2015 has been a year that I will certainly never forget. It’s been a doozy! While it had plenty of great times, it was also my hardest year of all of my 36 years. As many of you know, last December 2014, my dad unexpectedly passed away in his sleep. He and I had a special bond that only a dad and daughter can have. It’s something I will never have with anyone else. Loosing him brought my world to a screeching stop. I was devastated and had never in my life felt that deep of sadness and pain. I had seen and talked with him nearly every day of my life. We lived next door to each other, worked together and he was that person I could always turn to for advice.
Over the next year, I had to learn to live without him and create a new “normal” life. It was so bizarre and so sad. But the hardest part of all of it was watching my mom go through her worst year ever too. Her heartache, tears and sadness were excruciating. There was nothing I could do to take away either of our pains. All I could do was love on her and be there for her.
Looking back on this year, it’s hard to believe that I made it – 1 year later! During the first 6 months after his death, the grief seemed endless. It was like a storm of emotional waves that just kept beating me, every single day. The waves came fast and furious and didn’t let up for many months. But slowly, those waves slowed down and weren’t so intense. A year later, the grief is still there and I still miss him tremendously. But the every day pain is better. The reminders aren’t quite as often. The memories are starting to bring smiles instead of tears.
While I would give anything to have him back, I am starting to see the blessings from this tragedy. I’ve learned many things this year and have spent a lot of time thinking about my life’s priorities. We all will experience this type of pain at some point in our lives, but my hope is thatÂ you will take these suggestions to heart so you have no regrets when you too deal with your hardest year ever.
1. Trust in Your Faith
When life gets really hard, all we can do is rely on faith. For me, my faith is in God and I trust that He will take care of me always if I let Him. My faith in God has been strong my whole life (thank you Dad!), but it was definitely tested through this trial. For months, I tried to handle the grief on my own. I questioned why God had taken my dad from this earth. Sometimes I was even mad at God. But once I started praying and reading my Bible again, I was reminded that I’m not alone. If I trust in Him, he will guide me through the challenges that were ahead of me. He would provide for my mom and our family. He was always in control. I still don’t understand the why or His timing, but I know His reasons are beyond my earthly knowledge. Someday when I join my dad in heaven, I will understand all of the reasons that he had to leave this earth so early and best of all, our time away here on earth is just temporary! Pray, Trust and Grow in your faith everyday and it will pull you through the hardest of times.
2. Love & Cherish Your Parents & Family
No matter what your family life was like growing up, cherish your parents. Maybe you adore your parents or maybe they drive you crazy! Either way, you WILL miss them when they’re gone. You will regret the times you said hurtful words or the times you didn’t come to visit them. Instead, enjoy your times with them. Find ways to serve them. Sit and talk for hours if they want to. Honor them by helping out where they need it. Show them you care, no matter what you get in return. When they’re not here anymore, you will be so thankful you took the time.
3. It’s OK to Grieve… for a Long Time
When a tragedy hits you out of now where, you will grieve… for a really long time. I’m not sure it ever goes away fully and I’ve learned that it is OK! It’s normal to grieve and everyone does it differently. Some people grieve immediately, others take months or years to really feel the intensity of their experience. Some people need to do it privately and others need good friends to help them through. Do what feels right, at that moment. There is no right or wrong way. Know that eventually, that intense pain will diminish. It may never heal completely but the sadness will slowly get better and the memories that used to make you cry will make you smile.
4. Do What You Love
Life is too short to live life doing things that you don’t enjoy. Life can be gone in an instant so I’ve learned to do my best to fill my days with things I love. Take time to do activities you love: hobbies, traveling to new places, vacations, or anything that makes you happy. No one ever wishes they had worked more, so enjoy the fun that life has to give. If you’re in a job that doesn’t make you happy, change it! Whether you’re a working professional or Â a stay at home parent, are you happy where you are? There is nothing better than waking up each day and working in a profession that you enjoy. Your day flies by because you’re having fun. If you miss your kids so much it hurts every day while you’re at work, maybe you’re meant to be home with them. Start the process now to become a stay at home mom. During this past year, I’ve had the opportunity to take over my dad’s business. Along with my husband, sister and brother-in-law, we’ve been keeping the business running but we’re quickly learning that this is not a job we’re meant to do forever. It’s not what we love. It doesn’t make us better people. Instead, we’re now working to sell the business so we can continue working in jobs that we love. Once the company is passed onto someone new, I can also get back to blogging more which is my hobby and passion. I miss it so much when I can’t do it and can’t wait to be back full time!
5. Make Time to Take Care of You
It wasn’t until these last few months that I’ve learned to take care of ME. When my dad passed away, I immediately took on a whole new list of responsibilities that I wasn’t planning on. From running a business, to caring for my mom, to helping run his household… it was a lot to handle. Life was busy and didn’t take very good care of myself. I ate a lot of mindless snacks, too many cookies and not always very balanced meals. I didn’t exercise and my body felt terrible. A mixture of unhealthy food and grief is not a good way to live for a body. This past October, I had finally had enough and started seeing a nutritionist. If you’ve been following my Journey to a New Me, you know that I’ve really learned how to eat for my body, have learned how to live with a wheat intolerance and have seen over 25 lbs come off already! Take time to take care of yourself. Maybe it’s more exercise, maybe it’s eating right, maybe it’s better health or maybe it’s weight loss. In whatever way you need to take care of yourself more, I hope you’ll consider joining my January “Real Food” Challenge where we’re pledging to eat only real food all January long!
Do you have any life tips you’ve learned along the way for this New Year? Share them in the comments below!
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