I can’t say I’m qualified to write about grief. I don’t have any advanced degrees in clinical psychology or counseling, but I do have life experience. Sometimes I guess that’s more real than any education could ever be.
It’s a part of me that I don’t talk about often. It’s a huge, but personal part of this new me. I’ve been better, for a really long time. The sadness has lifted. The depression isn’t always around. The anxiety has gotten better. But that void is still there. There’s still a part of me missing. And I’m a different person now who I’m learning to accept and love again. It’s been two years since my dad went to be with the Lord, completely unexpectedly. There were no warnings and I never got to say good-bye.
As we sneak up on the Christmas holidays, I feel bits and pieces of my grief sneaking back in. I’m pretty sure the holidays will always trigger it for me.
He was truly the best. I was so incredibly blessed to call him my dad. He was such an important part of my life from the day I was born until the day he died. He was one of my closest friends, my confidant, the one I talked to about everything and the one who always had an answer for me when I was struggling. We worked together in his business from the time I was a teenager. I saw him every day of my life and enjoyed time with him so much that, just 6 months prior, my family and my parents had just moved into our “family compound” of two homes on the same property so we could all do life together, as one big family. It was absolutely unimaginable that he wasn’t going to be around for all of our plans that we’d just made.
A Look Back at Grief
Grief… I really had no idea. I had no idea how physically painful it was. How emotionally draining. How it would affect my entire body for months. I’ve lost loved ones before, but nothing was as awful as this. I remember just bits and pieces of the first few days and weeks after we lost him. The rest of the first few months is just a blur.
During those first few weeks, my faith in God is what kept me going. I don’t know how someone gets through this without faith in a bigger purpose or reason. My dad lead a life full of love for the Lord and I knew without a doubt that he was spending eternity in heaven. God has a reason for everything, even if we don’t know it immediately, and that is the only thing that brought me any comfort. Knowing this got me through so many tough days. And knowing that I would see him again some day helped, especially when I was angry that he wasn’t physically here anymore.
I remember a friend telling me that grief is like waves. During the storm, the waves of grief will come fast, hard and constant. They’ll knock you over and beat on you, just like a stormy sea. This phase felt like it lasted for a long time, six months at least. They say there are five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Those first six months were full of denial and anger for sure. I also felt very sad, unmotivated, anxious and alone. Even though the rest of my family was also hurting, I felt so alone. I felt like no one could possibly know how this feels for me.
At 6 months, I felt the constant waves ease up a bit. I started to get more used to my life’s new normal. I started to find some joy in the things I loved again and began to have faith that I could get through this and there would be a light at the end of this long tunnel. But just as quickly as things seemed better, along came another wave of grief.
Looking back over the past 2 years, it feels like the waves of grief came and went all throughout the first year. But somewhere around the one year mark, I realized the grief wasn’t a daily battle anymore. The waves of grief still came, but just less often and less intensely.
As I begin another holiday season without him and come upon the 2-year anniversary of his passing, I feel some sadness creeping back in, but I feel encouraged to realize that I’ve been good for a really long time now. It’s been awhile since I’ve felt overcome by grief and realize that each year is going to get easier and easier.
You’re Not Alone
I know I have many friends and fellow family members feeling the same emotions. If you too are feeling sadness from grief during the holidays or any time after the loss of a loved one, please know that you are not alone. What you feel is normal and so many people have gone through it. The void never does go away, and you never stop missing them. But the constant sadness does get better. Life begins to have hope again. You will find joy again. Be patient with yourself, have faith in God and know that in time you will feel better.
As the holidays approach, join me in taking care of ourselves. The busyness and stress makes it all worse for me, so I’m trying to slow down. I’m saying no when I can to some parties and get-togethers. I’m staying close to those that love me most and cherishing my moments with them. I’m working on building new Christmas traditions to replace the ones I can’t do anymore. I’m trying to remember what this time of year is really about and how much I used to love this season. I’m working on not letting this traumatic memory take over all the wonderful memories. Can you too?
Are you missing a loved one this Christmas? Share your favorite memories below!
Want to read more?
- The Past 2 Months of My Life
- 5 Lessons I’ve Learned During the Hardest Year of My Life
- 6 Ideas for Getting Out of a Mental Funk
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