Father’s Day, and The Expiration of Grief.

Via Jennifer Pastiloff
on Jun 21, 2010
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The Main Event.

Yesterday was Father’s Day, which always makes me sad and at the same time want to hide my sadness. My dad died when I was eight years old and I have somehow convinced myself that I should be over it by now. Maybe because when he died I somehow told myself it was childish to cry so instead I said  I don’t care. I was eight. I did not shed a tear for ten years.

It has been decades since he passed. I am not sure where this thought came into being and at one point I adopted it but I always feel as if I have to apologize for how long it has been since he died of a stroke at 38 years old. As if I should be finished with being sad, as if I should already have tucked that part of my life away, neatly in a corner of my past.

Looking bored, watching a parade with my dad

” Hey Jen, just wanted to say I am thinking of you today. It’s Father’s Day and all.”

” Thanks. But  I mean, it was so long ago. I’m ok. I mean, it was so long ago. ” ( I guess I say I mean a lot when I am lying?)

What a load of baloney. Truthfully, it has been the Main Event of my life. Everything has been formulated around it and when things go Wrong, or what I deem as Wrong, I blame my father’s death: The Main Event. If he hadn’t died and left us I would have stayed in New York and published books and worn wool more and probably married a Jewish man and I would be rich and my nephew would not have been born with Prader Willi Syndrome.

So the lie is: I am not okay. I feel sad a lot. I miss him!

There is no expiration date on grief. It never gets easier.

Well, sometimes it does. But in the way that loss gets easier over time, that a root canal fades, that a heartbreak eventually becomes a memory. We don’t get over people, we just learn to keep going. Otherwise, what is the alternative?

I talk to my dad every single day during yoga. This is one of the things that really hooked me on yoga. That feeling of closeness with my dad’s spirit. I allow myself to cry. I give myself the room to grieve, even 25 years later, while I am on the mat or in savasana ( final resting pose).

The thing is: you never get over losing someone you love. I realized yesterday on my mat, in a pigeon pose, that I didn’t have to feel silly grieving for the loss of my dad even though I am now an adult. I give myself full permission to feel sad if I need to, to release that sadness so I can move on. The loss never goes away but my load certainly lightens when I let go of it instead of fighting it. In fact, this has become a theme of many of my own classes lately.

My dad, smoked four packs of Kools a day and was a comedian who would never do yoga in his life but he loves that I do because it has brought us closer. Unfortunately, I can’t hug him or have a glass of wine with him now that I am an adult but I am sure he is lurking. Somewhere. Smoking and playing practical jokes on all the people you have loved and lost.

Go ahead. Grieve on every birthday or Mother’s Day or Father’s Day for the rest of your life if you need to. Unlike milk, there is no expiration date.


About Jennifer Pastiloff

"Thank you Jennifer, for shining your light on mine." ~ Christy Turlington. / Jennifer Pastiloff, as featured on Good Morning America, is a lover of life, laughter, poetry, yoga, Modern Family (and a really good glass of wine.) She is the creator of Manifestation Yoga®, which is all about causing serious breakthroughs in your life without being too serious. Her rule of “If you fall you must laugh ” is strictly enforced in her yoga classes. / Jennifer teaches this inspirational style of yoga all over but her home base is in Los Angeles. She travels the world teaching workshops and leading retreats. When Jen's nephew Blaise was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder called Prader Wille Syndrome (PWS), it prompted her to start GAME Yoga. Gifts And Miracles Everyday: Free Yoga for Kids w/ Special Needs. / Jen is in the process of writing a book about how to manifest your life, one laugh at a time. She is partially deaf and wears hearing aids. / Jennifer spent 13 years working in the same restaurant and believes that everyone should have a job in the service industry at least once in their life. (It’s good for the soul, she says.) / Learn more about her at jenniferpastiloff.com. Her blog is Manifestation Yoga. Follow her on Facebook and on Twitter.


24 Responses to “Father’s Day, and The Expiration of Grief.”

  1. Terry Guinn says:

    Jennifer, That was beautiful. I will never know the pain you feel, but being an older father of four little ones, it saddens me to think about not being here for them as they grow up. I know that all I can do is make a difference in their lives while I can and I will always be in their hearts, just as your dad is in yours, regardless of when my journey ends. You are amazing! Terry G.

  2. Amy Esacove says:

    loved this Jen. Can't wait to see you in September. xoxo

  3. Amy Dixon says:

    What a beautiful post Jennifer. You are a gifted writer. Love, Amy

  4. Becky DeMarie says:

    Jennifer, this is a beautiful tribute to your dad. ” There is no expiration date on grief”. I never thought of it that way before. This helps put things in perspective for the sadness people feel, but never talk about.
    I admire you so much for being able to express your thoughts so clearly and from the heart. xoxo, Becky

  5. Stacy Kravitz says:

    Thank you for sharing your truth and heart with all of us. You give us permission to be ourselves, in every moment, no matter what comes up. Your dad IS proud of you! xoxo

  6. Thank you for sharing and helping me make sense for the feelings I sometimes harbor or ignore when I am asked or bring up my fathers passing. I always brush it off, but find myself crying a night wishing he was here. Yes you're right, how different life would be if HE our fathers who have passed, were still in our physical presence…with gratitude I thank you for this article helping me realize that it is okay to still grieve… beautifully written, touched and relieved and inspired your words resonate as if this article was personal to my experience. THANK YOU!!!!!!! OXOX

  7. Halle says:

    You are a strong and passionate woman– with a gift for words. Thank your opening up and sharing the story of your loss. Hugs,

  8. Josh says:

    It is often our ego that tells us how we must act, who's expectations we must live up to, and when it's okay and not okay to cry. The journey for each one of us is to dissolve the idea of who we should be, and in turn become who we really are. It is the ultimate test of any human being to overcome the the shadows of our parents, our teachers, our siblings, our friends, our lovers. As Joseph Campbell wrote, "we must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us." Sometimes, it's not just "okay" to cry. It is imperative we do so, to see just a bit more into that part of us that FEELS.

  9. Dylan says:

    Jennifer, thanks so much for sharing. You are always so open, raw, brave, inspiring and poetic. Thanks for being you. And for honoring and enriching all those who connect with.

  10. Jennifer – Thank you for sharing this thoughtful and touching article with me. I look forward to practicing yoga with you virtually on YogaVibes in the coming weeks!

  11. John Hall says:

    Jen….this is beautiful. I am really grateful that you shared this. I cannot even imagine what it must have been like to lose your Dad at such a young age but I can relate to the grief and it never does quite go away. While I was so fortunate to have both of my parents well into adulthood, I miss them each and everyday. I absolutely know your Dad is with you and he is constanly smiling and proud of that little 8 year old sitting bored at the parade who has become such an amazing, giving, passionate, and accomplished woman. I wish you could give your Dad a physical hug right now and enjoy a glass of wine with him sitting right in front of you. This terrible loss, however, has made you who you are and who you are is just perfect! I am honored to know you and to be in your life.

  12. Kim says:

    My dad died when I was twelve. I could have said almost everything you said. We just get through. That is all. Namaste, honey.

  13. Christine Robinson says:

    Thank you , Jen, for making me feel it's okay, giving me permission to grieve…. the loss of my mother, my grandmother, a very close friend, my son's and his son's, childhood! I actually feel guilty because I am….grieving, perpetually!

  14. I am so touched by the responses. It seems as if so many of us experience the same feelings. Ah, the human experience. I am so fascinated by all of it. I am moved by the people who took the time to read what I wrote and who come to my classes and allow themselves to FEEL>

  15. Terrie says:

    Thank you for this. My dad died 4 years ago, and I think I should be over it by now, but I miss him so much, I still cry and cry.

  16. harmony says:

    thank you for this amazing article, jennifer…

  17. […] the bottom drop out, I collapsed to the ground and sobbed harder than I had ever before. I thought losing my father was the hardest thing in my life.  You will never be prepared for the sadness that comes with your […]

  18. […] I loved my father more than humanly possible. He died when I was 8 years old. Right before he died, we had an argument because he had promised he would quit smoking and hadn’t ( he smoked 4 packs a day of Kools). So I flushed a pack of cigarettes down the toilet. He got upset with me and I yelled ” I HATE YOU!” […]

  19. […] it with the world. Her words, heartbreaking and gorgeous, shed light on something unspeakable. Having had serious loss in my own life, I know that her words provide solace to those who feel there is no solace, no hope, that grief may […]

  20. Wow.
    Just posted this, and linked your article…

  21. […] called her. She was just there. I remember running into her arms, and the rest is blank. She held me and I cried, and that’s really all my little 8 year old mind wanted to remember. […]

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  23. Jess says:

    Thank you so much for this! The days leading up to father's day have brought grief since my father's passing. Always nice to know others are going through the same thing and still moving forward.

  24. kasilversun says:

    I LOVE this, Jen. My Dad sounds so much like yours except that his vice of choice was Lucky Strike … FILTERLESS. I know he's out there playing practical jokes on all of us, too! I was "daddy's little girl" and when he died 10 years ago, I was devastated and, several weeks after we laid him to rest, my friends started telling me things like … "You need to snap out of it now." Or "Your mom and dad wouldn't want you to be this way." I realized they were speaking out of their own fears and concerns about not knowing how to "deal" with me or "talk" to me (I actually lost both my parents within a month of each other). At the same time, I somehow understood that it was my road to walk and to feel, not theirs, plus mom and dad who were GONE didn't get a vote in how I was feeling at that point. And THEN, not coincidentally, I started practicing yoga. And it helped me to ground the emotions when they rise to the surface ….. like on Father's Day.

    Thank you … SO MUCH … for sharing AND validating the connection we all have through events that access our vulnerability.