Here is what I’ve learned in my 52 weeks (365 days) of life after the loss of my Dad, the sweetest man I’ve ever known:
1. Hearing the voice of your lost loved one in your head is just a part of dealing, find comfort in their voice in your head.
2. You will lose friends. You will also learn who your true friends are.
3. There is no timeline or end date to grief.
4. People will think you’re fine the month after your loss. Don’t give into other peoples’ expectations of you.
5. It’s exhausting : physically , mentally, emotionally.
6. Family members grieve differently. No wrong or right way.
7. The hurt stays with you and becomes a part of you.
8. You have to find a way to love the grieving version of yourself.
9. It helps to meditate.
10. Crying is okay.
11. Talking out loud to your lost loved one is normal, not crazy.
12. Everything in moderation – trips down memory lane, listening to old voicemails etc.
13. Grief can often times look like anger.
14. No one will understand the complexity of your unique individual grief.
15. There is power in remembering your lost loved one.
16. Give yourself grace when others won’t.
17. Grief can make you fear death- don’t let it win.
18. Writing helps as an outlet for emotions and memories with no place to go.
19. Time doesn’t heal all wounds but it makes the pain manageable.
20. Anxiety in the work place can intensify as your grief progresses- be kind to yourself.
21. Grief is not linear. It has progression and regression – that’s okay.
22. Ride the wave – don’t fight it.
23. It’s okay to put their picture away for a little while and come back to it when you need it.
24. You will NEVER forget them – don’t worry about that.
25. Show love and appreciation to those who have stuck by your side.
26. Set aside time (any amount of time) everyday to check in with yourself.
27. There is no shame in taking more or less time in the grieving process than someone else.
28. Grief can be lonely and isolating.
29. Go on walks as often as possible.
30. Travel often but don’t run from your grief. It will be waiting for you when you get home.
31. Grief will permanently change you as a person.
32. Embrace the person you’re becoming as you grieve and be real with yourself when grief is getting the best of you.
33. Ask for help on days you’re struggling.
34. Set boundaries, don’t over extend yourself.
35. Listen to music that makes you feel happy.
36. Close your eyes and remember what it felt like to hug them.
37. Sometimes you forget they are gone and then it hits you like a ton of bricks when you remember.
38. People around you won’t always know how to support you – don’t be afraid to tell them how to.
39. Find ways to honor your lost loved one : flowers, memorials, events, poems etc
40. Holidays hit different – try your best to remember your lost loved one wants to see you smile.
41. Now is not the time to be a people pleaser- take care of yourself. It’s not selfish, it’s necessary.
42. Don’t use your grief as a crutch. Life goes on with or without you.
43. Use your grief as motivation – to live each day to the fullest, to get healthy, to be better.
44. Remember your favorite quality about your lost loved one and try to adopt that quality as your own to honor them.
45. Don’t try to share signs from your lost loved ones too often – those signs are for you to cherish and find comfort in.
46. Don’t drink when you’re sad or alone. It won’t help, it will make it worse.
47. There is no room for non- supportive people in your life at this stage. Wish them well and nurture the relationships that bring you comfort.
48. Know your limits and triggers. Create a safe space to process triggers ( i.e. songs, pictures, movies)
49. You matter, your grief matters but not everyone has time to acknowledge it. That’s okay – it’s not their job. It’s your job to tell yourself “ I matter”.
50. Exercise!!!! It’s important to get those endorphins going now more than ever.
51. Try to be around kids or pets – something about their innocence provides a sense of love and comfort
52. Lastly- I was my father’s daughter for 34 years. It’s absurd to think in just a year (52 weeks) that I would be healed of missing him. It’s impossible. I’ll mourn and miss him until the day I’m reunited with him. But my life is far from over – learning to live without him is a part of life. It’s an honor to have known such a beautiful person and spend the rest of my life making him proud.