The Gift of Expansion Through Death & Grief

Today my dad would have been turning 68. He left this Earth plane on December 2, 2021. It’s been five months since he’s been gone, but it feels like he’s been gone for years. I didn’t want to bring energy to his passing…for many reasons. This may be quite an unconventional post about the death of a parent, but perhaps you’ll be curious to entertain my perspective and lived experiences. And perhaps, some of you may relate to a parent or loved one that has taken you on a similar journey.

Some of you may know, and many of you don’t know…that I had a very challenging relationship with my dad…you know the narcissistic person that you offer attempt after attempt to love unconditionally, but they continue to hurt you. Some years ago, I had to create a firm boundary and say good bye. It was painful, because even in that moment, he didn’t get it. It didn’t click. He didn’t get yet another wake up call…so I had to do what was best for myself, my life and my heart.

When my sister shared the news…of course I broke down…momentarily. He died alone. Something he repeated over and over to us when we were younger: “I’m going to die alone.” Friends, we create our reality. There is no easy way to say it…be mindful with your words! I think there is enough evidence out there to demonstrate the power of our word as humans.

I’ve been a student of grief and loss for over twenty years after the passing of my Mom back in 2000. This time, the experience and the lessons, were very different. The growth in myself that I’ve experienced over the last twenty years and the understanding of birth and death being of the same circle, and my letting go of my dad, my expectations of him…all played a very special role in my processing of his passing.

We are always dancing with grief…all the shifts, especially these last two years, however, I believe if we take the love, time and gentleness with ourselves to fully feel all the feelings, process it, then integrate them, we can really transmute it to healing and moving through and onward. I know there is no “end goal” or “result” or point in time of “coping” or “getting over it.” What I have experienced is a sensation of not hurting the same anymore, not feeling the weight of the emotion, and most importantly, not being held or victimized by the story. You spiral/cycle through each detail of why you’re still holding on, until you just come to a point and release your hooks and free yourself.

Although my dad brought so much hurt, I did spend those days leading up to his burial as a time to reflect on the good things he did…to allow his soul to remember when he has his life review.

My dad taught me how to ride a bike and drive a car. He encouraged me to run and race…we’d have races up and down our part of the block and it encouraged me to run track & field and explore sports. My dad loved food; and more than food, he loved to cook. I think I get my absolute love for food from Mom, but also from Dad. Dad loved to cook…and catered Pakistani food for a little while. This brought him joy, especially when my mom was ill. I learned a lot from him and when I moved to Halifax and was buying groceries and cooking completely on my own, I remember calling him from the grocery store for tips on buying produce and then asking for his spicy recipes.

When I consider why I love going to festivals, shopping at international bazaars or markets, I give him credit for exposing me to all the music festivals that happened in Ontario in the 90’s. He took me to Earth Song, Festival of Friends and others. Although my mom was the first one to travel and leave home, he too had a traveller’s and explorer’s heart. Being exposed to the beauty of Earths culture through art, music and food, is something I’ve always nurtured, and I am grateful to him for that.

My dad also took me to my first Pow Wow on the lands of the Six Nations on the Grand River. I believe we all have a direct connection with the drum, but for me, not being of this land, and feeling a deep calling to a culture and people so far from my own in Pakistan, felt like a coming home of sorts.

I danced between grief and anger for those days after his passing …grief for the lost potential opportunities that we “could have had”, and the “if onlys”…but allowing the grief to pass through fully and accept the past. And the anger because of the years and decades of verbal, emotional and physical abuse of myself, my siblings and my beloved Mother. He was an alcoholic, a narcissist, and deeply wounded himself. I have wondered in my adult years if he was ever truly loved by his family.

My experiences with dad have also inspired me to learn about….when does this happen? When and how to we go from loving, divine children from the stars, to broken, toxic monsters so removed from love? Gabor Mate & Thomas Hubl’s work have helped me to process and understand…but it hasn’t been easy breaking through the anger to create space for compassion and understanding (while keeping boundaries). How can we honour their pain, their journey, while honouring ourselves?

And Pakistani culture, like many, has many toxic dynamics that just don’t allow a free spirit to be loved as they are. I think our generations are bringing in a new energy, a new consciousness to the planet where we can hold space for the healing of the past, while nurturing each other as an individual soul, rather than squeezing someone into an outdated box of cultural expectations. I try not to justify his choices and actions, but after years of trying to make it work, I surrendered to simply understanding his story, as toxic as it was…and offering him compassion, while I made my boundaries. It hasn’t been easy. He has been the one human that I know that compassion did not come as easily.

This time, it felt easier to release the anger. One. last. time. To allow myself to feel the frustration of having to deal with all the consequences that came about from having a narcissistic dad like him and all the broken pieces of myself that I’m still healing…because of him. But also, these last few years where I haven’t spoken to him, doing the hard work of taking responsibility for my present life and letting go of what he had “done to me.” I have the tools and support to heal the damage. He was stuck in his cycle until the end. I also knew that offering him this release would allow his soul to do its work for perhaps his next life. I know holding on to that anger or hurt would only hold us both back.

His death has felt like a long, deep, beautiful, savoured exhale. That juicy, calm exhale that you eventually experience after a marathon of intensity.

This was a long-time coming. I had been “grieving” the loss of my dad for nearly a decade already, so this ending, was not a shock…nor a surprise…he had become a very unhealthy human physically and emotionally. The dad that contributed to giving me life, the dad I remember, I had already grieved. This human, this person, I only felt sad and then compassion for him.

Continuing to learn from grief, from anger and from the darkness, I had some deeper revelations that have served me as big lessons from observing his life. He always left a mess or created a mess for someone else to clean up – or better said, created a situation, expecting someone to come to his aid/rescue. Upon recognizing this pattern, I’ve decided I need to take more responsibility for myself and my life, to clean up where this this pattern or tendency may exist and heal it with the resilience, generosity and love that my parents did teach me.

The greatest experience of his death was the exciting realization that now we could both really start our healing journey.

He never actually listened to us or cared to expand his mind. So now, I know, we can speak on a soul level, where he doesn’t have his human ego, his unhealthy human form, to block my words, or reject me out of his insane defensiveness. I feel freer and not sad that I no longer have parents in this Earth plane.

The shifts happening here on Gaia for the last thirty years or so, and more intensely these last few years, have been nurturing our expansion into higher consciousness. I believe we are here to experience and to expand beyond the perceived painful limitations of grief and brokenness; to expand into a deeper love that allows us to feel as humans, but also invites us to let go, free up that energy and live more intentional lives. Death is becoming understood more and more. I am not afraid of death. My human heart feels sadness when I hear of someone’s death, but I do not sit in that sorrow like I used to. My soul just understands that death is just a new beginning.

I also resonate with the principle of soul contracts….which may be a new concept and perhaps mid-blowing for some of you reading, so I will elaborate in another post because that, is a whole other thing, but very tied to this particular relationship with my dad, which has allowed me to feel light and heal so much, with a light heart. In January of 2021 I had the opportunity to explore my own birth into this lifetime with my dear friend Victoria Rose. This birth/rebirth experience revealed to me the beauty of why I chose this soul to be my father in this lifetime. More to come on that as I’ve been wanting to share that for over a year! In the meantime, if you’re interested, I highly recommend Carolyn Myss and Dolores Cannon’s work.

My heart & soul thank you for reading. It’s been hard to even put some of these experiences, actualizations into digestible words, and I think I’ve forgotten a lot of things, but I needed to share this. If you want to chat more, I’d love to talk about this with you. Let’s have tea, go for a walk or a phone call. Grief is a messy, solo journey in some ways, and it’s a huge part of us being humans…but it is also such a graciously powerful teacher that liberates us in unimaginable ways!

Heartfelt gratitude and blessings to you.

~ Valentina

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