Nothing in life could have ever prepared me for suddenly losing my dad. I knew someday it would happen, but thought I had years ahead of me before I’d have to face that sad reality. Unfortunately the universe had other plans.
1. There is no right or wrong way to grieve.
Everyone handles shock and grief differently, and there isn’t a right or wrong way to handle it. Your experience and feelings are totally different than anyone else’s, even if you both are going through the same, or similar, experience. Just like you can’t compare your weight to someone else, you can’t compare your grief.
2. You need to feel your feelings.
Even feeling numb, is still feeling. Don’t try to push down your feelings and ignore them. You need to understand what your body is trying to tell you, and let it ride. Feeling sad? Cry. Feeling numb? Sit, and stare. Feeling happy? GREAT! Enjoy that. Grief 100% comes in waves, and is very unpredictable. Feel what you are feeling, when you are feeling it.
3. People really do want to help.
In tough times, please always say “Let me know what I can do to help”, and it always sounds insincere, but really, it’s not. In my experience, most people who offered, actually followed through, even if I was resistant to the help. (Also, don’t be a hero, you will need help. Embrace it and let them in. Let someone bring you dinner or be a shoulder to cry on.)
4. Self-care is very important.
You can’t pour into others unless you pour into yourself. You are going through a lot. Grief, work, friendships, relationships, grocery shopping, holidays. As much as you probably want to keep life moving as normal as possible, you need to take care of yourself. Self-care can look different to different people. Take a bath, go for a walk, drink a bottle of wine, lay in bed all day and cry, get a burrito delivered. Whatever you need to do that makes you happy, content and taken care of – do it. Don’t worry about what other people may think. They aren’t you, and they aren’t the ones grieving.
5. Giving up is not an option.
There will be days you want to stay in bed and never leave. You will feel like there is no way you will ever feel better or get through this. But, you can’t give up. The world is still turning. You need to do your best to shower, go to work, eat at least one meal a day. Show up. Even if you aren’t the best, try to be a friend, sibling, child, cousin, etc.. You giving up will not bring your loved one back. (And chances are they don’t want you to give up either.)
6. Family is so, so important.
My siblings, parents and I have always been pretty close, but losing dad brought us so much closer. We all are grieving differently, but we are all in it together. We are a team and need to be there for each other. Be there for each other. Cry together. Laugh together. Reminisce together. Enjoy the holidays, BBQ’s, and random get-togethers. Not many people probably fully understand what you are going through, but your family does.
7. There are silver linings even in the darkest of times.
As dark, sad, and stormy as life feels right now, there are going to be silver linings. Through this dark, tragic time, something good is going to happen. It has to. For me, it was writing. Who knew that losing my dad, would help me find my voice?
8. Things will get better.
Again, the world keeps turning. There will be good days, and there will be bad days. But, you’ll notice the good days are becoming more frequent. You’ll notice the sun shining more. You’ll laugh more. You’ll start enjoying all the simple things in life again. You’ll still be grieving, for sure, but the days will become easier.
9. Not everyone will understand, and that’s okay.
Not everyone has lost a parent, or even someone they were close to, so how can they possibly understand what you’re feeling? People who have lost a parent didn’t lose your parent, or have your relationship, so although they can relate, no one can fully understand what you are feeling, other than you. And that is okay. I have a few people in my life who have also unfortunately lost a parent, and even though they don’t know exactly what I am feeling, it helps me so much to hear their experience, and how they got through it (and are continuing to get through it). There will be people who may tell you to “get over it”, or offer some other mediocre advice that may offend you, but it’s probably not intentional. I’m sure they want to help and understand, they just don’t know how.
10. You are stronger and more capable than you think.
Through all of this, you will realize that you can handle some hard stuff in life. You didn’t give up. You are still pushing through, and living, all while grieving. During this time, life is happening. You’re still dealing with stress from work, friends, family and society. You’re still overcoming so many obstacles. Take it one day, hour, or minute at a time. Keep feeling, keep living, keep kicking butt.