Grief: The One Secret You Don't Want to Keep to Yourself
Written by: Tess G.
On October 10th, 2018, my whole world, and that of my family, flipped upside down and broke into pieces. My dad, best friend, ultimate supporter, and favorite political commentator, passed away suddenly before I was able to say goodbye. While my dad lived a "full" life, I was not ready to see him go. Unexpected goodbyes change you, and every day I am reminded of how this loss has affected who I am now.
For me this “change” was a merciless wake-up call, it has awakened parts of me that I didn’t know existed and surprisingly, I’ve grown to actually like these new learnings about myself. I found myself shedding “rose-colored glasses” and see the reality many live with today. A reality that my dad spoke of , knew deeply, but shielded me from most of my life. The most important thing I remind myself to this day five months later is: When Grief comes knocking it will get in one way or another, no matter how much you try to resist it or ignore it. There is no ignoring loss like this.
Grief has become my secret, but that’s what has been the most isolating, yet fascinating factor of what I call my “grieving guilt”. You know, that feeling that people are getting tired of hearing about what you are going through. The guilt you feel for not wanting to burden someone with your grief related “woes”, but I’m learning that being vulnerable and open is an essential part of healing.
The most surprising outcome of experiencing grief is that it has been an antidote to the selfish twenty-something I very often was. Your twenties are often referred to as “The best years of your life”, but when you are one of the only people you know who has lost a parent, it is hard not to see the contrast between your peers’ experiences and your own. Sometimes you really just wish you could go back to the naivety of not knowing the good ‘ol friend that is grief. The day my dad died, I realized how lucky I was to have a father until I was 23, it catalyzed an empathy that didn't fully exist prior to that day in October. I am now in the “the club of lost daughters”; the club where you find comfort in your common loss through sharing stories with those who “get it”.
The last day I saw my dad, he moved me into my new apartment in a new city, he witnessed me getting my first job and was so unbelievably proud (I no doubt owe him for dealing with my unnecessary panic sessions). I won’t get many of those other “firsts” women my age will have with their dad but, I do know that I can be grateful for all the ones I do have. You’ll realize while your loved one may no longer be here, you will see different ways they prepared you for anything that comes your way even after they’re gone.
One last piece of grief advice I have comes from my dad’s email to me one year ago: “The world is a blank canvas and you simply get to paint the picture you want.”
Here is glimpse of the wisdom and support that I would kill to receive again from him today:
My dad may be gone but he will always be a key part of the foundation of who I am and I realize that more and more each day. If you are reading this because you lost a parent, you’re not alone, you can send me an email any time even if we’re complete strangers please reach out.
If you haven’t lost a parent, give them a call. Spend time doing something with them you may overlook as quality time, ask them about their past, and most of all cherish every single second you have with them. If you have a friend who has lost someone, realize that no matter the time that passes since their loss, they (we) always need that reminder you are there for them. Grief doesn’t go away, and neither should the support system. We don’t want to keep the secret of grief to ourselves.
Resources that helped me
Modern loss gift swap: I have stayed pen pals with the woman I swapped gifts with since.
Instagram Accounts: @Mollyrosenguy #cluboflostdaughters, Alex Elle, @Millenialsgrieving, @dididreamofyou, @modernloss
Others: Barre3, Skiing, Journaling, Meditating, and spending time with those who show you what love is