I asked a few months ago for my friend Jen from Jen’s Daily to write a guest post about death and mourning someone close to you. She has recently been through some really hard times and is coming out of the other side of it happy and healthy. I am constantly in awe of her grace and honesty in the face of tragedy and really wanted her to share her story with you. Her story is such a different perspective on death from what I am dealing with in regards to the death of my Memaw, that I wanted to show everyone a different perspective.
April 13 was the 1 year anniversary of my world changing forever.
That morning started like any other, but I had this weird feeling that something wasn’t quite right and I had a horrible stomach ache all morning. Tuesdays were a day that my kids and Dad looked forward to all week; it was Papa Day. We would meet at the library, go to lunch and then go to my parent’s house where my Dad and daughter would snuggle on the couch watching whatever she wanted, I got to relax and my son would nap.
I talked with my Dad around 9am that Tuesday to make sure we were still on for later that morning, he said he had a couple of errands to run but would meet us at the library. I called him at 11:15 because we were running late, but he didn’t answer his phone. We got to the library a few minutes late, he wasn’t there, and still not answering his phone. Almost immediately I started having this feeling that he wasn’t coming and we needed to go to my parent’s house. After 20 minutes of waiting and unable to reach him, we left. I was certain that he had left his phone in the car, and was inside asleep on the couch, when we got to the house and opened the garage and his car wasn’t there, my heart sank and I just knew something was wrong. My brother and I spent the next few hours searching everywhere for him, calling anywhere he could be, driving everywhere and he was nowhere to be found…unfortunately, we had no idea what errands he was going to be running that morning. In hindsight, I’m really glad we didn’t know where he was going, because knowing the details of the accident and how long it took to get him out of the car and the details of how the car looked; I’m so happy we didn’t drive there and see it firsthand.
At 2:19pm, the doorbell rang. I almost threw up when I opened the door and saw two detectives as well as my brother’s best friend (they are both firefighters) standing on the porch. They sat us down and told me my worst fear. They told us there had been a tragic and devastating car accident that morning and the only victim was our dad. The truck driver who hit him lost control of his truck and crossed over 3 lanes of traffic before colliding head on with the SUV my dad was driving. Thankfully, he was killed instantly. There was no suffering, he was gone before he could have known what happened. Unfortunately for us, there was no warning and no goodbye. His place in the garage would remain empty, while a once empty cemetery plot was now full.
The following days, weeks and months are pretty much a blur. I did what I had to do to exist. I felt guilty for not crying everyday, I felt guilty FOR crying every day, I was full of hatred for the truck driver, and didn’t know what to do.
It’s been over a year and some days I still don’t believe it. I still expect to see a text from him, a phone call to see how the day is going, every time I see a car like his driving down the road, I still expect it be him driving.
I have learned a few things about grieving, but the most important thing I have learned is that there is no right or wrong way to grieve. Everyone and every situation is different. It’s ok to smile again.
- It’s ok to take care of yourself again.
- It’s ok to cry; and it’s ok not to cry.
- Take time to grieve, there isn’t a time-table.
- Embrace your family and lean on them. My brothers, mom and I are SO much closer because of this, because we need each other more than ever.
- Don’t hold in your emotions.
- Do things that used to make you happy.
- Keep yourself healthy. I had major guilt because I wanted to keep going on my weight loss journey and continue working out on a regular basis, but at first, I just couldn’t do it. I felt so guilty to do anything for myself. I have since learned that it’s not selfish, it’s important to keep healthy so you can stay strong.
The cemetery is on a road I travel almost every day. I stop in and say hello to him, and just talk to him. Last summer, I would go once a week by myself and have a good cry. Each time I was there, as soon as I would sit in the grass, it seemed as if the sky got a little brighter, the sun shone more and got warmer, at times it felt like I was being hugged. I don’t say I’m healed, but I am on the way to healing. It’s been a very long year, and while it certainly is not easy, it is easier to handle.
You never know how you will react until you are thrown into this situation. It’s the biggest, hardest, heart wrenching struggle I have ever had to endure and my thoughts and prayers will be with anyone who is grieving the loss of a loved one.