My heart is heavy and still learning how to pick itself back up, how to put back together all of the pieces, after this past week. But one piece will always be damaged. I suppose that is what happens when you lose a father.
My father passed away Tuesday afternoon after his battle with cancer and other medical complications.
I had been keeping you all updated on his battle and appreciated every bit of your words of hope for his fight. He really did fight until the very end. Never a man to give up or let anyone or anything stand in his way if he really wanted it, this did not surprise me.
When he and my mother went in to the first appointment with his cancer doctor after he successfully made it through his first round of intensive chemo-radiation treatments and the doctor told him the cancer was not going away…but spreading…my mother told me the first words out of my father’s mouth were “Well, what do you we do next? My daughter just got engaged and I have to be here for her wedding.”
I cannot put into words what it felt like to see him go through the hell that he did while still fighting to hang on and make it through to be here to walk me down the aisle. I have cried and cried and then just when I think it’s over, cried even more. My mother and I both have been absolute basket cases over the past couple of weeks. I don’t know what I would do without my mother here for support, but to also give support to. When I am weak, she is my strength. And when she is weak, I am her strength.
I know there are others out there who may have lost a loved one they were very close to, so I thought I might put together some advice on how to begin to conquer what may seem to be an insurmountable mountain of pain and grief.
5 Tips on How to Cope with Grief
1. Lean on other loved ones–friends and family–for support. If they offer it, consider taking it. As much as I’d love to claim my so-called status of being a strong-willed, determined, stubborn Taurus woman there is no way I could have stood on my own with the loss of my father without them.
My mother, Wade, and all of the dear friends who have offered a listening ear, words of support and encouragement, or even some homemade baked goodies–all of them are appreciated.
2. Take time to cry. And then cry some more. Even if it happens to be in the waiting room of a dentist office or walking down the grocery store aisle and you happen to stumble upon a favorite snack of your father that you used to get onto him about eating too much of because you cared about his health.
Just make sure you take the time to cry. The crying has to get out of the way to make room for the smiles you will be hoping for while recalling fond memories of yourself with your loved one.
3. Continue to take care of yourself. Even when it seems like the idea of eating is pointless when all you want to do is crawl up into a ball and sleep for 2 days straight.
These past few days, my mother and I both have made a point to continue to eat regularly, get as much rest as we can, and I’ve even been continuing my regular routine of exercises each day. The exercise videos and strength training workouts as well as the walks outdoors have aided in stress relief.
4. Give to others. Especially those who have helped you in your greatest time of need. Research has shown that giving, in some form or another, can lift one’s spirits.
I suggested that my mother and I spend a good day baking up some homemade breads and cookies to give to those who have offered their helping hands in assorted ways with the passing of my father.
5. Keep your loved one alive. You could do this by telling their stories to others, taking on one of their hobbies, having a donation made to a charity in their name, etc.
One example of how my mother and I are doing this is by having family and friends send donations to a local animal shelter in my dad’s honor in lieu of flowers. Flowers die, but that money that is donated may help save an animal’s life.
Another example is my mother and I are going to make a point to fish together more often. My dad would have been so proud we continue to fish because of what he taught us.
Though my life will never be the same without seeing my dad whenever I need to, without gazing fondly at the mess of freshly caught fish he would bring home, without hearing his laugh (even if it was at those stupid TV shows that drove my mother and I nuts), without having him here with me in this world as my constant rock…I know he will never be forgotten.
And I plan on living my life to the fullest with him fondly in my memories and forever in my heart.
I love, Dad. Always.
–Your Kaylin Ray