My Dad’s Funeral

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As it’s coming near to my dad’s Veteran’s burial, I’d like to share my eulogy from my dad’s funeral back in January. I want people to know what a kind, gracious person he was.

My name is Sarah and I want to thank everyone for being here. My dad has some pretty amazing friends and family in his life, and for that I am very grateful. He loved each and every one of you. 

I credit my dad for planting the seed of my faith, and helping it grow. When I was really young, he would bring me to church with him. Sometimes I would cry during children’s bible class, and he would pick me up and let me sit with him at the adult’s worship service. He bought me my first bible and we would read it together every Sunday morning. He eventually got involved in a bible study group, where I would go to their meetings. I decided I wanted to be baptized, and soon enough my dad baptized me in his friend’s pool. So when I told him that my oldest daughter was to be baptized, he knew he had to be there for it because it was very important.  He and my mom made the 9 hour drive to our home, less than a year ago to witness Sydnee’s baptism. 

My dad and I had a special relationship. I joke with family and friends  that he wanted me to be a boy. I was his buddy and I did everything with him as a kid. We would reload bullets together. He taught me how to shoot a gun, while making sure I knew gun safety. I can’t count how many times he would take me shooting in the desert in Vegas. We took karate classes together. When I told my dad that I karate kicked a boy at school after he grabbed me from behind, he said ‘That’s my girl’ and couldn’t be more proud.  

            My dad went to every soccer practice and games. After every game, we would stop and get donuts and slurpees. One particular day, after a soccer game, we came home to see my sister sunbathing in the grass in the backyard. My dad told me ‘watch this’ with a sly smile, as he turned on all the sprinklers. We watched and laughed while my sister screamed and ran.

 He and I picked out fish for my new fish tank he put together for me. Those pets didn’t last long. He later found someone that would take the extra goldfish we no longer wanted. He could have just flushed them down the toilet (like I would probably do now as a parent) but I remember taking the fish to his friends house, who had a large fish tank, to give them a new home. As I grew older, our new hobby was riding roller coasters. We would drive to Stateline, NV to ride one of the tallest roller coasters. We would be climbing to the top and he would say ‘Hey look down there, its Ken and Barbie in the hotel pool!’

He taught me how to change the oil in the car. I helped him change the spark plugs a few times because he needed my small hands to get to the plugs. My dad loved working with his hands. All these times with my dad sparked my interest in becoming an engineer and designer. At one time, I worked in the engineering department of the gas company where he worked as a technician. He would always make a point to stop by and see me.

Dad loved the outdoors, specifically the mountains.  We went hiking almost every weekend it seemed as a kid. On one particular hike, I remember complaining that I wanted to stop and not go any further, and he stopped, looked up at the trees and said “Look at all these wonderful trees. Smell the fresh clean air. This is happiness!” Being in the woods soothed his soul. We have been camping all over Nevada. Our favorite camping spot was Cave Lake. We fished, hiked, made smores, and relaxed. Those were my favorite vacations.

When I started dating, whenever boys came over to the house, first thing he would do is show them his gun collection and where he reloaded his bullets. I would roll my eyes and say ‘Oh dad, not again’. At my wedding, part of his speech included him saying ‘I showed Sarah’s boyfriends my gun collection, but Dusty was the only one that stuck around. That’s a man’s man’. He later took dusty to buy his first gun. Dad was so proud of his son in laws, and treated them like his own sons.

I want to share some memories that others have shared with me:

My bridesmaid -I remember consoling your dad before your wedding. He was so excited and happy for his little girl, but full of nerves. He loved you so much.

My friend -I remember when you and Dusty first started dating, he would have Dusty come talk to him in the garage while he made bullets. Dusty told me he didn’t realize it if your dad was trying to intimidate him; he just thought he really liked bullets.

My husband’s sister -My fun memory of your dad was at your wedding reception. My own husband wouldn’t dance with me, but your dad did. Love him!

My best friend growing up-I keep thinking about our trip to Wyoming, him driving listening to his music (Little red riding hood by Steppenwolf) and spike (our dog) in the middle howling along.  I remember his deep voice and his kind smile. I remember him always watching history shows and talking politics

A former boyfriend-I remember the time when I first came over and the first thing he did was show me his gun. I couldn’t tell if he was genuinely just showing me his gun because he was excited about it or trying to intimidate me. (See, it was true! He showed every boy that came over)

My cousin -Uncle Steve changed my life. I am a believer of God because of my uncle Steve.

My father in law -Once in a while we run into someone who’s a quiet gentle kind of Giant with a kind weathered face and the kind heart.  Fortunately this kind of a person was a father-in-law to my son which made us both father-in-law’s,  I was honored to know him.

My dad loved my mom unconditionally. There was never a moment that he didn’t want to live life without her. She was his rock. While visiting Tombstone, AZ, one of his favorite movies and places of all time, he bought a trench coat and outfit like Wyatt Earp in the movie. He realized he made a really big purchase without telling my mom. He was so nervous that my mom would be mad, that he spent all that money on just an outfit. My mom didn’t mind. She knew how much he loved tombstone.  My dad would tell his friends ‘Why have hamburger, when you can have filet minon at home?!’  My dad was a quiet man, and during these last months, while my mom and dad would be in the car running errands, he would quietly put his hand on her leg, as if to say ‘I love you, you mean the world to me’.

I loved talking to my dad. I called him at least once a week.  I loved hearing his stories and I loved making him laugh. He always ended the call telling me he loved me.

My dad had so many friends, that he truly cherished. Each and every friend that I have talked to, from his Vegas friends, to his friends at the gun club, have all said what a good, respected man he was. I am proud to call him my dad. I know that he is with our Heavenly Father and reunited with his family. I can see him hiking in the mountains, with his fishing hat on, and a walking stick. Smiling and at peace. 

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Miss you so much Dad. There’s not a day that goes by without thinking of you.

 

Hugs,

Sarah

My dad didn’t fit the mold

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It’s hard to explain to people why my dad took his life. He didn’t fit the mold of a suicidal person. It wasn’t just depression and hopelessness. I want to explain further what my dad was going through, in order to help others notice these signs.

My dad became addicted to vitamins. Weird, right? He had a full bottle of prescribed pain relievers in his medicine cabinet, completely untouched. He had taken so many different over the counter, ‘natural’ supplements to try and find relief. He took melatonin every night for months because he wasn’t sleeping from hot flashes, due to his hormone shots. He even doubled and tripled the dosage. He would often forget if he took it, and would take more. Did you know that taking melatonin long term can lead to depression and horrible nightmares? That happened to my dad. He told my mom that he had the worst dreams, but wouldn’t talk about them. On the bottle (as well as information online), will say that melatonin should only be for short term usage. Just because a product is natural and considered safe, doesn’t mean that it can be used indefinitely. Please use discretion when taking over the counter supplements. Even talk to a doctor about what supplements you are taking. Some will counter act each other. When my dad lost so much blood from a benign tumor in his stomach a few years ago, he continued to take garlic pills. My dad had always taken garlic pills. He always had the garlic smell, from taking so much of it. When he saw the doctor on a follow up from the surgery to remove the tumor and stop the bleeding, the doctor said to stop taking garlic right away. It can actually thin the blood. While taking garlic can be great for the body, please use discretion. Use supplements in moderation. Consult a doctor if you are unsure of the side effects. I’ve heard melatonin being used for years for sleep. But I have never heard of those side effects. It can happen and it does happen.

My dad became bulimic the last few months of his life. He felt that he couldn’t go anywhere because he would have to use the bathroom after he ate. He said he could feel it in his stomach, and just wouldn’t let his food settle. He was 6’5″ and weighed around 160 pounds. He wasn’t getting the nutrients he needed from his food. He ate super healthy, no junk food. But he didn’t let it stay in his system to digest. We knew he had a problem, but we thought his pain was from his previous surgery on his stomach, and possibly the side effects of radiation. At one time, our family told him to go and buy some junk food, and good fats. He needed to gain weight! If any food was going to give him troubles, he might as well add some fattening food to his diet. I remember him calling me, laughing at how much money he spent on junk food. He loved it! He was happy! But the need to relieve his body of the food he ate was strong. He was back to that vicious cycle.

Doctors couldn’t possibly know what he was going through. They heard ‘constipation’ and ‘hot flashes’. Sounds like an easy fix. They gave him help for those things. But there was so much more to my dads pain.

My dad didn’t die from depression and hopelessness. Yes that was a part of it, but it doesn’t explain his story. He had hot flashes and couldn’t sleep. He relied on supplements to help relieve the pain. Which, in turn, made things worse. He felt the need to find relief after eating. He always felt constipated. Always complained of that. He felt that it was so bad, that he couldn’t go anywhere. When I suggested going to the bookstore, or walk around a park, he would tell me that he wouldn’t be able to stay long, because he would have to come home and use the bathroom. I think at the end, he was just done fighting. He was exhausted. He couldn’t pursue his hobby of shooting anymore. He felt that he couldn’t go anywhere.

I just hurt for him. Hurt that he had to go through all that pain and mental exhaustion. I wish there was a way I could have helped relieve that pain and make it better. Maybe if I knew the signs of OCD and addiction more carefully, I could have done something. I could have taken him to a counselor, a psychiatrist. Anything to help him feel better. Maybe he would still be here.

This part of guilt and hurt is coming back to me, in this roller coaster of grief. I know that we all did the best that we could. But there’s always those ‘what if’ questions.

I hope that we can all become knowledgeable about the faces of suicide. That it’s not all from depression and hopelessness. So many other factors can play a role in suicide.

Hugs,

Sarah

 

Guardian Angel

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Who has had an experience with spirits, coming into your life? Knowing their presence is there, feeling them sit next to you? I have a story to share, none like any others I’ve shared.

Life has been a little stressful lately. My sweet boy cries out in pain day and night. We’ve been to specialists, gotten an MRI, and countless X-rays. He even has fitted braces to wear on his legs. Tried every medication I can think of, even spending lots of money on sensory products to help his possible sensory disorder. It’s time to get answers from better doctors in another state. That’s happening in 2 weeks.

I’ve scheduled my dad’s burial at a Veteran’s Memorial cemetery where my family lives. It will be a very emotional day. That is scheduled for the end of next month.

Then just the daily struggles of laundry (think of an ENTIRE room of dirty laundry), dishes, chores, and trying to keep my kids happy.

Talking with my mom on the phone for a couple of hours, talking about my dad. It was a good talk. She asked me, like the innocence of a sweet child, ‘Do you think if I took all the guns away, that he (my dad) would still end his life?’ My heart sank. To hear my mom, just sad and feeling guilty.

Now this could be a normal week of feelings, and I am fine. But it’s been a while since I’ve had a good cry, and to really ponder life and reflect. So when my husband came home from work, and told me why our town’s football game that night was cancelled, I LOST it. I just couldn’t hold it in any longer. The boy from the opposing team, died the same way my dad did.

I finished up the dishes in silence, feeling the tears coming. I ran downstairs to start a load of laundry. I couldn’t hold back the tears. I prayed to Heavenly Father with all my strength to help me get out of this overwhelming funk I was in. Then, right after I said that most heartfelt prayer, I felt my dad stand behind me, at the doorway of our laundry room. I cried so hard! I told him I missed him SO much. I also thought, ‘No, this isn’t happening! Am I crazy? What is going on!’ I was scared. I was afraid to look behind me. So I closed the washer door, and slowly turned around. He wasn’t there. Ok, that was a relief. (By the way, why am I so scared? I will get back to that later). As I am walking towards the doorway, trying to collect myself, I hear my husband changing the song on the Echo Alexa speaker and I hear the song loud and clear, ‘ Owooooo! … Who do I see walking in the woods? It’s little red riding hood!’. And the song went on. If anyone knows anything about my dad, that was his song. I’ve had MANY memories of that song with him. My dad couldn’t sing the best, but he would belt out that whole song. I can even belt out every word of it! At one time, my dog would howl along with him. I also heard my husband asked what year the song was made, which is another hobby of my dad’s, naming the year and month that songs came out.

Why on earth would that song, of all songs start playing? I just melted onto the floor, on top of the mound of dirty laundry, and just cried and cried. Then I felt my dad kneel and sit down to the right of me, his legs crisscrossed like mine, and put his arm around my shoulder. Just around the time that the verse ‘I’d like to hold you if I could’ came on.

I was just shocked beyond belief. Had my dad really visited me? Am I going crazy? I went upstairs and asked my husband what made him want to play that song. He looked at me puzzled, then realized what song had just played. He apologized and gave me a hug. No apology needed, I just wanted to know what prompted him to play it. He said he didn’t really know why it had played it. He was listening to classical music and asked it to play some song that he couldn’t remember. Little Red Riding Hood came on instead.

What a night. I decided to go on a walk with my girls. As I stepped out the door, I could hear my neighbor listening to music in his garage. The song happened to be ‘Long as I Can See the Light’ by CCR. Speechless. CCR was my dad’s TOP favorite band, along with this song.

THAT was my dad’s sweet spirit comforting me. Telling me to hang on, that it will get better. Just like when he was on this earth, he didn’t need to say much to teach me lessons. Him just being there gave me comfort.

I’ve only felt a spirit once in my life and that was when I got my patriarchal blessing (in my church, adults can get their patriarchal blessing. A guideline or map of their lives. Here is a link: https://www.lds.org/topics/patriarchal-blessings?lang=eng). This is the second time in my life that I’ve felt a spiritual presence, in real-time. Not just in a dream.

So why was I so scared? Maybe it is a human trait, to have fear of something not felt of before. Maybe I felt I was crazy, that it was all in my head. I’ve never personally known anyone who had such a vivid presence of a spirit while awake.

I wanted to do some research about it, to maybe reassure me that I am not crazy! Here are some quotes from leaders in my church:

‘Our loved ones who have passed on are not far from us’ (in Conference Report, Apr. 1971, p. 18; or Ensign, June 1971, p. 33).

President Brigham Young said: ‘Where is the spirit world? It is right here’ (Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 376)

Elder Dallin H. Oaks also stated, “For most of us the mortal journey is long, and we continue our course with the protection of guardian angels.”

‘He will send His angels before you. You will feel their presence.’ (Dieter F. Uchtdorf)

President Joseph F. Smith said, “Our fathers and mothers, brothers, sisters, and friends who have passed away from this earth, having been faithful, and worthy to enjoy these rights and privileges, may have a mission given them to visit their friends and relatives upon the earth again, bringing from the divine presence messages of love, of warning, or reproof or instruction, to those whom they have learned to love in the flesh” (Gospel Doctrine, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1959, p. 436).

What a blessing to have my father in my life! He is truly my guardian angel, watching over me and my family.

Hugs,

Sarah

 

Unanswered Questions

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Unanswered questions, and unable to figure out the why, has got to be the most heart wrenching, exhausting way to try and make sense of it all.

My dad read his bible every day. He had it on the table, with his glasses on top of it, before he died. I searched that whole bible through and through, looking for an answer. Got nothing.

I looked at his notes about doctors appointments and what he wanted to try next. I looked over every single word. Got nothing.

I looked through his journals, any piece of handwritten notes. Examining each one. Got nothing.

I’ve talked to my dad’s friends who were in contact with him before he passed. They were all at a loss too.

How can someone so strong and so determined, take his own life? Leave his family?

We, as humans, need to fix things. Find answers to problems. So when there isn’t any answers, life seems to go crazy, desperately searching for that one answer. But maybe I don’t need an answer. Even if he had left a note, telling us why, it still wouldn’t make our grief easier. Or maybe it would? There’s a reason I don’t know the true why. I can speculate, and maybe come up with the closest answer. But what is that going to do? Bring him back? Why waste energy on the why, when I can accept what happened. Get to that point of being ok, not having any answers.

Dreams and the Holy Spirit have given me the knowledge that my dad is happy, free of pain and struggles, and is patiently waiting for us to arrive. Setting up camp, so to speak. THAT is where my mind needs to be when my roller coaster of grief starts to take a hard turn.

I know these unanswered questions will continue to pop up in my life from time to time, and that’s ok. Having the knowledge that my dad is happy, healthy, and with his family, in Heaven, are all the answers I need.

Hugs,

Sarah

 

How Can We Help Others?

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When we see others struggling, we want to help but don’t always know how. You may know someone who is struggling with a newfound illness. Cancer diagnosis. A death of a loved one. A mom of 6 kids struggling to keep her head afloat (me maybe?!)

Here’s some things we can do:

  • Text or call to ask that person how they are doing. Most people will say, “I am fine.” But really aren’t. Take the time to start the conversation and see where it leads. Really listen and you may find out what you can do to help. It might even be just a listening ear!
  • Drop off some goodies/care package. For me, it was the little things. You don’t always have to talk to that person. You may be too busy at the time, and so is the person on the receiving end. Sometimes dropping off a plate of cookies can mean so much for that person.

Now what works for some, doesn’t work for others! Everyone is different. Not everyone will ask for help. Not everyone wants help. Give them space if they need. Just make sure you can still check in every once and a while.

I, for one, don’t like to ask for help. I don’t ever want to feel like I am burdening someone else’s life. Is that pride? I don’t know. I do know that I need to let others help me. There are people out there that truly want to help and don’t mind at all.

What if we don’t know how to help? The most important thing that has helped me in my life is is to seek answers from Heavenly Father. He knows what others needs are, and he knows how much you can give. It’s those answers that you need to be mindful of. Pray wholeheartedly what you can do for others. Be specific. Ask how you can help your friend who is struggling with something. We won’t know how to solve everyone’s problems, nor do we need to, but we can help our fellow neighbor, friend, or family member along the way.

Hugs,

Sarah

Mental Health and Suicide: Could it be Unrelated?

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Someone brought up a very interesting point here. Can someone commit suicide and not have depression, mental illnesses, not addiction related, or any of the other stereotypes involved with suicide?

There have been so much suicide in the news recently. The CDC states that suicide is on the rise. Two well known celebrities, Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. People will say, ‘Well they had enough money, they could have gotten help.’ It’s not that easy. Anyone can feel isolated and hopeless. Doesn’t matter your status or the amount of money you have.

Everyone is looking for a reason as to why people have chose to end their life. ‘He had depression? Oh, ok, I can see why he did that’. ‘Struggling with alcohol and drug addiction? Oh, ok, that makes sense then’. ‘Going through a divorce and losing custody of her children? Oh, ok, she is sad and lonely.’ And everyone moves on. Why? I think its in our human nature to have an answer. Last year, I was told about a lady, in my church where I moved from, died from suicide. I was in complete shock. She was the sweetest person. My friend told me that she had suffered from depression and didn’t get help for it. There’s that moment of ‘Oh… ok. I understand then.’ But I started to realize, that’s not ok. How can you blame someone, because they were struggling? Thinking that they did this to themselves, because they didn’t get help?

What about the people that don’t have any known addiction, mental illness, or any life changing events? I think that’s whats most troubling and shocking. To try to make sense of it is just maddening.

I think the older generation are silently struggling. Maybe my dad thought, ‘I am 70 years old. I’ve lived a good life. I was able to retire comfortably. Afford a hobby that I love. See that my children and grandchildren are prospering. I am starting to feel the effects of radiation from cancer treatments and I just don’t want to deal with the pain and struggle of dying. I’ve tried my best to get help and relief from the pain but haven’t found anything. So I am going to end it now before it gets worse.’

No more silence. Let’s talk about things. Reach out to someone. If you are the listener, don’t judge. Let’s be kind to one another. You never know what that kind word, or listening ear might do for someone. It just might save a life.

Hugs,

Sarah

Father’s Day

 

Father’s Day is to be celebrated. My children have a great father worth celebrating for. But how can I celebrate when all I can think about is my own father not being with us anymore?

Lately, I feel that I needed to take a break from my grief journey. To be stronger for it, I had to put it on hold, for a much needed break. It’s been great. I enrolled in school. I’ve been getting projects done around the house. I enjoyed the last months of school with my children and all their end of the year celebrations. Then Father’s Day has approached, and I feel like that mental grief hold is crumbling.

I will not be on social media tomorrow, Father’s Day. I just can’t. I am truly happy for my friends and family who have great father’s to celebrate. But I just can’t see all that happiness. It will be devastating for me. I want to try to go along my day as if it were any other day. But society says that we need to celebrate tomorrow. I like to celebrate and acknowledge the father’ in my life any day of the year. Why does it have to be just one day out of the year?

Maybe I am bitter. Jealous. Resentful. I won’t have my father to call and wish him a happy father’s day. I don’t have the chance to tell him that I appreciate him and all the sacrifices he made for me, my mom, and sister growing up. I can’t tell him that I enjoy our little talks that we had.

Why did you have to do this? We all were trying to help and support you. I know you were in pain. And struggling. I hated seeing you suffer with your trials. But why would you leave us? My sister and I are now fatherless. Your beloved home is being sold this coming week. Mom is now starting a new life in a new community.

This first Father’s Day will be hard. No denying that. Cherish those father’s that are in your lives. Tell them that you appreciate them and care for them.

Happy Father’s Day Dad. Thanks for taking me to karate and soccer practice as a kid. Thanks for our talks. Thanks for your goofy laugh. Thanks for playing rummikub with us at our get togethers. Thanks for teaching me how to shoot a gun. Thanks for being proud of me. I miss you dad.

~Sarah