Grief and Grieving

My father died a week ago today. The week has been confusing in many ways. People connected that I had not heard from in a decade, one I did not know connected to recall the time he had spent with Dad 45 years ago.

Life is a strange thing. We don’t know what of it matters until there is a trigger. I have an estate planning presentation somewhere entitled, “Too soon old, too late smart.” Pretty much it.

We take our cues from memories of events.

My earliest go back to routines from 70 years ago. A few:

  • Every morning before going to work, Dad listened to Walter Bowles with the news and Ed Fitkin with the sports on Radio CJBC, Toronto. I recall when King George died, and he woke James and me to tell us.
  • I am sure all of us have read books to our children at bedtime. Dad did too. Not Dr. Seuss, though. He read books Winston Churchill had written. I can’t say I remember anything about them; maybe James does. I think the reading activity itself was what mattered, not so much what was read.
  • One ritual I am curious about, though. On Christmas Eve, did everyone leave a glass of whiskey for Santa?

We moved 66 years ago yesterday. That was a bit different. The house was in a new, co-op built neighbourhood. We had room to spread out. A busy home, but we all felt like we were supposed to be there. Floor hockey in the basement. An occasional lacrosse ball through a basement window. Collecting popsicle sticks to hold the sod still on the bank at the front. Many friends. Everyone in the neighbourhood knew everyone else.

Our memories are little events. Little things hold useful life lessons.

Do you remember the Andy Griffith show? Barney Fife, Aunt Bea and Oppie. All I remember of it is Dad telling me to notice Andy’s behaviour. If something went wrong, you just set about fixing it. No emotional fuss. No fault. How like Dad.

A second thought stays with me. I told Dad I had heard the bible is right. The meek will inherit the Earth because no one else will take it. His response was simple. “They don’t understand meek.” It took me years to sort that out.

Collectively little events create the process of our lives.   Life is details

One of those details is mourning. Why do we have that feeling? It is not so pleasant, and perhaps that’s good. Grief is how we disconnect from the past and the energy stored there. We cannot reinvest the energy connected to what is lost until we grieve. We go forward while the memories and their lessons remain.

Something to think about: suppose an angel appears and offers to remove your feeling of grief. Not such a bad thing. There is one condition – all the memories must go away too. Would you take the deal? I wouldn’t, and I doubt many would.

Grief is the price we pay for having known a worthy person. We mourn his death but let’s not forget to celebrate his life too. Hold the memories and their meaning. There is joy there.

Until we meet again, Dad, be happy and keep contributing to those you are with now. Say Hi to Mom and the others for us.

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I build strategic, fact-based estate and income plans. The plans identify alternate ways to achieve spending and estate distribution goals. In the past, I have been a planner with a large insurance, employee benefits, and investment agency, a partner in a large international public accounting firm, CEO of a software start-up, a partner in an energy management system importer, and briefly in the restaurant business. I have appeared on more than 100 television shows on financial planning. I have presented to organizations as varied as the Canadian Bar Association, The Ontario Institute of Chartered Accountants, The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food, and Banks – from CIBC to the Business Development Bank.

Be in touch at 705-927-4770 or by email at

2 Comments on “Grief and Grieving

  1. Sorry to hear about the loss of your Father, our prayers are with you and your family. YBIC

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