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

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