Grief….does it change you?

We all know I love IG…..IG stories to be exact….and lately I have been loving the Questions option where you can have your followers ask you a question. I always find this intriguing because I get to see what things my followers find interesting about me and want to know more about. Recently I had a newer follower ask me how grief has changed me. In a conversation back and forth with her I realized she had recently lost her father and was just starting to resurface when it came to her normal activities, something I could 100% relate to. Since it has been awhile since I have talked about grief on here, I figured it was a great time to not only address her question, but to share that answer with those of you who are reading who are also going through some more challenging times.

Grief is a topic I discuss a lot, and for some I think that makes them uncomfortable. What I cannot stress enough is that why you may be sick of me talking about my grief journey, I am sick of my dad being dead. Seriously. I would give anything to NOT have experience on this topic and NOT have anything to write about regarding it.

November will be three years since we lost my dad unexpectedly, and for me, talking about how grief has impacted my life not only helps me keep him alive in some way, but it also helps me help those of you who feel lost and unsure about the feelings and things that you may be experiencing after a traumatic loss. It is my way of dealing with the grief I feel every day. As I have shared before, grief is something that everyone deals with differently. No two people are the same. All I can hope for is that something I say….even the smallest thing…..can help someone in a small way. I’d love to say that my dad’s death has not changed me, but the truth it, is has.

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Change #1: I now struggle being in large crowds.

For some people, this may be very menial, but as a former social butterfly, this has been a difficult change for me and one some have struggled to understand. I have learned that it isn’t so much the people in the crowded areas that bother me, but rather the fact that I worry about being able to leave quickly if I am overcome with emotion. I’m not someone who likes to make a scene (emotionally), so to cry or get uncomfortable in front of large groups of people gives me a sense of panic. Grief is one of those things where something incredibly small can set you off…..for me, it is often a song, a number, a date…..but it could be honestly anything that reminds me of a memory, and there is no saying when something will hit me in a more emotional way. Because of this I often like to drive separate so I have an escape, and usually I try my best to avoid those kinds of plans if at all possible……after all, I do love staying at home with dogs.

Change #2: I am more focused on being a better daughter and friend. 

I have always valued my loved ones and the time I have spent with them more than anything, but ever since losing my dad so abruptly I have been more focused on spending more time with those I love and making more memories, whether it be taking pictures, going places together, talking on the phone more….whatever I can do to be there for those in my life. I’d give anything to have been able to spend more time with my dad…to have gone home more to visit…to have more family dinners together…to go on more runs together….all the little things I miss so much. I want to make sure those in my life get as much time as humanly possible because we never known when that time will be cut short.

Change #3: I have realized the importance of letting go of the bad apples. 

They always say that the best times and the worst times in life show you who your real friends are. That’s one saying that is 100% spot on. To be honest, the majority of people in my life have shown me that they were even more incredible than I already believed them to be. I’m not just talking about when things happened with my dad that awful November day, but ever since. Grief is a nasty journey, and having someone just let you know they are thinking of you on hard days or be understanding when you can’t do something because you are having a panic attack over it or just listen to you talk means so much. I have had a few people who I believed to be extremely close to me treat me like complete garbage since the loss of my dad. At first, it hurt me, especially when I would look at the length of the friendship.  Then I realized that life is too short to spend time with people who are lackluster. Why give up my precious time that could be spent with those who truly DO care about me? #Byefelicias

Change #4: I have realized that I have to find something positive out of the loss of my dad. 

I will never ever be one of those people who says “Everything happens for a reason,” and if you say that to me, I’d take two steps back if I were you because you may be at the receiving end of a pretty aggressive bitchslap, and trust me when I say I pack some power. Things don’t happen for a reason. They happen to us, and we have to choose how we are going to react. I have always remained firm in the thought process that I have to use this loss to move me forward, not back. Unfortunately, being one of the first in my group of friends to lose a parent as an adult, I was in pretty unchartered waters. One of my high school friends, Crystal, had lost her dad several years prior and helped me a great deal, but other than that I didn’t have much to go by. Was what I feeling normal? Should I do this or that? Where can I go for support? I had so many questions. Unfortunately, two of my closest friends each lost their father in the past few months. Both had been dealing with difficult illnesses, and it was so hard to watch them begin the grieving process. If anything, the loss of my dad gave me some tools and experience to hopefully provide them some comfort and help them with their grieving process. It sucks knowing that at some point in your friendship, all of your friends will go through this. It may sound morbid, but it is true.

Change #5: I take bigger risks. 

I’ve always been one to dream big and set crazy goals for myself. It wasn’t until losing my dad that I realized how important it was to go after the things I always talked about. We only have a limited amount of time on this planet. I’m going to do everything in my power to live the fullest life I possibly can and check things off my bucket list, one by one. I’m more driven than I have ever been. I’m more focused than I have ever been. I think most of this stems from me knowing that my dad is watching my every move, and I want to make him proud.

I truly believe that as people we have to be willing to grow every day. One of my favorite authors, Rachel Hollis, couldn’t have said it better. She said: “Is life happening TO you or is life happening FOR you?” Often bad things happen to us and we wallow in sadness and say we can’t do more/ be more/ try more because we are victims. Why? ALL of us have bad shit that has happened in our lives. We all have our own story, and we all have the CHOICE to move forward and not backward. Sharing about my grief moves me forward.

I’ll be dealing with this loss for the rest of my life. Don’t sit there and try to tell me it get easier. It doesn’t, and if someone tells you it does, they are a liar. You learn over time ways to try to cope…..but that pain and sadness becomes a part of your heart until the day it stops beating. I’m still living my best life. I still have fun and laugh and do all the things I did before this happened to me. I’m just now living with more zest and passion because I know at any moment it could be gone, just like it was for my dad.

For those who have been my rock since November 20, 2015, please know how much I love and appreciate you. Your kindness means the world to me.

For those who have shown me their true colors, thank you for allowing me to see them so I can make more time in my life for those who truly care about me.

For those new to this grief stuff, please know you are not alone, and it is OKAY to share how you feel and how things have changed for you. “Those who matter will not mind, and those who mind, do not matter” -Dr. Seuss

And for all those who have a pulse, never, ever judge. You never know what hardships others may be facing behind closed doors. Smile at strangers more, give more hugs, and spread kindness around like confetti.

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