Celebrate Recovery, Encouragement, Family, My Story, Uncategorized

This is grief…

dad.jpg Fall is by far my favorite season.  Temperatures are suppose to be cooling off (we are in AR though!), pumpkins are everywhere, sweaters are a staple and apple cider is served at all the parties.  But in the midst of my favorite season is October 4th.  4 years ago this day started having a significance in my life.  It is the day my dad died.

If you have followed my blog  you know that it was a tragic day.  My dad ended his own life a few months shy of his 60th birthday.

Grief.  If you haven’t ever experienced it, there is no way to truly understand it and it certainly looks different for everyone.  I didn’t understand it before my dads death.  I thought I understood it- there are 7 stages to it.  I am sure you just work your way through each stage. That is what I thought.  I couldn’t have told you the stages or anything about it.  Grief was sad, I knew that much.  It seemed like some people struggled with grief more than others but I never had taken time to really understand.

I made a counseling appointment within days of my dads death.  I knew I needed it, even though at that time, I had no idea how much.  I remember being shocked when my amazing counselor explained that the stages of grief didn’t happen in a particular order  and it wasn’t like you work through one stage and then you are done with it.  Sometimes you bounce around several times, through several stages, over several months, potentially years.  He said on average, the initial grief lasts 12-18 months.  DO WHAT?  No way!  This was not what I wanted to hear.  You see, I am a tell me what I need to do to overcome this and I will do it kind of girl.  Grief seemed to have no real rules, guidelines, boundaries, OR a step by step guide.  I was discouraged knowing it wasn’t going to be over quick.  That he wasn’t going to hand me an outline that I could neatly work through.

I am so thankful that my counselor explained grief to me.  It allowed me to have grace for myself in the process and not get so hung up “doing it right” or feeling like it wasn’t going as fast as I thought it should.  I tend to place expectations on myself that are fairly high (working on this!) and I know without his guidance, navigating grief would have left me a bigger hot mess.

It has been 4 years and there is still grief.  I still experience all the stages at times.  I honestly don’t know if it will ever go away completely,  it is a major loss.  But grief today looks so different compared to grief the first year.  At first, I was a roller coaster of emotions and EVERYTHING reminded me of my dad.  I worked hard to get past the initial PTSD responses I had.  We found my dad, the day was very traumatic.  It left a lot to work through.  Once I was past that, every time we ate a food he liked, drove past a place he enjoyed, or really anything- I would either cry devastating tears that my dad wasn’t here to experience it or I would laugh and smile recounting the memories we shared.  It was  fairly constant up and down emotion.  When I say EVERYTHING reminded me of him, I  mean it.

Suicide probably complicates grief a little because there are so many what if’s.  The what if’s are so difficult and it took me a long time to let it go. I put in lots of work, trusting my counselor in the process and now the what if’s don’t consume me.  They creep up from time to time, but I remind myself of truth and move on.

4 years later….. I still think about my dad and wish he was still here so there would be a chance our complex, not traditional father/daughter relationship, could have a opportunity to heal.  I think about my dad often and usually I process the emotions that come, and go on. I still get sad he never met our 5th baby or that he is missing out on so many amazing things my kids are doing.  I can’t go eat BBQ or catfish without thinking about how much he would be enjoying it right now.  We think about good times and good memories- like the way he ate 1/2 a peanut butter sandwich with a glass of OJ every morning, like clock work, and never missed his Irish Breakfast hot tea. The library is such a fond memory too, because as long as he could get there, he went daily.  He loved to read and remembering him reading to my kids is the best.

But sometimes, I am overwhelmed by a rush of grief over his death, that takes me by surprise, leaves me breathless, with a face dripping wet in tears.  Sometimes the what if’s flood my mind and cause me to be angry.  There are times that I just don’t understand and none of it seems real.  At times, I have found myself smack dab in the middle of grief, 4 years later.

“Don’t worry, it gets easier with time.”  This is something people say to comfort others.  I often wonder if those people have experienced grief.  I guess maybe easier is an ok way to say it, but I just think it gets different.  I am never going to not be sad my dad died.  Honestly, that is just a weird thought.  I think saying it gets easier potentially puts expectations on grief.  Loosing someone you love is never easy.  Time doesn’t make it easy.  Time has made it different.  Grief over my dad will probably always be here, but I am thankful there is peace.  I am thankful I have healed so much.  And I am thankful there is grace- even when the grief creeps in and I am crying crocodile tears.

If you are struggling with grief and haven’t seen a counselor, I highly recommend it.  Give yourself grace, but also allow yourself to process and heal.  It is truly a process and I for one, haven’t given it an end date.  Grief hasn’t kept me stuck, but I have accepted that it hasn’t fully left and maybe it never will.

{I am not a counselor or professional.  These are my opinions, thoughts, and experiences that I am sharing simply to encourage others.}

For more on this topic see these posts:

My Truths about Suicide & Depression

Suicide Still Hurts

When God Fulfills His Promises

 

 

 

 

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