But, I’m Still Grieving…

I’ve always heard people say that grief is like the ocean. I never really understood that, because to me the ocean is beautiful and peaceful. So how does that compare? It wasn’t until recently that I started to understand. It’s the nature of the ocean, not the actual view you get on vacation. Grief can feel like a storm that just came out of nowhere, everything is crashing against you and you can’t stop it. The storm is furious and takes over, flooding every aspect of your day, your life. It might pass quickly and leave you wondering, “What just happened? It was so calm yesterday?” It could take days to slowly wind down. Grief is unpredictable, in a sense, like the ocean.

When you’re grieving the loss of someone you love it’s hard to get used to the way things change around you. But yet, everything stays the same. The change is something that’s in the back of your mind all the time now because somebody is missing, but life must still on go on for you. When you are a parent and partner to somebody, you still have responsibilities that need your attention. But, you’re still grieving… Well, it’s been almost a year since I lost my Dad, and I’m still grieving.

It was very unexpected, which I assume happens that way for everybody. My Dad was so young, 58 is young to me. His health was not the best and I feel like he tried to tell us without putting too much stress on his kids. He lived out of state, he moved when I was about eleven and I think I was still mad. I took it, and everything else about his decisions, personal. I loved him very much though, and had a good relationship with him. I spent most of my life missing him, and now I would never know any different.

I truly miss everything about him, his big grumbly laugh, his Midwestern turned southern accent, mostly his hugs. Nobody hugs quite like him, it actually hurt sometimes. My oldest nephew is a pretty close second to the bear hugs though. As much as I miss him and I’m still trying to wrap my head around his sudden and permanent absence from our life, I have five kids that need their Mom. I have a husband that counts on me to be his partner in life. But, I’m still grieving.

I’m also still a daughter, to my Mom who deserves my attention too. My kids have school plays, swim meets, doctor appointments… But, I’m still grieving. How can they expect me to act normal and just do everything they need? After all, I did “just” lose my Dad.

Life doesn’t wait for grief. In a few weeks it will be exactly one year since my brother called to tell me that our Dad had a heart attack. My siblings and I hit the road the next day, my brother drove through the night, my nephews kept us in good spirits and we introduced my sister to Starbucks. We had some much needed bonding time, we were able to be his kids again in that moment. Since then I think we realized we still need each other as adults more than we thought. A lot happens in a year, and I should be fine now. It’s not new, I should be used to this. But, I’m still grieving.

There are so many days that I feel like I’m getting better with controlling my emotions. Then comes the emotional storm, when I least expect it. Sometimes when I walk into a room I feel like I should tell everyone, “I’m still grieving so please, just be patient.” There are times when I feel like people can actually tell just by looking at me. Then I have the days that I dread anybody asking how I’m doing. I should be fine, and I say that I am, but on the inside I can feel the emotional storm coming.

The hardest part is quietly suffering. A friend or my husband will call to just say hi, and I want to yell, “Don’t you understand that I’m still grieving, my Dad just died!” I feel like people should walk on eggshells around me, but I also get angry when they think I’m weak and still struggling. At times, I tell anyone that will listen, because I’m worried I’ve annoyed my close friends and family by still being so upset. I try to just go on about my daily Mom business because I don’t ever want my kids to remember me as sad or angry. The truth is, I have cried a lot in front of them this past year. It was not easy for me, but it’s really OK.

I’m a grieving daughter, I’m human and full of emotion. I’m a Mom, wife, sister, aunt, friend… I’m learning that sometimes you have to just let it out. I’m realizing my kids won’t think that I’m a weak person, or that I’m a sad and angry Mom. It’s a part of life that everyone goes through. Sometimes as parents we beat ourselves up and we try to protect our kids from feeling our pain. Nobody wants their kids experience painful events, but grieving for someone is just something we can’t avoid.

After trying to be “strong” and getting through it on my own, I finally listened to my husband and decided to talk to somebody about this. I was so tired of being angry, crying and trying to understand what happened. I wanted a timeline, like an actual day that I could expect to be done going through the process of grief. I realize that was a ridiculous statement as it came out of my mouth. I have a lot of things that still stir up my emotions, but the days seem to be getting easier.

I still miss my Dad and that will never go away, it’s an intense feeling more often than not. I feel like I missed so much time with him, and I know my siblings feel the same. I know we will never get that time back. All we can do is move forward and make the most of the time we have, and make sure we spend it with people we love.

Being a grieving daughter and trying to get through the daily duties as a Mom is hard. Harder than I ever imagined. That’s the thing, the thing I’m starting to learn about grief. It’s hard, at times almost impossible to carry on like normal, but I’m still here. I have to live my life and enjoy my family, even if it feels like a storm is coming. The storm will pass, I’ll still be here. I may feel a little rattled, a lot rattled even, but there will be sunny days filled with happy memories still.

About four days before my Dad passed away he sent me a text message. I will always remember, and hold his words close to my heart.

“Hi honey. Please always keep the kids as close as you can. They grow up so fast. Don’t make my mistakes. I miss you so much and love you so much more…Dad”

This is one of my favorite pictures of us. I was four, and he was my silly best friend!

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