In Memory Of…

How do you miss someone, who you have been resisting most of your (adult) life?
I think, my grandfather is the person, I have thought about most throughout the last 20 years. Not only about him, but also about what he would say and think and do, in relation to who I am. This became clear to me last year, when he had died and I noticed this thought, of what he probably would say – realizing that he wouldn’t be saying anything anymore.

This week it would have been his 87th birthday, which made me think of him a lot during the past days and trying to figure out how to deal. And it’s a really weird sensation. I did not have an easy-going relationship with him. I think he has been the person who I struggled with the most. At the same time, he has been a very impressive and in many ways inspiring person, who I am still learning from.

He was a big guy, heading a big company, wanting to be the patriarch for a big family and shaping reality after his wishes.
I think there are many situations, where he managed this and when I was at his funeral, heard the obituaries and saw the amount of flowers that were sent, I realized how many lives he did touch. How many people were thankful and appreciated his efforts, generosity and the energy he put into anything he touched and wanted to realize. This was a healing moment for me, it really touched me.

I had taken a decision a few years back, that I don’t want to be so influenced by him anymore emotionally. Before that I had often hoped that I could change him, or his opinion. I hoped that he would see my arguments as well. And when he didn’t, I got angry or hurt and in this way, his opinion could really determine how well I was. I guess, I was hoping to eventually get his approval, not only for the things that I knew he liked, but for being and living in ways, that were really outside of his perspective.
Maybe I was actually trying to shape him a little bit into my reality…
So, I took the decision to step away and go my own path. In a way, let him be more who he is, but mostly feeling that I let myself be more who I am without the constant need to fight and defend. After this, the fights or open discussions with him became fewer, but I actually still had many moments of resisting his way of dealing with people. I found him either patronizing or conservative and very rarely did I feel like he really respects someone, who is very different from him.

In the past months I have thought about him every once in a while. I’m sorry that I had this perspective of him and that we actually haven’t had a real conversation in the past couple of years. I think I have learned something of dealing with criticism and controversy in the past years, that would have helped me discuss with him, without feeling so childish or emotional.
I would have liked to have a discussion with him, where I don’t defend myself or feel the need to get his approval, but where we both can have each our opinion.

Talking with my close friend this week, I noticed that I actually already missed him in the passed years. I missed the grandpa who I loved so much as a child. The one, who told stories of the little hedgehogs, on who’s (huge) back we would draw or write and he’d guess…
So I grew up and we had very different opinions on different subjects, he hurt me a few times. I don’t want to be romanticizing, now that he is dead. But even though our values were different in many ways and he hurt my heart, he played an extremely important role in my life.

And sometimes I’m thinking, that I would like to have a conversation with him as two adults, to heal.
I would like to ask him, if anything I said ever hurt him as well. I would like to tell him, that I have experienced, that even when trying to do everything right, it is possible to hurt someone I love.
I would like to tell him, that I learned through him not to be afraid of impressive people, who appear to think they know everything. And that I really, really value this lesson.
I would like to tell him, that I find it impressive, how many things he created in his life, how incredibly much energy he had. I would like to tell him, that I’m trying to do it in a different way, but that I would like to know I touch a lot of people throughout my life.
I would like to tell him, that I’m sorry he didn’t have a closer contact to his brother, and that he lost his son. That I can feel this pain, even though he never talked about it.
I would like to tell him, that even though I still disagree with many things, I don’t resent him anymore.
I would like to tell him, that I was impressed by the strength of his hands, when I saw him for the last time a month before his death. When the rest of his body was already just lying there and he couldn’t talk. That I was happy that he looked at me, actually saw me and held my hand so strongly.

I would like to ask him, how he is.

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