16 August 2023
4 min read

It's now just over 6 weeks since my father died. And I'm feeling both so OK and so full of grief. As, with Lisa's help we clear the "stuff" of daily life, there are many poignant moments which keep telling me that this "Dad-less-ness" is utterly final.

The most poignant one was throwing out his false teeth, the teeth which he had smiled and eaten his food for decades. No way to recycle those. Only to say a big "thank you!" to them and then and put them in the bin. It seemed an ignominious end for something that had been so important, so humble and so intimate. 

And of course, I know it is. I was there. I washed his body. I wrapped him in his mother's blanket before the undertaker took his body away. We buried (our half of) his ashes in the 'ancestor's orchard' as he wished. And yet there is something so difficult to actually fully comprehend. 

I remember my father telling me that when his own father died, it took him two years before he felt he had fully let that in. During this time he had a strong dream in which he was trying to remember that he needed to tell his father something important; that his father had died. 
That's a minor of how it feels to me too, I get it and I don't get it. I recognise this as my own wrestling with the existential reality of death; his death, Ya'Acov's death, my own death, all of our deaths. The one thing we know for sure is coming. 

As I distribute some of my father's things with my cousins and family, as we send off his fantastic chair which supported his last year so well, a space opens up in what was "Dad's Den" which speaks of the space of his one-ness. 

There is beauty in remembering him and in the sense of witnessing some of the soul ripples which emanate from this life. That's why I chose this picture of the beauty of the dead oak tree, full of grace and eloquent of life. 

I feel the whole gamut of emotions strongly right now, and that's not always easy for everyone around me. But in the centre of it all I feel the goodness of knowing that Dad had great support and presence with his journey and that he felt truly received with the what he called the "through line" of his life. 

I am infinitely grateful that I did make the film with him in February (when I didn't go to the Amazon because he was so frail). This interview and the resultant film, which Dad eventually said gave him a sense of completeness and that we had "got his essence" has to be the most meaningful application of Embodied Listening that I have been part of. To have this chance to be a listening bowl for someone's meaning making for their own life. To be able to echo that back to them and out into the world in a way that is celebratory, honest, satisfying and which they can receive while they are still alive- what a privilege. 

I'm so grateful to Emilio for filming and editing, to Dad for having the capacity, eloquence and energy to do it, to Ya'Acov for supporting me to stay home, and to the grace of timing. If there is one take out I'd like to pass on, it's this: if you have any inclination to interview or listen to, or be curious about the experience of the elders in your life, don't wait!

With love and thanks for hearing me, Susannah Darling Khan


Susannah Darling Khan

Susannah's life is dedicated to the quest for a world where beauty and compassion flourish....