One thing is evident about the times we are living in right now.
So many of us have come to know the experience of grief and loss much more intimately than ever before.
About one third of the clients I have the honor of working with are grieving someone they’ve lost that is near and dear to their heart: a teenager who recently lost her Dad to Covid, a Mom of 2 that found out last week her friend has a rare cancer and has 3 months to live, an 80 year old widow that just lost her precious dog, her loving companion.
It’s beyond heart wrenchingly difficult to make sense of the experience and the loss. As a healer, a guide, a life coach, it’s tough in the moment someone is grieving and just wants one more huge from their Dad or to hear the voice of their husband or to ask their Mom a question they never thought to ask, to reassure them that there’s a divine reason for everything and that in time, it will get easier. Because when we are grieving, those words fall flat.
All we want when we are grieving someone we love is to look in their eyes one more time, to hold them in a tight embrace and never let go, to hear their voice say, “I love you. I’m so proud of you. Everything will be ok.”
My Dad passed away almost 3 years ago and I have felt a kind of emptiness ever since.
He was home to me. And the truth is that as strong as I am, and as much as I’ve done in my life, he was my anchor, the unconditional love that allowed me to fly, to take chances, and to explore the depths of who I am.
No matter what happened in my life and it has been topsy turvy to put it lightly, I always knew that my Dad was cheering me on and was there to catch me if I fell. I felt an unconditional love from him that I simply can’t describe with words.
In a desperate attempt to share my forever love of my Dad, here’s a bit of the Eulogy I spoke at his funeral:
“There is nothing like a father’s love. Especially our Dad. A man who deeply loved in such an immense profound way, a love we could see in his eyes and feel always, throughout every season of our lives. And we were blessed to have so many different seasons with him.
It won’t be easy today to express in words what a great man and extraordinary father he was. I hope that the tears weaved throughout what I want to share with you will express more than any word ever could.
Our dad was caring, and loyal (he worked for the same company for 40+ years) and humble and noble. He always did the right thing even when he had to sacrifice himself to do it. And of course, the many challenges that life brought, gave him many opportunities to model his humble, noble way of being and living life.
But the thing that most separated him, the thing that made him so extraordinary is how deeply he loved.
My sister and I could always feel it, we could see it in his eyes, his words proved it and his generosity with his huge heart, his resources and his time, always displayed his deep love for us. And that’s what I will miss the most.
He always told me I could be and do anything I set my mind to, anything I dreamed of. He believed in me, always and I felt that. He was always there for me, no matter what… and I will so miss that.
I’ve probably used the word “love” more than any other word today, but that truly signified our Dad. He really knew what true love was. And as a result of having a huge heart, he was an incessant worrier, which I totally get, now that I have a daughter.
When I was 23, I left Chicago to move to California. I remember that moment as it if were yesterday. And mostly I remember the pained look in his eyes, because as any Dad would be, I knew he was terrified having me move three thousand miles away.
But he let me go with a smile on his face and love in his heart because he knew that’s what I wanted to do. He never stunted my growth or my adventurous spirit with his ideas, his beliefs, or his fears.
He always told me I could be and do whatever I set my mind to and he had the strength and grace to let me find my way even though I knew it was painstakingly heart wrenching for him at times.
Today, I promised myself that I wouldn’t use the word goodbye… because our Dad, and my sister and I, hated goodbyes.
We were always the ones crying at the end of a movie or a sad part when people lost someone they loved or parted ways. So I’m not going to use the word “goodbye” because I know he is forever here in our hearts and WE will always be a part of HIM in ways.
Like in the way I cut up an RX bar into little pieces very methodically just like he did with his salads – his carrots, his lettuce, and his cucumber. And even more profoundly, he will always be with me in the way that I deeply and passionately love. He taught me how to do that.
He will always be with my sister in the way that she methodically organizes and structures everything in her life and more profoundly, with her generosity and huge, caring heart.
He will always be with his son in law in the way that he… consistently roots for the Bears no matter how painful that may be and more profoundly, in the way that he loves and provides for his children.
He will always be with his grandson in the way that he… always loved a great play, an extra base, and watching him embrace his innate leadership.
He will always be with his granddaughter in the way that she… has his intelligence, a witty sense of humor, and care for family.
He will always be with my husband in their equal love of golf and the way he adores our daughter.
And he will always be with my daughter in the way that she…is very meticulous and smart… and immensely kind, loving, and caring.
And the one thing that will continue to bring us peace in the moments we immensely miss his presence here in our lives will be the honor of having him as our Dad and Grandpa….with the memories we had, with the lessons he taught us…. and of course, knowing he is now playing golf in heaven… We love you Dad!”
I’m not sure how I got through that Eulogy without ending up as a heaping pile of tears on the floor of the funeral home.
But I did and here we are three years later. Three years of grief, love, memories, and wisdom.
What I do know to be true is that he lives on.
We bring him into everything we do because the truth is in that way, he’s still here with us every day. From the wind chime that used to hang in his condo that I gently nudge everyday so I can hear it ring and feel his presence. To his cozy sweatshirt that my daughter wears often just to bring a smile to my face. To his Sox baseball cap that shields my face from the blazing sun. And to the saved voicemails from him that I listen to when I just can’t bear the thought of not being able to call him or hear his voice again. He’s always with us.
And although it’s not the same as having him here on this physical plane, it definitely gives me comfort and has been one of the ways that I have found peace throughout the grieving process.
I know how painful it is to lose someone you adore. And if you are grieving, know that I am so sorry for your loss. I hope my words did more than fall flat and that the sharing of my experience has brought you, if nothing else, a momentary feeling of relief, peace, or love. Love, Diane
P.S. The photo above is my daughter holding my Dad’s face and looking with wonderment into his eyes. Not only does it completely melt my heart but it is just like the tender, adoring love I always felt from my Dad.
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Diane Altomare is a Master Certified Integrative life coach to thousands of people worldwide. She is often a featured guest on NBC, ABC7 News, more than 30 local and nationally syndicated radio shows, including CBS Radio and NPR and has contributed to many publications including Mind Body Green, AARP and the Chicago Tribune. For the past 20 years, as a beloved motivational speaker and workshop leader, she has helped thousands of people transform from a limiting past to an inspiring future. Known as “the coach with the authentic, gentle, & laser-focused approach,” she has a gift for nailing the deep truth behind any situation. She is the author of Clarity: 10 Proven Strategies to Transform Your Life, which jumped to the #1 New Release spot on Amazon in Emotional Self-Help.
I’m inspired by Diane’s ability to profoundly and intuitively connect people to the root of their unhappiness. With Altomare’s revolutionary approach to living your life from the inside out, you can’t help but feel greater peace, happiness, and fulfillment.