An Open Letter On Grief

My life forever changed on April 6th of this year. I still struggle to come up with words to describe the pain of losing my dad. Sadness feels too small. The pain is sharp and feels like I am gasping for air. I have experienced grief before but never this intimately. Never this raw. I was ignorant to the kind of pain those feel when losing a parent unexpectedly. When losing a parent at a young age. When the loss of that person shakes you to your core. I hope my ramblings help you peer inside the window of someone who is actively experiencing this grief. I hope I can also help validate the grief of those who have walked this journey before me.

This blog has always been an open outlet for me to talk about anxiety. To talk about mental health. To share stories about being a millennial. To now incorporate my journey with grief is something I wish I wouldn’t have to talk about. It feels cruel and unfair. I am now a part of a club that I wish I could cancel my membership to. I would like to speak to the manager - please!

Since my dad passed, I’ve been keeping a journal to help process my thoughts and feelings. Grief is every range of emotion all wrapped into one. My heart is forever broken. My heart is forever changed. I now exist in a world where grief and joy dance slowly together. In some moments joy shines through but the grief feels so jealous of that moment that it takes center stage. I am trying to learn how to exist in this space. Imagine walking around with a rain cloud hovering over you. Some days there are downpours. Some days the sun peeks through. But the sorrow and pain is consistent and ever present.

The first six weeks after his passing were a total blur. I spent every day crying. Some tears came on slowly and left very calmly. I would be reminded of his absence when sitting down to eat dinner and realizing he will never sit in his seat again. But there is also the ugly, grief cry (if you know exactly what I’m talking about, you’ve been there!) The crying that makes your body forget to breathe. The tears that cannot stop; like a steady faucet. The constant crying from morning to night. No matter what I would do, I could not turn off the pain of longing for him. The sheer desperation of needing him back. The pain was and still is unbearable.

The next chapter I’m experiencing is wrapped up in guilt and denial. It is too painful to accept this as my life. It is too overwhelming to move through the rest of my days without my dad by my side. There is the cruel reminder that in any upcoming big, milestones, my dad will have a different view. He will be watching my life play out instead of actively being involved. The guilt stage of grief, like every stage, is exhausting. I feel guilty that I find joy in moments. I feel guilty when I spend a day blocking out the pain and not talking to him. And I know my dad is still with me. The signs he has shown me would completely blow you away. The signs are so consistent. And I am so thankful that I am tuned in to receiving them and open to finding him in every moment. But that doesn’t minimize the sorrow and anger of needing him here physically.

This weekend marks our first Father’s Day without him. My initial plan was to completely avoid this holiday and ignore that it was even happening. But with the help of others, and my therapist, I want to find a way to feel connected to my dad and honor the amazing father he is. I am filled with the deepest sadness you can imagine that we cannot celebrate how we would have every single year. Buying him grill supplies. Or t-shirts. Or more grill supplies. It is hard to not pick out a card for him and try to make him cry with our sappy notes as he reads it. Everything about this feels unfair.

Everything about this grief is hard. I just miss my dad. But one thing I am holding on to is my dad is still with me. My dad lives on. He lives in every moment of my life. He lives in nature when the wind blows through the trees and I think of his smile. He lives in every conversation that fills our house up with joy. He is a part of every decision. He will continue to be my voice of reason and advice giver when I don’t know where to turn. It is hard as hell to accept this as our new relationship but what is holding me together is the fact that this life is temporary. I know I will see him again. I know I will run to his arms one day and hear him say, “what took you so long?"

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