It’s been a year now since I lost my daddy. If you had asked me right after he passed away how I was doing, I would have replied that I was pretty miserable, because even though I had ample time to prepare myself for his passing, it’s never like you expect it to be. Over the past year I have grown and changed and learned many things about grief, and some of the things I have learned have been quite surprising to me.
It’s Never Enough
My dad lived with Myelodysplastic Syndrome for five years before he passed away. We packed a lot of great memories and moments together into those five years, but it will always seem like we didn’t have enough time. This is normal. When I find myself feeling cheated of having him still here, I have to remind myself that we got more time with him than we probably should have and be thankful for the fact that just until a month before he passed away that he was able to do everything he wanted to do on a daily basis despite his illness.
You Can’t Live With Regret
If I allowed myself to, I could sit and replay every moment with my dad from the time I could first remember as a child until he took his last breath and be sorry for some of the things I did and said over the years. I could feel guilty for not spending even more time with him than I did and turn over and over in my mind all of the things I should have said and done, but didn’t. I think it’s just natural when we lose someone that we will always wished we would have done a few things differently. However, if I allowed myself the luxury of doing this, I would certainly spiral into a depression that I’m not sure I could find my way out of. I have to keep reminding myself when I start to think like this that my daddy knew I loved him, I know he loved me, and again, be thankful for the forty years he was in my life. My personal belief helps this part of the grief process for me in that I know I will see him again someday, and this is simply a pause in the bigger scheme of things. I just have to make the choice every single day to remember the good and be thankful.
Holidays Are Hard- The Anticipation is Worse
Those first holidays without a loved one will be tough. There’s just no getting around that fact. However, what I have noticed over the past year is that the anticipation of those upcoming holidays and the anniversary of my daddy’s death have been more difficult for me than the actual day itself. Father’s Day was my first taste of this last year, and for the past few weeks I have been under a heavy cloud of sadness knowing that the anniversary of his death was approaching. However, as those days came around, I found myself remembering him with a smile instead of tears like I thought I would. I had already cried and felt the deep sadness before the actual day, so when the day came I just felt a sense of peace even though I miss him. I’m sure this may be different for everyone, but it was one of the most surprising things I have learned about myself and how I deal with grief.
Frustration Will Set In
For the first few weeks after my daddy passed away it frustrated me that he wasn’t there anymore. My daddy just knew how to take care of things, and I really miss his advice and wisdom. We loved talking politics and it’s frustrating that he’s not here to see the three ring circus going on this presidential year. He always had a knack for hanging pictures, changing a light bulb I couldn’t reach, or just telling me that I was making a bad decision. I miss those little, mundane moments that more than I even thought I would. There are times I find myself very frustrated that he isn’t here for me to call on when I need him. There are just some things that I relied on him for and not being able to see him and talk to him is tough. This is a part of grief that I’m not sure gets any easier.
You Have To Keep Going
In all honesty, all I wanted to do after my daddy died and the funeral was over was just to crawl in my bed and not come out. Was that an option for me? Absolutely not. I’m so thankful for my son and husband and mom who still need me. I also know deep down that my daddy would have been very disappointed if I had just completely shut down after he passed away. He was hard worker and so the following Monday after he passed away I got out of bed that morning and went to work. Was I still extremely sad and fragile? Of course. But I knew how proud he was of me and the job I did, so I decided to go in and get back to that normal part of my daily routine. I’m sure I looked scary without my mascara on, but I knew I would be due for a good cry after work, so I didn’t bother putting it on. I actually went mascara-free for over a month just because I had to have my little cry every single day for a few weeks after he died. Choosing to go forward is tough. It’s difficult and hard and it may take some longer to do than others, but I knew that somebody needed me, and my family depending on me is what helped me to push onward.
What has been so tough to wrap my head around when it comes to grief is that everything is different now. Everything. I look at the world differently, I look at people differently, and deep down I am changed. I realize that my dad’s presence provided a very secure feeling for me, just as a father should, and some days it hurts so much to know that everything will never be the same. He isn’t here to see my son grow up, he will always be missed, and although we’ve learned to keep going without him, there isn’t a day that goes by that he isn’t thought of. I’ve learned that grief is messy and hard and not the same for everyone, and some days are just tougher than others. I’ve also learned there is no set date when everything will suddenly all feel magically better. This is tough, too, because you keep thinking that at some point at least some of these feelings will go away eventually. They may not sting as much as the years pass by, but the biggest lesson I’ve learned is that grief really never goes away.
Photo Credit: @gtranquillity/Dollar Photo Club