How to Deal with the Loss of a Family Member

I’ve dealt with the loss of a family member a lot in the past few years. Even though I know that death is an inevitable part of life, it never gets any easier to say goodbye to the people I love. But there are, of course, ways to cope and try to be at ease with their passing.

This blog is by no means the end-all, be-all of grief and loss. This is merely how I dealt with loss. Recently, I’ve lost my aunt, my dad, and my newborn son, in addition to a couple members on my husband’s side of the family. I merely write this blog in the hopes that it’ll reach someone who needs a pick-me-up. Maybe this can serve as some support as you grieve the loss of a loved one. You may feel alone, but you are not. And you never will be.

My Experience with the Loss of a Family Member

Yesterday marked the three year anniversary of my Dad’s death. I still remember the day that I found out. It was only a few months before my wedding day. I was working at one of the shittiest jobs I’ve ever had, and I received a text from my sister– or mother, I forget– that said something along the lines of they have to tell me something. I went to the breakroom and called them, and I basically had to force it out of them. They didn’t want to tell me while I was at work. But they did. And when they did, I screamed hysterically in the back of that store, crying inconsolably.

My sister told me that my dad had a heart attack, and he didn’t even make it to the hospital. He had been dealing with health problems for the most of my adolescent life, including undergoing many surgeries. But, this still can as a surprise. He had never had a heart attack before.

I remember clocking out without asking permission from my manager and driving all the way home by myself, trying to see the road through tears and blurred glasses.

Give Yourself Time to Grieve Your Loved One

The process of dealing with the loss of a family member was a difficult one, especially the loss of a parent. People’s parent die all the time, but I never imagined it happening to me so soon. And my wedding was coming up. We had just talked about what he would wear when he walked me down the aisle. And now, he’d never be able to do it. He’d never see me in my beautiful dress. He wouldn’t be able to see my son, Kai start kindergarten.

So, I did what any writer does when she feels feelings. I wrote. I wrote what I imagined could be my dad’s eulogy, but just ended up writing about a dream that I had when I was really little. It was a dream in which my dad was literally my hero, saving my sisters, mother, and I from monsters. After writing and editing it, it ended up being a little piece I read at his funeral. That piece of writing, even though it was read for to the entire funeral audience, was for me. Just for me and how I felt about my father. And that piece of writing served as a nice little reminder about how my dad can still be my hero from heaven, where he no longer feels pain.

I was also in charge of creating a slideshow to be shown at the wake, which was held at my house. I went through pictures I had of my dad, and some pictures that my aunt gave me from their childhood. I got to reflect on his life with these pictures. I created a sweet little video put to one of his favorite jazz songs. I cried a lot while making the slideshow, but when it was finished, it kind of helped create peace in my mind.

loss-of-family-memberTry Not to Live with Regret

It’s unfair that my dad left me before I wanted him to. Th
e loss of a family member is never planned and will never be easy to deal with. I can list the endless things that he missed because he died when I was 22. But making that list would only cause me more stress and sadness. I keep trying to remind myself that everything happens for a reason. My dad passing was in God’s plan and somehow was the thing that needed to happen. And I had to be okay with not knowing exactly why.

I still miss him every day and I actually regret a lot about our relationship when he was with me. I was an angsty teenager growing up, and I got embarrassed by him a lot. I would only confide in my mom and deny my dad of getting to know me better because I was a girl, or because I thought I didn’t need him, or because I had my now-husband, Garrett. But after my dad died, I realized how I should have cherished every second with him. Great dads are hard to find sometimes. Dads that stick around. Dads that want nothing more than for you to be happy. Dads who will not judge you when you make bad decisions. Dads who will find a solution to a problem. Dads like mine.

There is no right or wrong way to grieve your family member. The right way is your way and no one else’s. I got through grieving my dad’s passing by writing about him, praying, looking at his photos, and believing that he hasn’t actually left me.

I sometimes get the feeling that someone is with me when I’m alone in my house. Like that feeling that someone is watching over your shoulder. When my son, Levi, was born, he would sometimes look past me when I held him, as if he was seeing something– or someone– that I could not. And now, I’m at peace because I believe that these signs mean my dad is still here with me. I am at peace believing that my dad was at my wedding, and that he is still with me right now. And he’ll never truly leave me even though his physical being is no more.

I hope that you can find peace after the loss of a family member. But don’t rush it. Indulge in the memories. Let yourself cry. Give yourself time to heal.

Your lost loved ones are still with you.

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