life goes on - contemplating grief

We're in the eye of the storm again with my lovely Dad. Dad had been improving steadily over the last 3 months since he's been home and his grit determination to recover from his serious stroke in March has been humbling and awe-inspiring to witness. He has touched the hearts of everyone who has cared for him. Next week he was going to try his first free stand.

In the early hours of this Saturday morning, he was rushed in to hospital and this time there's a lot more going on for him, Dad being asked about a DNAR (Do not attempt resuscitation order) and given a side room because we are a big family (well, there's only 7 of us in the UK, not that big!). Our minds are working overtime - is this IT?

Despite consultants nationally waving angry fingers at Jeremy Hunt, the health minister, saying they already work weekends...there are no ward doctors or consultants about this weekend who will tell us just how serious things are. The busy ward operates a skeleton staff at weekends. Because seemingly your health doesn't matter at weekends.

Rant over, pre-stroke, Dad was a health nut going on daily walks, meditating, praying, doing yoga, eating healthily and a regular in health-food shops. He was on two allopathic medications for blood pressure. Post stroke he is on a medley of medications for pain, muscular contractions, to thin his blood, reduce fluid in his body and even more medications to counteract the side effects.

Dad's stroke was just too big and complex for me to get on top of all the natural alternatives. Instead, we boosted his body with herbal tinctures, supplements and Ayurvedic massage oils, good healthy home cooking, love and laughter alongside allopathy. Everybody says we couldn't have done more. It's been so hard to let go of the fact I can't make my Dad better.

Dad is a Highly Sensitive Person at heart and in his body. Tough, resilient and built to last. His body never took to allopathic medicine, preferring the softness of nature and Ayurveda to heal him. His ancestry, his bloodline, his upbringing stems from nature, the wild open green plains of rural Punjab in the 30's and 40's (pre-Monsanto) where he ate food straight from the land and milk straight from the buffalo.

From a land where his gravely ill brother, then in his twenties, was cured by the local holy men and prayers. And he went on to live in to his late eighties. Where rabid dogs were surrounded by priests citing incantations, curing the dog of it's disease. I think that naturalness stayed in his system, the core of his being, preferring minimal interference even after decades of living abroad. It is fundamentally who he is.

The plethora of allopathic medications have been like a machine gun firing at Dad's body several times a day. He's just not built for a chemical invasion. Like Mother Earth. I have no doubt some of the medications are making a difference, the pain management being life changing for dad. But the rest of them are slowly killing him. He hates antibiotics - passionately.

Dad wants to live. LIVE. He is 86 years old and not ready to go. He tells us all not to worry. He's worried that we are worried. The hardest thing is that Dad has been so vital all his life that I guess we all thought he was immortal. Silly, I know. He occupies a H U G E space in our family. A quiet oak tree. A big rock, solid in crashing seas.

I'm experiencing this strange, protracted grieving process which comes in waves. The waves are always there, they just vary in size. There is no predictability except Dad will leave us one day. We just don't know when and that unpredictability is so hard to BE with. Last night my sister in law told me that she does not want Dad to die, she wants him to be alive.

This is such a huge emotional experience and everyday thousands of people go through it. There is nothing unique in my experience, I am one of many. We'll all go through it at some point but the depth, the rawness, the bigness, the mysteriousness of transition, the gifts, the blessings, the heart, the soul, the everything about dying and death is so well hidden in daily life.

Why don't more people talk about it openly? Why is death so hidden in Western culture? Why are we so weird about it? I can't quietly deal with this. I need soulful conversations. I won't hide. Maybe my perspective is different because culturally I hail from far off lands where people are still cremated on large open plinths in fields, shrouded in cloth.

Whilst the grief continues alongside making the most of Dad HERE and NOW I am comforted by Dad's beliefs - this is his kismet, his God's will and he will be going to his God when he leaves his body. It feels as if the welcoming committee are getting ready. But then my Dad has always been full of surprises on this journey.

Dad's light is so luminous. His light, his spirit, his soul will shine on and we will feel the warmth of it like a long Indian summer that never ends, the kind that gets in your bones.

This morning Dad said to my sister through tears "if my heart stops I don't want the doctors to do any tests".

DNAR.