time it feels like my heart is going to break. It is natural that we continue to miss those who have died, but life does not get any worse because we experience many losses, nor does it get any better. I cannot say that I have grown as a person because of all my sorrow, but I have learned how to manage it. It is important to get emotional healing to be able to see the beauty in life, and most days I do. I am also happy with most of the choices I have made in my life. Dad, I love you and I miss you! Happy Birthday! // Love Marianne
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