A Journey In Grief: The Things That Count

grief journey

Warning: I’m going to be writing about a topic, loss, and suicide, one in which could be triggering- so please be warned. I would love for you to read, skim, or skip any parts that make you uncomfortable. Thank you for taking the time to be here. I love and appreciate you.

Today, 18 years ago was a very special and haunting day for me (and many of my loved ones). We lost a treasured soul, whom we all adored and looked up to in many different facets. He was a hardworking, brave, humourous, troubled, and misunderstood man who did a lot more persevering than he probably should have done. I loved my dad very much here on earth and even more now in heaven. Part of me thinks he’s there or that wherever he is that he’s happy and relieved of the issues he left behind. I never knew what I was so lucky to have, the first 13 years of my life went by so fast. I was daddy’s’ girl.

I went through a lot of trauma and PTSD surrounding his death and I had some people to support me and yet, it was made very hard for me to grieve at first. I have bounced around between homes during this point in time in various situations and was told many years later that I was close to being put into foster care. I was put into counseling pretty soon after it happened, first in school which also became a fiasco. Then later I was seen by a bunch of professional groups, a grieving center, and attended a bible study that had a teen focus. That was just the beginning of my own battle with grief and healing the pain of my fathers’ death.

It’s been a long time since I’ve said anything here about him as a person or in the story of his loss, so let’s run through that first. I remember dinners every night, all together, he was always home between 5:30 pm-6 pm. He took me bowling a lot, which we both really liked. The long trips to the cabin 3 hrs away as a family as well as just he and I. I know he was very present in my childhood and I was his only biological daughter although we never were treated any differently. He included us and helped us all as we grew up. He loved to fly-fish and fish rainbow trout on the river specifically but didn’t hunt anything else to my knowledge. He was bright, gifted really; challenger of minds, well informed and opinionated. When questioned he could quickly explain his stance until you let on that it made sense to you too.

However, he could be stern, shy, quiet, sometimes cold, and pretty removed in the fact that he liked his alone time and didn’t like to be bothered while pursuing his hobbies. He became a slave to his addictions in secret and told not a soul. It quickly got out of hand which led to his demise, very much sad and unfortunate. From my point of view being his child, he was strict and when no was said, that’s what it meant. Feelings got hurt but there was always a time to say sorry to follow.

lIf you have lost a loved one before, whether it was a long time ago or yesterday- know I am always here for you. We may not know each other and I don’t know your life situation but you can find comfort here. Loss in any form is a terrible thing to experience-but never the less, we all do because we can’t stop the way of life.

If you haven’t experienced loss yet, and again I say yet because at some point in your entire life you will. Whether it’s a pet or friend, acquaintance, or family member, it is unfortunately inevitable. In that case, be thankful and keep each and every moment precious and stored in pictures, video, or deep in your long-term memory. Here are a few tips that I suggest what I may do differently or pay even more attention to:

  1. Say the things you mean and mean what you say
    One of my biggest regrets is saying some things beforehand that I didn’t get a chance to take back or apologize for. Words have power and you never know when life is going to throw you a curveball and take someone from you or from someone you know. Always say I love you because you really never know when the ‘last time’ is. Have the hard conversations, explain your position, and speak up when spoken to. People deserve to know who you are and how you feel.
  2. Check on your people (especially when it seems suddenly better or worse for no reason)
    In my own situation, I didn’t notice a change, I didn’t see warning signs. There may or may not be any but back to the previous point- the more you talk, the easier it may be to spot. Nowadays, mental health and self-care are much more acceptable than it was in the past even 15 yrs ago-I think things were a lot more private in the 90s. You can really reach a therapist or help in any capacity now. I encourage you to always talk to people, don’t push but if necessary then ABSOLUTELY INSIST. Being only 14, I couldn’t have really done much and I had no exposure to this type of emergency prior to this happening. OR If you ever need help I suggest you seek professional care or call National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK.
  3. Spend more time with people you love
    Distractions NO MORE! Put the damn phones down and pay attention, listen to grandpa’s stories, and what it was like in The Depression. With me, I missed the last few months with my dad only because I was being a rebellious teenager with bad friends and honestly I missed so much by being with them instead of at home. It’s important to make this a priority and this blends into my next point.
  4. Creating memories (traditions, family, individual, one on one, etc)
    PIctures, moments, good times, bad times, and all the in-between. Having the physical memories only amplifies the ones in your head when things start to fade (and believe me they will- even when you don’t want to forget). Traditions to follow are a critical part of a family, the people you have for Christmas, the foods you eat for Easter, what you do after school on Friday nights. They are all creating those moments with someone you keep in your memories.

Everyone should be really aware of these things I’ve told you and I think at the very least you’ll gain positivity from the experiences you’ve had in addition. Loss can never be replaced or refunded but coping is a new habit of life and healing will come in the form to some extent. I hope you enjoyed reading about my dad and my journey. I’m beginning counseling again here in a week and I think following up on my grief and healing will be great for me, hard but necessary.

Please share any memories, stories, worries, or fears down below that you feel comfortable sharing. I’d love to continue to be here to support you. I hope you got something out of this post and will share it with someone you know.

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