Dear Dad- 6 months of missing you

Dear Dad,

Well six months have passed since I have heard your voice or have seen your big smile. In fact, right around St. Patrick’s Day was close to the sixth-month anniversary of your journey to heaven. I know you spent St. Patricks’ day wearing your fun Irish hats, beads and spreading your Irish humor and fun. There is not one single day that I don’t think of you. To be honest, the first 3 months after you had left us I cried myself to sleep every single night. I think when you lose someone so close, you hang onto those last memories that you had with them. My memories were watching your 10-day transition to Heaven and although it was very sweet, calm and full of love — it was also heartbreaking. I do feel blessed that I had that time with you, as I know not everyone does. I truly thought I had more time with you, so it was hard to wrap my brain around the fact that it came so quickly. You were my person for 24 years– my Mom and my Dad. The amount of calls that came between us may have been more than a typical Father and Daughter- who knows, but what is typical. All I know is that you were always there. You were there to ask about my jobs, my boys, my daily life and all the ups and downs. You were so easy to talk to, that’s probably why you had so many friends and loved ones singing your praises. So yes, for the first few months I was extremely sad and trying to navigate life without you. But once the New Year hit- I knew that I had to try a little harder to work on my mindset. I could remain sad and replay those last 10 days over and over, or I could try to replace those memories with really happy memories. We have so many happy memories, so each day I would pick a few while I was out walking and focus on those. I would try to talk to you more, ask you to show me signs you were OK or if I saw a certain bird I wondered if that was you saying hi.

Grief does crazy things- the mix of sadness, disbelief and denial, anger, and all of the things that just come out of nowhere seem to make no sense. But that’s what grief is- it makes no sense and it is different for everyone. I learned to just let it happen when it happened and to take care of me. Focusing on the happy times helped to train my brain to find those memories vs. re-playing those last 10 days in my head.

In February, I started to journal. Each morning I would just write you a little letter and tell you what was on my mind that day in missing you, or remembering things we did or laughed about. I shared things that I knew you’d get a kick out of, and ask you questions about being in Heaven. This journal has helped me cope and heal a bit more and I look forward to continuing it.

Grief takes time and we can’t be hard on ourselves. If we find ourselves sad out of the blue- holidays are especially hard for me (even Valentine’s Day was)– it is OK. This is the year of firsts– and every single first without your person will be hard. You are trying to find your way without this person and it’s not a choice you were given- it’s something you have to deal with, cope with and find ways to keep your person close to you. Mine are journaling, taking walks and looking for things in nature as signs you are with me, and remembering all the good memories.

I hope that by sharing my grief journey here and there, I am inspiring or helping someone else on their grief journey too. Be good to yourself. I make sure I focus on sleep (which seems to be better now than those first 1-3 months), getting exercise, and taking care of my emotional and physical needs. The last thing I want or need is to fall hard because of stress and not dealing with my grieving in a healthy way. So even though it may be hard to find motivation certain days– just make sure you take care of you!

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