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Broken Ice

Broken Ice

June 10, 1998. The day my father died. Fifteen years feels like fifteen minutes when you reflect on the death of a parent.  You become more an adult and more a child all at once. You are thrust to the front of the line but there is always a part of you that seeks the protection and solace of a parent. That is gone. There is much to grieve. There is more to let go of.

When someone dies—parent, relative, spouse, friend—it knocks us off of our moorings. As well it should. It is the most shocking and emotional thing that will happen in most of our lives that doesn’t actually happen to us. Death is a realm we have absolutely no control over. We never really know when it will come and that is part of the fear we all have toward death.

When someone dies, we grieve for them but we also grieve for ourselves. The weight of grief pushes us back into a childlike state of vulnerability. The adult part of us wants to take control while that hurt child wants to let loose with tears to express the fear that is so remarkably personal and intimate, yet so universal.

I was speaking with a friend recently about grieving loss and dealing with death. I said that the older you get the more goodbyes you say. There are so many deaths to grieve: the end of relationships, marriages, friendships, jobs, places, youth, and of course the greatest grief, death. None of these goodbyes are easy, anticipated or welcome, but they are inevitable.

In talking with my brother about our father’s death, I got a little philosophical and used melting ice as a metaphor. I said, “It’s like an arctic ice flow in spring thaw. It always moves and no matter how much you try to anticipate you next step, there’s always an unexpected shift you have to maneuver through. Sometimes you find stable footing, sometimes you stumble, sometimes you fall. As long as you can get back up, just keep going.

Grief is like that. You manage all of the chunks of emotion that careen into you and that you bounce off of, careful not to fall too deeply into it and sink. Then you find your way through to something solid and safe and get on with living, until the ice begins to crack again.


andrewv100x100Andrew Vail’s writing career began in Halifax when he was but a child. In Grade 4, he wrote and produced his own series of comic books entitled “Freaky The Frog”, the on-going tale of a little misfit frog and his pals of the pond. Marvel Comics never came knocking but Andrew knew he loved to create and tell stories. Since then, Andrew has worked in advertising, PR and publicity; has interviewed politicians, rock stars and very interesting yet not-so-famous movers and shakers. He has published articles in a variety of local and national magazines and websites.

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One Comment

  1. Very well said Andrew Vail. it’s been three years since both my parents passed away and it really does feel like it just happened.

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