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Hi. It’s been a while since I published a blog post. November 4th was the last one that’s not podcast show notes, and it was a post about my faith. November turned into a really crappy month for me and my family.
My dad passed away near midnight on November 7th.
My World Stopped.
Everything that didn’t involve being with my mom, sister, and niece became unimportant.
I had big plans for November. I wanted to participate in NaNoWriMo, write all the content for the blog for November AND December, and make some decent headway on Blog to Biz Hive, an online course. And I worked on none of it after waking up at 2:30 AM on November 7th.
I’m not okay. My Dad’s death was sudden, unexpected, and heartbreaking. He was three days shy of his 68th birthday, in seemingly good health, and optimistic about the future. Now my family is reeling from this loss, confused, adrift, grief-stricken, and terribly, terribly sad.
We are taking each day as it comes, and some days (most days) are worse than others.
My Dad is Laid to Rest
On November 20th, my family laid my Dad to rest at a national military cemetery in Washington, a right afforded to him (and my mother) because of his eight years in the United States Marine Corps. He received full honors, a 21-gun salute, taps, and my mother received the folded flag for his service.
I touched his urn, told him I love him, and wept.
What I Don’t Need or Want
Even in such early grief, I’ve already heard a lot of things that are fueling anger. I do not want the empty platitudes people like saying:
- He’s in a better place. (I know that he’s in heaven. I still want him back.)
- Be thankful for the time you did get with him. (I am. I’m angry I don’t get any more time with him.)
- I know how you feel. (No, you don’t. He wasn’t your dad, and you aren’t me. You can’t possibly know how I feel, even if you lost a parent too. Even my sister doesn’t know exactly what I’m feeling, though she knows better than you do.)
- Any story about their own loss, as if it’s comparable to mine. (All loss is valid, but all losses are not equal. When I am grieving in your presence, that is not the time to tell me about your own losses and grief, unless I’ve asked about it.)
- It gets better. (No, it won’t. It’ll never be “better” because “better” is having my Dad back.)
- It doesn’t get better, but it gets easier. (Stop giving me conflicting advice. Losing my Dad will never be easy to bear.)
- All you have to do is think of him, and he’s with you. (No, he’s not. He’s gone. Dad’s with God and no departed souls can communicate with the living. He’s in my memories, and I carry those memories in my heart, but my Dad is not here anymore.)
- You’re strong. You’ll get through this. (I am weak. I am a sinner and death is coming for me, too. The only thing I can do is pray to God to survive, and I don’t have to be strong to survive. Most people make it through grief, but grief never leaves them.)
Platitudes Do Not Help.
These are all hollow, empty words that bring more pain on my shoulders. But what I hate most of all is when the people who know about what happened ask, “How are you doing?”
I’m doing terrible, thanks for asking. How do you expect I’m doing? My dad died. My entire family is broken and suffering a loss beyond words.
A better way to check on me is to ask how I’m feeling today. It varies. Some days I can laugh at a stupid picture my sister posted on Facebook, and other days I don’t want to do anything except cry.
What Actually Helps
Scripture helps. Reminders that Jesus Christ rose from the dead and destroyed death, and that he brings all those who fall asleep in faith to him.
Hugs help. In elementary school, I was called “The Huggy Monster.” I live off of hugs and am so grateful to everyone at my workplace who has deigned to give me a hug or offer hugs-on-demand.
Saying “I’m sorry your dad died” or “I’m sorry for your loss” or “Your dad was [insert memory here]” helps. Sympathies and empathy help. Just avoid all those stupid, empty, hollow platitudes.
Just letting me know if I’m on your mind helps. Knowing that people out in the big, bad world give a damn about my fractured family is a comfort.
Grief is Personal, and So is Gratitude
My life is a nightmare right now. I don’t know this world without my Dad. No one really knows what I’m feeling besides God, because grief is so personal. Everyone experiences it differently, so any comparison at all is empty and useless.
I grieve for the hole he’s left in our hearts with his absence, for the lost time ahead of me, my sister, my mom, and my niece that we can’t share with him any longer, and for the hugs I won’t get from him anymore.
At the same time, I’m feeling swells of gratitude. I’m grateful my Dad believed in Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. I’m grateful for the 26 years I had with him, the 29 years my sister got, for the 38 years my mom knew him, and the 7 for my niece. And I’m grateful that he was such an amazing father, husband, and grandfather.
It will take me a while to return to something of a normal life. It will be a different life. I am different. The things that matter to me are already changing, and I expect that to reflect in what I write and record for you.
For those of you suffering in grief like I am, I encourage you to experience your grief without shame. Cry if you need to. Scream into your pillow. Throw breakable things at walls in a Rage Room. Talk to a friend or a therapist.
Take comfort in your family—whether the one you chose or the one you were born into.
It’s okay to not feel okay. I’m not okay right now, and I know I won’t be for a while.