Grief, an ugly (and at times beautiful) journey

dad and me

Looking back at my grief journey, its been a quite a ride. There were so many ups and downs, back and forths. It’s been exhausting. And it will continue to be exhausting for the rest of my life.

I’ve felt peaceful, for the most part, about my dad passing. I had another dream of my dad recently, where I saw him on the porch of a house I was in. I knew he was visiting me again, so I made a point to really take it all in. I studied his features, what he was wearing, and his mannerisms. The same dad that I’ve always known. This time he had a decorated military hat on that said SGT GUNNY. I then yelled excitedly, ‘daddy!!’, and we ran to each other and hugged. I didn’t really know what Gunny meant, but I knew it had something to do with the rank in the Marines. My first thoughts of what that meant was that my dad had resumed his hobby and love for guns in Heaven. The second thought was about my best friends family. Her father in law, who passed away, was a Gunnery Sergeant during his time in the Marines. Maybe they met in Heaven and are sharing stories. Such a sweet dream.

Lately, however, has not been so peaceful. I know my dad is in a better place and I know it’s not my fault that he died, but my mind likes to tell me otherwise. I just get so frustrated. I am mad that I have to deal with these ups and downs of grief, on top of everyday life. Everyday life is HARD as it is. Trying to cope with my anxiety, raising 7 kids, trying to keep the house in order, finding the little time to spend with my husband, and then finding time for myself admist school, is just so tough! I can’t do it all and I feel like I am falling short. Depression sinks in. Thoughts of my dad and what I could have done to keep him here. It’s just too much at times. Why was I given this burden, on top of life’s daily struggles? Maybe I need to change my attitude and have less selfish thoughts. Maybe I was given this burden to help others, to save others. Still, it’s tough.

Watching and hearing my family struggle is hard. My mom is constantly depressed and suffers from PTSD. She just wants to forget about my dad at times. That stings to know that. But its the only way she knows how to move on right now. My sister, my best friend, feels so much guilt. I wish I can take that away from her. I can tell her over and over that we all did our very best. But how can we truly accept that for ourselves? Why did my dad leave us, and now we are left struggling, trying to pick up the pieces? I feel like we will never be able to put that puzzle back together. There will be so many missing pieces. How do we move on with so many missing parts of our lives?

I don’t know the answer to these awful questions. For me, I can rely on Heavenly Father to ‘lead me, guide me, walk beside me, and help me find the way’.

I miss my dad. Just yesterday, for a split second, I thought I would call him to ask about something that needs to be fixed in our house. Something I knew he would know the answer to. I then realized I can’t call him. I can’t talk to him weekly like I used to. I can’t tell him what I am doing or have done in hopes that he would be proud of me. I can’t tell him that I changed the oil in my van and how thankful I am that he taught me how to do that. I can’t tell him that it meant so much to me when I was younger and needed a ride home after a late night, no questions asked. I can’t talk to him how Deacon has a really great shot and would make a great competition shooter one day. There’s so many little things that I wish I could tell him. The void in my heart is strong.

Maybe telling my dad that he was depressed and needed help wasn’t a good thing. Maybe to him it felt like his physical pains were disregarded. Maybe he felt that we thought he was crazy. It hurts that I truly tried my best to keep him here, but he didnt stay. He always called me when he got results from the doctors, good and bad. He said, ‘Your dear old dad will be around a little longer’, when he got his cancer free results. ‘Well, the doctor said there’s nothing that he can do to help my symptoms’, he said, with the feeling of defeat. He depended on me to talk to him and share his ups and downs. Did I let him down? Did I say the wrong things? Should I have visited him right away, after that call of defeat?

It’s hard to share my vulnerabilities with the world. I feel like I fall short most of the time. But I think it’s good to share that we aren’t perfect, we are all human, and it’s ok to fall down.

I am still in shock that my dad took his life and is truly gone. It’s such a surreal feeling sometimes.

Hang in there friends. Life is tough. But we all need to pick ourselves up and STAY.

Hugs,

Sarah

It’s been awhile

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Photo by Lukas on Pexels.com

It’s been awhile, since I’ve written anything. 7 months to be exact. In that time, we celebrated kids’ birthdays, had our 7th and last baby in May, been busy with doctors appointments, and the events with summer. Life moves on.

After a loss life might seem like it sits still, but is moving on for others. It’s like sitting still while the world spins. I remember what that was like after my dad passed away. I was frozen in time and it was hard to move on, physically and emotionally. Time does eventually move on and it won’t feel frozen forever. There’s always hope. Even if its a sliver of it.

There’s been grief for friends of mine recently. Tragic losses. It’s so hard to see my friends go through the grief of it all, knowing what it feels like. If I could, I would take that grief away. But I can’t.

Recently, I was able to listen to a devotional talk by an authority in my church, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland. He explained that we will have hardships in our life, tragic ones. He tells us that God loves broken things. He related it to wheat. We need broken wheat to make bread. It takes broken clouds to nourish the earth. He wants to heal our broken hearts. We need to trust, believe and perservere. How are we going to learn anything if we lived a perfect life? Whatever you believe in, believe in hope. There is hope, help, and healing if you open your heart to it.

My mission of this blog was to help others going through what I endured. Hoping to make the sting a bit easier to work through. In turn, I learned alot about myself. It’s very theraputic to write about our struggles, and our triumphs.

I have felt at peace about my dad for awhile now. I love him and miss him so much. I still wish he was here. I really miss our talks. It was strange not being able to talk to him after I had my son. But I knew he was there.

Last night I had a dream about my dad. I was sitting together with family at the dinner table, and he appeared in the empty seat across from me. His presense was so strong. The presense was ‘heavy’ or ‘solid’ if that makes any sense. It truly felt that he was sitting across the table from me, in his Earthly body. He was wearing his typical flannal shirt, and was chewing on a toothpick like he used to do. He was smiling and laughing. He let me know that he is here with all of us, like a puppy that follows its mom, never being far from our side. And from time to time he will communicate with us when we really need it. But that we should be comforted to know that he won’t ever leave our sides, even if we don’t feel his presense.

I miss him so much! Some days I still can’t believe he ended his life the way he did. It gives me comfort though, knowing he is watching over us. I know that I will see him again.

If you are grieving and its becoming tough, don’t give up. Have hope. There is always hope. I promise it will get better.

 

Hugs,

Sarah

Peace

dad oregon coast

Peace. That’s what one hopes to find, through their grief journey and recovery.

The first weeks and months after my dad’s passing was an emotional roller coaster. I just kept telling myself that I will need to find peace. That peace will come. But I don’t think I truly believed that, at the time. How am I going to find peace with this situation I have been put in? My father killed himself (still hard words to type). I suffered a tragic miscarriage 4 months after my dad’s passing. How in the world can I find peace in these tragic events?

I would read that quote, ‘time heals all wounds’ during my grief journey. I thought that was bullcrap. I am still going to have these deep wounds and life will still be hard. But you know what? Time has actually helped. I started to realize maybe that quote does have some truth to it.

I have made it through the first year from my dad’s passing. That first year is supposed to be the hardest. Oh how it was! So many emotions, so many mornings I had no motivation to get out of bed, and so many questions.

I think I have now found some of that chunk of peace that I’ve read and heard about. I know my dad is safe, happy, and most importantly, at peace. He is patiently building his camp, gathering a soothing campfire, waiting for us to join him. He is reunited with his beloved mother, stepfather, and sister that he lost so many years ago. He is free of pain, depression, and worldly worries. I know this with all my heart, and that brings me peace.

Now don’t get me wrong, I will still have days that I question why this has happened, why did he do this. I still have a wound. I still think about my dad all the time. I still think about how my mom is left alone to navigate this world without her husband. But now that I have that sense of peace, it makes managing these wounds easier.

A year ago I posted on facebook about a card that my friend sent me: “My friend sent me a card last week and it started out with ‘Not sure what the divine plan is in all of this, and maybe it’s not for us to know’. Those words were very comforting to me. We just need to have faith in God’s plan. It’s not easy some days, but I do know God has a plan for all of us, even with tragic events in our lives, but he loves each and every one of us.” This is still true! God has a plan, and our lives are already mapped out for us. He does not give us these tragic events in our lives to be vindictive or hurtful. He gives us these trials so that we can learn about ourselves and to help others. Isn’t this life all about trying to get through it the best we know how, while helping others along the way?

Those that have recent wounds, that are grieving from losing a loved one, who just doesn’t feel like peace will come…. I am here to give you hope. I am a living example of this. PEACE WILL COME. There is not a timeline for it. It may come in months or years. But don’t lose faith! Just keep riding that roller coaster of life, trying your best. Soon enough you will find that peace that your heart has been searching for.

Hugs,

Sarah

 

Christmas Eve Thoughts

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Life is so uncertain. Those quotes that say, ‘Tomorrow is not given, so cherish those today’, are so true.

Death has always scared me, since I was a child. I always worried something would happen to my family. Now that my dad passed so suddenly, I worry even more about my children, husband, and family. Truth be told, some days I don’t want to go anywhere so there’s no risk of something happening. Other days I watch my children like a hawk.

Why are some lives taken so early from us? My friend lost her sweet baby boy a couple days ago. I have so much grief over this, and sorrow for that sweet family. I know what its like to lose someone you love, your family, so suddenly. I feel so much for her and her family. It’s so tough, especially this time of year.

This I know, God has a plan. Whatever anger you might have for God, with the events that happen in our lives, there is a plan, and he loves us dearly. He feels the sorrow we feel. He weeps with us. There is hope, however meager that feels some days.

Today marks one year since I have talked with my dad. He called me on the afternoon of Christmas Eve. I remember where I sat and the feelings I had about our conversation. The doctor had called him back, telling him what he could do about night sweats and other symptoms. My dad lost hope. I could hear it in his voice. Anything I said to cheer him up, things he could do to get through his days, or telling him how sorry I am that he’s dealing with this, didn’t help relieve that lost hope. I know I did and said the best I could. He ended the call telling me to have a Merry Christmas and that he loved me. Those were the last words that I heard from him.

Oh how I miss him. I grieve for those that have lost loved ones. This time of year is tough. I know this, and I am here with you. You are not alone. Hang in there. Enjoy the times with friends and family here on this Earth. Remember the happy times with the loved ones lost. They ARE with us and love us so much.

Hugs,

Sarah

One Year Anniversery (on the 27th)

person standing near lake

Photo by Lukas Rychvalsky on Pexels.com

This is one anniversery I do not want to celebrate. There’s no celebration marking my dad’s death.

My family and I have been through so much this year. We made it through that first awful week, after my dad passed. We planned 2 funerals. We moved my mom into a new place, a new life. We have experienced our ‘firsts’ without my dad. Through all this, we survived. I am so very proud of us all.

This Christmas Eve will mark one year since I have talked to my dad. Just so crazy to think about that. He called to tell me the doctor couldn’t do anything for him. He just lost all hope. He probabaly felt that his concerns were not validated. That his symptoms would go away if he would just hold out.

We don’t know what goes on in the minds of others. My dad’s friends were all in shock, including a friend that talked to him the day after Christmas, the night my dad ended his life. His friend had no idea that he was struggling. My mom, sister, and I knew he was struggling with his symptoms, but had no idea how much he was struggling mentally.

What can we do? Just love one another, including ourselves. Validate others feelings and concerns. Listen. Pray for how we can help others.

Hugs,

Sarah

It’s Been Awhile…

bright daylight environment forest

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Today is National Survivors of Suicide Day. A day where people can come together to help each other with their losses. But what if I don’t want to? Does that make me an angry, non compassionate person?

Lately, I’ve felt irritable, angry, and depressed. I am angry that my dad decided to leave us. I am frustrated about this never ending grief cycle. The emotions I have processed are coming back around. I have to deal with this never ending circle of grief for the rest of my life. Anger, sadness, shock, depression, compassion. Over and over again.

When life gets overwhelming, which it definitely has these last couple of months, my emotions always go back to my dad and the grief that I have. Although it is healthy to go through the emotions of my grief and deal with them as they come, I don’t want to. I’ve been putting it on the back burner, saving it for later. Hoping that maybe it will just go away for a bit. Maybe I am being stubborn. I have other things going on right now that I just don’t want to put energy into my grief over my dad. I have enough energy going elsewhere.

I know what I need to do. I need to set some time and energy dealing with my grief emotions right now. Only that way, I can be a better person to myself and those around me.

Some advice for those struggling. Dig deep and find the root cause. Meditate on it. Set aside time for yourself. Be compassionate with yourself. Don’t demand too much of yourself during grief. Forgive yourself, over and over.

I think that’s my biggest mistake. Not doing what I think I should do, and being disappointed in myself. I don’t think there’s a right way to do anything. I think what matters is the direction you take. A positive direction is better than a negative direction. If you get off track, don’t be disappointed. Give yourself time, and forgive yourself. Hang in there! There is a season for everything. Life is full of ups and downs. Life will not always be bubbly and happy, and that’s ok.

A quote that was given to me when I needed it the most was this:

‘Things are about to get so clear for you. Any funk you’ve been experiencing lately was just a period of self-reflection and rest required for you to step back and reconnect with yourself. Don’t judge why you feel the way you do. Allow it to flow through and release it with peace.’ (Found on Idillionaire on Instagram)

Hugs,

Sarah

 

 

What if we said and did all the right things?

love yourself

As I was scrolling through Facebook, a video from a suicide prevention website that I follow, caught my attention. It was about how we can help those that are suicidal. I am here to say that they don’t always work. Here’s why.

“If I say I’m suicidal, take it seriously”. We did that. We took it seriously and were concerned with his well being. No, we didn’t want to take him to the mental hospital where he would be pumped full of drugs, and come home back to his suffering. Beyond that, he wouldn’t have agreed to that. Or would he?

“Remind me of how strong I am”. 3 days before he passed away, I had a very deep conversation with him. I told him he is strong, and soon enough he will be well again, able to enjoy in the things he loved.

“Listen, validate, believe”. That last conversation that I had with him, I told him I am sorry for what he was going through. I gave him positive things to try. Things that could get his mind off of his symptoms. I told him to hang in there, that we will get through this.

Now, please know that ALL of these ways to help are so very important to do. And they will most likely help that person struggling, most of the time. But for some, suicide is going to happen anyways. I really don’t think my family or I could have changed the outcome. Delayed it, yes. But not change the outcome.

Are we ever going to get rid of suicide? Sadly, no. It will happen still continue to happen. It will never be obsolete. There is no official cure or vaccination.

Here’s what we CAN do NOW.

Listen to OUR own bodies and minds. Reach out to others, and truly tell them what you need for help. There is absolutely NO SHAME in asking for help, and taking care of our mental health. Maybe validating isn’t going to help one person, but it will help another. Outsiders willing to help may not know that. First, get the thought of ‘I am just being a burden to people’ out of your head. Banish it. Be honest with people! Tell people how they can help. People truly want to help one another.

It all starts with our SELF. Love yourself and take care of yourself. Treat your brain as any other organ in the body. Get help when you feel you are struggling and can’t do it alone. Reach out to people. There is hope and there is help. 

For our loved ones who may have had a tragic ending, whatever the situation may be, I understand. Those of you that have tried to help your loved ones, did your best to reach out, said all the right things, got them help that they needed, I understand. We did our very best. Are we going to feel guilty and ashamed about it? Yes. But realize that this was their decision. We can’t blame ourselves for what somebody else did. Just know that you are still amazing, and love yourself even more. Our loved ones would want us to be happy.

Hugs,

Sarah

 

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

1-800-273-8255