As we wrap up the end of March, I find myself reflecting on the month of February. I’m long overdue in uploading a new blog post, any post really, but especially my “new thing” for February. As I shared earlier this year, I’ve committed to trying something new every month in 2017 as part of my overall goal of reaching outside my comfort zone and keeping myself from getting stuck in a routine. The truth is, February was anything but routine, but it’s been difficult to put it all into words. In late January my world was turned upside down when my father lost a hard fought battle with glioblastoma and I was faced with this big, scary new thing called grief. I know this is far heavier than trying a new exercise class or a fun recipe, but I started this blog to share my experiences with others, which includes all of the good, bad and ugly things life throws at me. I am by no means an expert on the topic of grief, but I hope that by sharing my journey thus far I can bring someone somewhere a little bit of comfort or inspiration in their own journey.
I’ve been incredibly fortunate to not have experienced a deep loss in my first twenty five years of life. I have watched and supported close friends or family members through their own experiences, and I knew one day I would have to face true grief myself, but nothing can really prepare you for this process. If there is one lesson I’ve learned about grief and hardship, it’s that everyone walks their own path. Throughout my dad’s illness, we decided early on to not pass judgement. The way that I handle my sorrow is different than everyone else and no one person is doing it the “right way”. It’s important to respect the actions and attitudes of all those who are grieving, even if it’s not the same way you choose to handle the situation.
Personally, I have always been “strong”. Those that are closest to me have rarely seen me cry. I offer encouraging words and support to those around me while they’re facing their own grief. Today, none of that is any different. I’m a strong woman but that certainly doesn’t mean that I don’t have my moments, or that I’m not thinking about this loss nearly every minute of every day. I haven’t been down this path before so I stick with what I know – to be that rock for those around me. That’s left many people in awe. I can’t count how many times I’ve heard something like “I don’t know how you do it” or “I could never do that, you’re so strong.” But make no mistake, being strong does not make this easy. I have faced so many new things in the past two months and none of them have been easy. There will continue to be many dreaded firsts and new waves of grief. However no one ever promised that life was going to be easy.
My dad was the bravest man I’ve ever known. He stared a terrifying disease in the face and was so courageous. If I can emulate even a fraction of that courage, I know I’ll make him proud. In the midst of the sadness and all of the unknowns, it’s important to me and to my family that we continue to push forward everyday and battle new emotions, difficult moments and small holes in our hearts. The point is that we’re pushing forward. If I could speak to my dad again, and boy do I wish I could, he would tell me to stick with his motto: keep the faith, be positive, and fight hard. So that’s exactly what I’ll continue to do as I walk my path and face these new experiences.