To the girl who just lost her dad from someone who's been there,
I won't begin by telling you something that you have already heard numerous times. I won't begin by saying "time heals all; you'll be ok; keep your head up; stay strong." Although there's some truth to these phrases, I thought I'd start by telling you the whole truth - without the sugar coating.
The first year will be the hardest. You just experienced a trauma. Think of it like an injury: a cut, a broken bone, a surgery.
The beginning is terrible.
The pain is unbearable.
You have to do things differently because of it but eventually, it begins to heal. Then, all that’s left is a scar, a memory. My dad used to call my scars “battle wounds.” He told me “you will always have them, they will remind you of everything that you’ve been through, and they will make you stronger.”
You rebuild yourself. You will be whole again. But you will never be the same you again.
You will grieve forever.
You'll cry at every holiday.
You'll remove yourself from weddings when the father/daughter dance comes on. The things you used to love might not bring you the same happiness. You'll feel mixed emotions which you can't control.
It’s been almost seven years since my dad passed. It still amazes me that I have lived seven years without the man who was my everything.
He was my saddest goodbye.
The most heartbreaking story I will ever tell.
The hardest lesson I had to learn when I did not want to.
But the truth is, I learned to live without him, I had to search for the good out of the tragic place I was in, I had to develop a new normal. I found solace in the fact that his spirit is still connected with mine, and I still feel his presence in pennies and rainbows and dreams. "What will always define us is how well we rise after falling..." I had to get back up, and you will too.
If anything I want you to know that it’s okay to smile again, it’s okay to laugh again, it’s okay to have a good time at a friend’s wedding or a holiday party. Your tragedy is a part of your story forever, but it doesn’t have to define the next chapters of your life.
Rebecca is a Walker Coach at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. She previously wrote about the loss of her father here.