What daily life looks and feels like 2 weeks after losing a parent to now
The first few days after we lost Dad, I got to reschedule all of my shoots other than a wedding I had, but now that everything is kind of getting back to normal it’s proven to be just as difficult to go through the day, just in a different type of way. At first grief felt like an open wound that was just constantly painful and tearing and impossible to work through. Now, a few weeks through, it feels like the wound has been trying and trying to heal but every few hours the little scar tissue it’s form is cut open again and everything pours back out.
For me, it’s both easier to be around people and more difficult. On one hand, it’s nice to be distracted by work because that’s really the only time I haven’t been crazy overwhelmed with emotions. But, I don’t really know how to act around people because I’m constantly worried about making them feel sad or feel sorry for me or I don’t want make them feel awkward and that they have to say something. I also never really know what to say when people ask how I am – I mean, I’m awful honestly, but do you really want to hear that? I know people really want to help and want to make me feel better, but I’m not sure if anyone even can. I’m not sure how to even make myself feel better.
So, two weeks out, it’s still not okay. Every moment along is haunted by my dad’s permanent absence. Every moment I’m not distracted, I’m constantly trying to listen to his voice in my head or picture his face so I don’t forget and it’s overwhelming.
A friend of mine did gift me a book called Mourning & Dancing which is a two week reading plan through scripture about seasons of life of both mourning and dancing and I’m only on day two, but it’s amazing and extremely encouraging so far. I’ll be doing a full book review on that after I finish in a couple weeks and will link that here ⭐️
I wish I could say that things have improved. In some ways, they have. It’s less raw. But the abscence of dad is stronger than ever and some days it feels like I just got the call from mom that dad had a heart attack again. I still can’t go down the road that he drove behind me following me to see my house two days before he passed away. I can’t look at pictures of the last day we went to dinner because it’s too hard to think about the fact that I didn’t even want to go to dinner with him that night. Sometimes even phone calls from my mom scares me. My anxiety has gotten much, much worse. I’m now constantly thinking of if my family is okay, if I should text them just to double check them. I’m always worried about my brother and sisters. We’ve each struggled with this in our own way – depression, self-medicating, anger, suicidal thoughts, self-harm thoughts. I finally went through my dad’s stuff in the garage and I cried and was mad and angry through the whole thing. We’ve almost gotten all of his vehicles sold and I hate every step that we take because it feels like we’re getting rid of him more and more.
8 mo. Update
I’m actually, finally in a better place. It’s interesting to me to watch the grief process in myself mentally and physically. I have been waiting to write about it just in case I just had a good week, but it’s been around 3 weeks that I feel like I’ve had closure and I’m hopeful things are better. My dad passed away at 49 of a sudden, massive heart attack. I can’t say that it’s unexpected – we all knew my dad had high blood pressure, refused to take his medication and he seemed to age extremely quickly his last ten years or so. My sisters and I expected cancer just because of how sickly he seemed sometimes. He never stopped working at a million miles an hour – he had one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. He supervised teams of guys cleaning out those giant tanks that held tons of gasoline or oil or something (if you’re from Tulsa, the big tanks that say Magellan on them on 131st & 75) and in the past 5 years there’s been a ton of them that blow up, killing dozens. It’s a very high stress job, mentally and physically and he’s done it since I was little; so cancer wouldn’t have been a surprise. I had been waiting since his passing to get an autopsy report just to know what was going on. Would he have had a chance for a normal life if they could have brought him back? Would he be able to work again (where he got his fulfillment?) Would he be the same person? It turns out, probably not to all of those things. He had no cancer, surprisingly, from all of the smoking he had done since he was 14. His heart and lungs were almost triple the size they should have been, which is just amazing to me that he could work like he did through that. It really shows how hard of a worker dad was.
So somehow, finally getting his autopsy report, I feel okay. Multiple people in the health field have explained, which I already knew a little bit of, that even if he had been brought back he more than likely would not have had normal brain function, let alone physical. He would have had to have multiple bypasses, take a lot of medication, and apparently once your heart has worked that hard and grown in size like that it’s a process that can’t be reversed.
I’m still sad now, but different. I can think of him mostly without having a meltdown and being able to think about the good and bad parts of him without being angry and I can allow myself to just miss him, now.
I think something I have to figure out now is, what do I do with this? Dad’s life was a gift, is his loss something that can make people feel not alone through me? Or do I not really talk about it? I feel like if I talk about it now on Instagram, it makes people feel sad/awkward/feel like they have to comfort me. Im not sure how to not come across as a ‘woe is me’ situation but how to just talk about what I’m feeling, ya know?
Do I write a full post about Dad, his life and it’s affect on me? How do I memorialize him? I have tattoos of my biological dad’s signature and my stepdads signature who have both passed. I thought about getting those removed and getting three butterflies, but I’m really not sure what to do.