For Millennials. By Millennials.
Ethan and Grayson Dolan broke the sad news a year ago about their father Sean Dolan passing away from cancer. Now, they have made a documentary in his honor to showcase what a beautiful soul their father was. Wherever he was and whatever role he had to play, he was adamant about brightening the lives of those around him. The main theme of the documentary, ‘Losing a Bestfriend’ is focused on how Sean Dolan helped everyone in his life, whether it be his brother, student or colleague. But the documentary by Dolan twins also sheds light on an important subject: losing a parent.
The pain of losing a parent is accurately depicted
Personally speaking, I have not lost a parent to cancer but my mother did pass away while I was young. Clearly, there are things that I cannot relate to with Grayson and Ethan Dolan. But there were some moments where I finally felt understood.
As the therapist for the Dolan twins shared in the documentary, grieving is something that everyone does in their own way. No two people grieve the same way and that is something each one of us needs to hear.
The confusion on what to feel
The Dolan twins, in their vulnerability, shared that they were confused about what to feel and how to feel it. There were moments of numbness that they chose to indulge in because giving in to the pain felt too heartbreaking. I can’t speak on others’ experiences but I can talk about how relatable those exact feelings were for me. Whilst experiencing the pain of losing my own mom, there were at times where I could have chosen to suppress them or let them in. And there were many instances where I had to pick the numbness. It was as if there was a glacier of feelings right in front of me and it could burst at any second.
However, not letting them in did help live my day-to-day life. But there was another inexplicable feeling that came: guilt.
The guilt of being numb
The twins on multiple times shared that they felt guilty about pushing these emotions and thoughts away. Ethan Dolan expressed how he has not been able to fully process what he was going through and that he felt guilty about it. That is something that I worked hard to resolve myself. Grief is a complicated process and there’s no right way to do it.
The guilt of wanting your loved ones to not suffer
Moreover, he also shared how seeing his father suffer in an incurable disease such as cancer was something he could not take. He wished that his dad would pass away peacefully as possible. Now, knowing that your parent is in agony and physical pain is extremely hard on its own. You would do anything to wish that pain away. Unfortunately, in this case, the only option was for Sean Dolan to leave this Earth. Ethan Dolan only wanted his father to not feel pain and he couldn’t do that without feeling immense guilt. It’s a paradox of emotions that one goes through when your loved one suffers from a chronic illness such as cancer.
Ethan Dolan says:
The messed up part was that the only option was either continuing in that phase or death. There was no getting better. Because getting better wasn’t an option like you have. To almost hope that they could just pass away in the most peaceful way – I had such a hard time accepting the fact that like some part of my brain was hoping that my dad passed away.
The cauldron of complex emotions
Ethan Dolan shares that the traumatic pain brought about different emotions for him to experience, something that he had never been through before. The Dolan twin went through panic attacks.
Grief completely sucks the life out of you and you are completely helpless to it:
You’re very like passionate about something but then when you’re grieving. You just lose interest. I’ve lost interest….like and a lot of things.
These feelings of extreme depression are common for people who have lost their parent or loved one. This was something that I personally could relate to as well. The inexplicable apathy that I suddenly felt and for me not wanting to do things that I used to.
Dolan Twins talk about Memory triggering
This is something that I thought would not affect me but it ended up doing so. I have no memory of my mother but still seeing her pictures does induce feelings of pain and heartache occasionally.
Grayson Dolan shares how looking at pictures would often trigger him:
I was just always looking at photos and some of them would trigger me. It was just too much. And then that’s when I got really numb. And ever since then I’ve been like avoiding looking at them. Because I just don’t want to not feel anything and not be able to remember. I just like had this huge block because it’s kind of been happening for us mentally.
That usually happens when you’re unable to let the emotions in. This is something that I have personally experienced as well. The heartache feelings pop up at the most random of times but you cannot give in to them because you’re not alone or because you do not know if you yourself would be able to handle them or not.
The documentary beautifully shot and directed, showed the following scenes where Grayson Dolan breaks down crying.
Grayson utters while sobbing:
I just fucking miss him, dude.
Those are just the sentiments that one thinks. There’s sadness, grief, pain, confusion all mixed into one huge emotion and once you let that in, the tears just come rushing down your face. Grief is so powerful that you cannot control yourself even when you desperately try to. Your heart hurts so strongly and it just wants to meet the loved one that you lost.
The Dolan twins shared:
The only times that I’ve really been able to feel emotions are times where I was like triggered by a memory. Or a memory hit me harder than it normally would. And that’s having from photos a video. Sometimes they’re not ready to do.
I have done this as well when I wanted to process the emotions and couldn’t, I purposefully induced them myself. For the Dolan twins, having them triggered was painful but ultimately it was a healing process. I can personally attest that despite the pain it causes, processing them does end up heal you. The pain won’t ever end but you can learn how to cope with it.
Not being emotionally present for others
Everyone wants to be the best brother/sister/son/daughter/friend they can be. Similarly, the Dolan twins shared how they felt bad for not being able to be there for others and not having the mental capacity:
I can’t like even be there for my friends because I just like I’m just elsewhere. You go through your day. You know what you’re telling yourself “But I should be doing this”, “I should be feeling this for”, “I should be there for other people”.
The therapist assured Ethan and Grayson Dolan that it is okay for them to not always be there for others. Now, it is time for others to be there for them and help them through this painful times in their lives.
This is something that everyone who has recently lost a loved one or is missing them should know.
A personal Thank you to the Dolan Twins
Ethan Dolan shares that what helped him the most was when he knew there were other people feeling the same way he did. His not feeling alone in this is what helped him find the strength to push through. That is something that I completely relate to as well. I’ve always found strength in my family knowing that they went through the same thing. People like Dolan twins talking about their own pain and journey does help to validate the millions of emotions I have felt over my own mother’s passing.
There is a special power in being vulnerable and allowing others to witness your journey of coping with the most difficult time in your life. It provides strength for others. Personally, it helped me a lot. Perhaps it was just the validation of knowing I’m not alone in feeling this.
I can safely say that many others are feeling the exact same way.
Donate to ‘Love From Sean’ Organization | Dolan Twins’ new organization
The Dolan twins’ biggest role model and best friend was their father, Sean Dolan. A soul that touched the lives of many. Thanks to various cancer organizations, Sean’s life was prolonged. There are many cancer patients out there that do not have the resources to get adequate care and treatment. The Dolan twins were adamant to honor Sean’s legacy of making the world a better place and started ‘Love from Sean’ organization.
In 2019 my Dad lost his fight with cancer. He loved helping people more than anything. So, Ethan and I have created #LoveFromSean a foundation where all proceeds go to his favorite cancer orgs. This is what he would’ve wanted.
— Grayson Dolan (@GraysonDolan) February 17, 2020