My father died very unexpectedly in a car accident on his 60th birthday. That first moment when someone told me the news, I felt like I was going to die.
This was six months ago, I was 28 years old and I wasn’t prepared. I don´t think you ever are. The worst part is when people around you try to push you through the grieving process and impose their ideas on what you´re supposed to do, be and feel. Is not the same for everyone.
They say, “I know what you´re going through.”
You don´t know what I’m going through, just like I can´t know what YOU are going through. We can only imagine, or compare it to a similar experience but you are not me and I’m not you.
The first few weeks I was in shock. I couldn’t even get out of bed. I was a zombie and I didn’t want to see anyone. My father’s death had affected me differently from how it had affected my sisters. All three of us shared the same father but we each reacted differently. We have different personalities and our lives are very different.
People wanted to see me react like my sisters did (they took it better than I did). They kept functioning and I couldn’t even take a shower. My mother lost her partner of nearly 40 years. She spend more time with my father than she did with her own parents. Yet even she was able to carry on.
Her loss was different. My loss was different! EVERY LOSS IS DIFFERENT. Every scenario and every person is different; there are NEVER two alike.
My father and I were partners in crime and the best of friends. We would dance to our own rhythm and never missed an opportunity to do so wherever we went. No matter if it was a grocery store or an airport. We goofed around and he was one of the few people who could fully understand me. By losing him, I lost a part of me as well.
Losing a child can be very different for both parents. Even though both lost their child, sometimes their experience and pain cannot compare and neither one can relate to the other.
You can count your true friends with one hand
This is not all bad though. It might seem like that at the beginning, but I learned who is important enough to give my time from now on and whom I am better off without.
Unfortunately it is in the truly BAD times when you´ll realize who will be there to hold your hand, dry your tears and listen. In the funeral everyone wants to be by your side and show publicly their support.
But once the funeral was over, and the days became weeks and when I finally felt ready to talk about it and needed a shoulder to cry on or someone to listen, I came to realize that almost everyone was too busy. All this people who called themselves my friends, lived in a perpetual busy state and there were no rain checks. No, “I´ll drop by or call you some other day” nothing.
Still, I was lucky because there where a few friends and close family that stood by my side, that made time in their schedule not to fix my life but to listen. Even through a screen – since some live thousands of miles away from here-.
I was also lucky enough that people who never crossed my mind, people I never even considered as friends, were there, checking up on me, dropping by, just showing that they were there.
So keep your eyes open, some friends will leave your life, but you´ll discover greater ones. The type of friends that will lift your faith and give you hope in humanity.
I learned about the character of the people whom I should have surrounded myself with from the beginning, and the kindness that I hope I can some day replicate.
I became best friends with my close family and turned those few good friends into an extended family.
This experience showed me that time is truly priceless and I realized I wasted too much time on people who were never worth it. Losing my dad got me thinking of all the time I wasted on superficial friends, when I could have spent more of it, dancing with him.
Life goes on?
Life doesn’t go on, a life ended and new one began
Yes. You keep waking up in the mornings, but life doesn’t simply goes on. In my case, the life I knew was gone. The time that followed after his death was about accepting my new circumstances, while also dealing with the emotional loss. This doesn’t happen over night. Suddenly, in the blink of an eye I wasn’t daddy´s little girl anymore. I didn’t have someone to call “dad”. His unconditional support died with him.
As life takes its course, I kept realizing small details that where actually big details, about how my life had changed with my father’s death. I kept waking up each morning to a new world I don’t recognize and I´m struggling to make sense off.
I didn’t just lost my father, I lost the life I had lived for 28 years and I am having to build a new one from scratch. Of course people expected for me to get up and keep going. Some can, I can´t.
I needed to stop MY world and think, what was I going to do next? Every step I took felt like a milestone, taking a shower, eating, sleeping, things we normally give for granted. To me, they became the milestones. However, the world wanted to rush me into getting my life back. What life? The life I knew is gone.
I started feeling guilt for not being able to simply go on after a few weeks, or even after a few months. I was learning how to deal with problems when I did not have his hand to hold mine. Not being able to say “daddy I’m scared” and listening to him whisper with his firm voice “Everything is going to be all right my darling”.
Time heals all wounds.
Time is an ally not because it helps you forget – you never forget- but because is helps you learn.
This is a wound that time never heals, because it is not a wound, something was ripped away from you. I will miss my father every day until the day I die. A loss like a parents death is something that doesn’t heal, is a pain and is an emptiness that I have to learn to live with. I’m still learning and I will probably learn for the rest of my life because I will always need my dad. He won’t get to see my victories, hold my hand in the bad times and we wont get to dance in an airport again.
Its been nearly six months since he died, I don´t cry everyday anymore. There have been good days and there have been days that are better forgotten.
I take showers regularly, I´m eating again, sleeping is still hard and I´ve started this blog.
What I wish someone would have told me
It is a process that is DIFFERENT FOR EVERYONE.
Don´t compare yourself to others. It takes time and a lot of it. It takes a waterfall of tears. It takes fucking up and some days you are not yourself and that is all right. Don´t feel guilty for not being what the world wants you to be! They have no idea what you´re going through.
People tend to feel uncomfortable dealing with other people’s sadness and tears, that is their problem, not yours.
Be patient, it is all right if you are not feeling happy. I kept hearing how I should be grateful for what I had. Of course I am, but that doesn’t take the sadness away and sometimes I was made to feel guilty for feeling sad. Like I wasn’t allowed to be sad anymore. As if there is something like an expiration date and mine has expired.
You´ve lost someone very important; your life will never be the same and it takes time accepting it.
Stop caring about what others think and say you should do or feel. They will never understand what you are going through and the world will always have an opinion, don´t waste your breath trying to make them understand.
Value those true friends that have stood by your side and treasure the wonderful family that has pulled you through.
Treasure them cause you never know if they´ll die before you do. Don´t let your sorrow sink you so deep that it will steal time away from the people you love. I don´t think I would have been able to survive without them.
And finally, letting go. This is the hardest one. It is letting go of the idea of what your life was supposed to be. Letting go of all the plans and ideas that you had, of having your father at your wedding, of not being able to call him, of not seeing his face anymore, of all the things you didn’t say and wish you had.
It is letting go of what it was supposed to be and accepting what is.
This is how after death, a new life begins.
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