It's 10:06 AM on a random Tuesday morning (I'm not a skipper, folks, my school is on Mid-Winter Break), but I got a weird impulse to write this post.
I hate to keep saying "for those of you who don't know, my dad passed away last month," but it's a necessary evil because many of you are probably hearing it for the first time.
I've written an article about my dad and posted a video tribute to him, but what I haven't done is spoken to you directly. Those things - the article, the video - were for me and my own peace of mind, but chances are some of you have also lost a loved one in the past few months and, like myself, are struggling with how to get by.
When my dad was in the hospital and hooked up to what felt like a thousand different machines doing all of his bodily functions for him, it was really tough. I try to block those memories out, but I can still picture everything with perfect clarity: sitting by his bedside, holding a hand that at times felt too cold and at others too hot, and above all else, trying to reason with my dad that he "still owed me a game of chess."
That chess set we got him for Christmas? We'd only managed to play once.
It was at the moment we knew my dad wasn't going to make it that my aunt told me something that changed my life. She said "You need to do something with this." She said that there was going to be another 17-year-old girl who was in my exact position:
She would be holding back tears with enough force to make her head pop,
she would be asking God (or whoever she believed to be "up there") why this had to happen,
and eventually, she would have to accept - no, cope with - fate.
Are you that 17-year-old girl?
Okay, maybe you're not 17. Maybe you didn't lose a parent, but a grandparent, a sibling, a friend. Maybe you're not even a girl.
But while I can't see or hear you, I feel like we're linked by an invisible thread. I know that sounds really, really, really corny, but it's true, isn't it? Whether it makes sense or not, we're connected, and we owe it to ourselves to support each other.
So, for any of you who might be trying to cope with the loss of a loved one, here are my tips, observations, snide remarks (heh), and advice:
"You're just grieving."
First off, I hate the term "grieving." It doesn't do our feelings justice, you know? But you're going to hear it about a thousand times from relatives, self-help books, and counselors (if you choose to see one), so I guess we just have to roll with it. The thing I want to say about this whole process is that it's going to be crazy, horrific, weird, sobering, sporadic, gut-wrenching, and life-changing all at the same time. At times you're probably going to feel like an ass for having certain thoughts, while other times you'll feel content in the fact that you tried to be a good daughter, son, sibling, friend, etc. to the person you lost. Grieving (there, I said it!) is one wild ride. Probably because we don't have control over it.
Caught in a Whirlwind
In the week or so after losing your loved one, your house is probably going to feel pretty chaotic. People are going to be checking in on you constantly, your mailbox is going to be stuffed to the brim with sympathy cards (some of which aren't even that sympathetic), and you're not going to have to cook for about 3 weeks because people will keep bringing you donuts and homemade chili (because they don't know how else to help). I like to call this the "whirlwind phase" because there's so much going on around you. Sometimes you won't even have a chance to be alone or cry. It'll feel like you're stuck in a bad dream, and any minute the person you lost will walk right through the front door - probably asking who brought the donuts.
For the millionth time, "Are you okay?"
WARNING: People are not going to know what to say to you after you lose somebody.
But of course, they never know.
and a horizon is nothing save the limit of our sight."