Three years ago today, the only “real” Dad I ever knew fell out of the sky. Literally.
I had only known him for seven months and he had only been married to my mom for 57 days. We anticipated being a family forever.
Forever wasn’t nearly long enough.
So what do you do? What happens when you lose someone so suddenly and too soon? How do you spend the milestones and get through the ordinary moments of day-to-day life?
I spent almost a year in deep grief. I’m talking about the kind of grief I never thought I would get out of. I was angry at God, my mom, the people who got more of him than I did, and anyone who had a dad…both the ones they took for granted and the ones who loved their dads like I loved mine. There were days I asked what the point of life was. I couldn’t grasp my new reality. I spent months in grief counseling and spent most of my days lying on the couch wondering if I would ever get back to life.
The answer is yes. I did eventually get back to life. Over time, I learned how to survive the triggers of grief. Here’s what to do do when forever isn’t long enough.
- Grieve. Whatever that looks like. For me, I cried a little in the beginning. But honestly, writing is what helped me work through it. For some, it’s running or listening to music or a grief group. Whatever it is…do it. You have to grieve. You have to feel the pain in order to transform it. Otherwise, you’ll only bury it and it will hold you captive forever. By the way, there is no right or wrong way to grieve. Don’t listen to people who tell you there is…they have probably never experienced real grief before.
- Live. I know that sounds insane, but trust me. It took me months before I started to live again. One of the very first things I did was I went back to school. It was hard and it was different. It felt like an out-of-body experience. I felt like nobody on the planet could ever possibly understand how angry I was. But every class I went to, assignment I turned in, conversation I had made the next one a little more “normal.”
- Serve. Dad died on April 12. It wasn’t until December that I said “yes” to serving for our kids director at my church. I needed a shift in perspective. Getting outside of myself and serving another human being is exactly what I needed. Little did I know, that small “yes” to serving in kids ministry on Sunday mornings would turn into an entirely new lifestyle. Serving at my church and in my community helped me to take my focus off of my grief and helped me to create a whole new mentality.
- Remember. Moving on isn’t about forgetting the one you have lost. It’s about figuring out how to live while remembering them. There are things I do everyday that are because of the seven short months I knew Bucky. One of the biggest things I did to remember Bucky was I legally changed my last name to his in May 2015.
- Carry on. Do the things you used to do with the one you lost. For me, I go to Brewhouse and eat Panama wings and have a beer, eat Godiva chocolates, go to Baskin Robbins for Gold Medal Ribbon ice cream. I ride the Wild Eagle at Dollywood. I drive the Miata with the top down like I’m racing a go-kart.
Three years ago today, my world stopped turning. I honestly did not think I was going to make it through the day, let alone the next three years. By the grace of God, I’m better now. I have learned how to live again.
I remember sitting in a field that day and being so angry at God and swearing I would never trust Him again. Thirty-eight days ago, I got baptized again to announce to the world that I was finally resting in Jesus again. If you are grieving the loss of someone and asking yourself the same questions I was three years ago, I want you to know that it DOES get better. I promise.