Here I am, three-and-a-half years after suddenly losing my dad when he was only 52 years old. Here I am. Here is this person, this woman, this wife, mother, daughter, granddaughter, sister, auntie, and friend. She stands tall, unbroken, stronger, healthier, and happy. Where I am now is a journey—sometimes a struggle—that continues on a daily basis.
I don’t think you can understand fully the feelings of losing a parent unless you’ve lost one. The same goes for any loss; I don’t think you can fully grasp the feeling until you’ve been through the exact same loss. For me; losing my dad immediately threw me into a whirlwind of taking care of everyone, on top of my own grieving. I took it all on, and after a year and a half, that took its toll on me, mentally and physically—so much so that I was hospitalized for a virus, extremely high blood pressure, palpitations, and stress. I was done. I was in a downward spiral, and my body was screaming and waving the white flag. It had surrendered.
After that, I made the conscious decision to end the madness. My dad was gone; he wasn’t coming back. I was killing myself, and it all needed to stop. I am one person. I had to start putting myself first. I couldn’t spend my life living in my mother’s never-ending grief. I am a wife and mother, which are the most important roles in the world to me. What was I doing?doing yoga, and I did my first 5k. I started eating correctly. My mother and I attended a support group together for about a month. It really wasn’t my “thing,” so I started to write as my therapy. I started a blog and wrote my bleeding heart out. I started thinking differently. Writing helped me cope and move forward. My life took on new meaning. It wasn’t overnight, and it wasn’t easy, but my way of thinking and living changed. My views changed. I changed.
It feels like a long three years most of the time. It has been a long and hard journey that wasn’t without sweat and tears. It came with highs and lows—it still does. It was a journey of physical successes and, most importantly, mental health wellness.
Grief can do many things to a person. You have to fight for your own life. You have to accept it. You have deal with it in whatever way works best for you, because it will destroy you if you let it.
The things I have discovered about myself are amazing. The things that I have addressed, admitted, and apologized to myself for are accepted. I am 39 years old, and I finally feel like the person I want to be—the person I was meant to be. And I am free.
It’s inconceivable to find positives in such a loss. It’s not what is acceptable. I do wish my dad was here every single day of my life, but I have accepted that he isn’t. His death has changed me and, in an indescribable way, has changed me as a person for the better.
It wasn’t overnight, and it wasn’t easy, but my way of thinking and living changed. My views changed. I changed.
I live life in the moment. I plan things, yet I am so spontaneous. I do things with my husband and children all the time. I’ve learned to let the house go, because sometimes there are more important things to do than clean the floor. I always spew my feelings, and I don’t hold anything back. I don’t let things eat at me; I can’t. I NEVER leave things unsaid. I don’t care what people think of me. I am not jealous. I will not beg someone to be my friend. I let things go. I will not tolerate liars or petty nonsense in my life. I say what I mean, and mean what I say. I am open. I take pictures of my children all the time. I capture almost all moments. I smile a lot. I forgive. I don’t sweat the small stuff. I notice things now that I never thought much of, like sunsets or pretty skies. I am optimistic. I find the positive in most things. I don’t want to wait to do things, like take trips or try new things. It’s now; why wait? I am kind. I am not a fake; what you see is what you get. I am honest. I will not leave this earth with regrets. If I love you, you know it. I may disagree, but will respect the differences in opinion. I still write now, it’s like continuous therapy. I am thankful and appreciative.
There are so many things that have come to surface in my mind and in my life. Losing my dad so suddenly, and at his young age, has done nothing more than make me live in the moment. I know I am not guaranteed another day, but instead am lucky if I get one. I don’t think there is anything he would rather see from the heavens above than for his family living life in the best possible way: healthy and happy.
I don’t think there is necessarily a positive, per se, in losing my dad. But I sure have found meaning through it, which gives me such peace. I have been able to sort through my loss and become this stronger, different person. A person who felt cheated and lost, but who now has the ability to choose love over hate, understanding over anger, and belief over fear. That is what his death has come to mean to me, and I think he is/was beside me, showing me the way. The last and best gift he has given me is myself. I will always be grateful to him for that.
Jennifer Martin is a mom of two boys, ages 16 and 6. She writes from the heart and her experiences raising her boys. She loves to laugh, be happy, and spend time adventuring with her family. She keeps a blog at http://beingjmarts.blogspot.com/.
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