Purple is the New BlondeJune 5, 2019
NO ONE IS PREPARED TO GRIEVE
When you lose someone close - blogs, friends, and strangers offer advice on what's to come or what you might expect with the coined phrase "everyone grieves differently." However, until you experience it for yourself, there's really no way of predicting how you will process such a depth of loss, and there is so much truth in that overused phrase.
Almost 9 months ago my healthy 56 year old Dad, Randy Faile, was taken from this world by a heart attack. Ripped right out of the hands of my sister and I and his soulmate wife of 33 years, my mom. I will not be sharing my grief journey in this post but I will say, I was not expecting such sorrowful "firsts" after my Dad died. It's the seemingly insignificant moments that really prick you when you least expect it. Father's Day is a given, but attending my first Clemson game without my dad, winning our first kickball game (our team is notorious for loosing) without a call to my Dad to share the news, and getting a text from my Dad's number asking "who is this" because his phone number had been reinserted into the system. Those were all unexpected firsts that left behind prickers.
CELEBRATING FATHER'S DAY WITHOUT DAD
Every few Father's Days I would give my dad an "experience gift" which was usually either a mud run we'd compete in together, a weekend hiking trip or Clemson game. With this Father's Day I wasn't sure what to do. I didn't know if I wanted to ignore what I was missing to divert the inevitable pain or celebrate the life of a man that was absolutely excellent at being my Dad and who shaped the 28 year old woman I am today. I know "it'll get easier" but I'm not living in the easier, I'm currently in the pain and grief and disbelief that I will never see my Dad on this earth again. It's hard knowing there will be an infinite amount of firsts for the rest of my days here that he will be dolefully absent from. I was on the fence about spending the weekend with my mom at Lake Hartwell, where my Dad most certainly would have wanted to spend Father's Day, because I didn't want it to be two sad people crying all weekend.
There were tears, yes, but there were many more moments of joy. Saturday Mom and I biked into downtown Hartwell and found an abandoned kitty screaming it's little heart out. It immediately relaxed when my Mom picked it up and we seriously considered keeping it but weren't sure how we were going to bike back with a cat. After feeding the little guy some McDonald's milk (great parenting already) we found a wonderful couple willing to take the Kitty. We celebrated our success at Southern Hart Brewery and played games as we ate lunch before biking back. We spent the evening binging This Is Us, which I highly recommend to anyone in need of a wholesome show to warm your heart.
Sunday, after having our morning coffee on the dock, like Dad always used to do, and crying (he didn't do that part) we were supposed to go to brunch at the local golf course. Getting dressed I realized I was going to be surrounded by families celebrating their Dad and I was going to feel that heavy absence so we completely nixed those plans and went to the grocery store instead. My Aunt Nancy who lost her husband, Uncle Steve, shortly before my Dad passed and her daughter, Melanie's family came over to spend the afternoon with us. The house was immediately filled with people laughing and encouraging the competitive spirit Dad loved so much. We even competed in a mini triathlon in his honor including swimming, paddle boarding - where my Mom almost lost her front tooth in an effort to beat Melanie to the dock - and speed walking in crocs. It was ridiculous and loud, and competitive just as it would have been if Dad were still around. Closing the evening all gathered around a table on the deck, we shared funny stories and mannerisms about Dad and Uncle Steve and my heart felt so full.
DON'T APOLOGIZE FOR CHANGE
While you are grieving, things that sound like a really great idea at first, can sound like a nightmare an hour before. You feel guilty canceling plans or committing last minute, but don't. Seriously, your friends are humans at the end of the day and they don't see you 24/7. They don't get to see all the breakdowns and mood swings and hurt that you are in. They may even think you've "moved on" and are "healing" so they don't understand why you keep canceling, or never make plans to hang out anymore. I promise that will come back, it's started to a little bit for myself, but dear friends: BE KIND. Know that grief lasts more than a few months and comes in absolutely unpredictable waves. A life was lost, not a relationship, a whole entire life of someone I loved is gone. In fact, I may go weeks being completely fine and happy and then have one day of impenetrable sadness that was spurred by nothing at all. I allow myself to be this way, and I ask my friends to too. The best thing I personally need is an interested friend, someone who will ask about my Dad, how I'm doing, and follow up with additional questions, not changing the subject if it's sad or awkward. You'd be surprised how loved you can make someone feel, by simply asking them questions about themselves. I've learned so much in this horrific process and hope I can be a better ear to my friends in pain in the future.
Holidays centered around a loved one you've recently lost are inevitably going to be difficult and you can celebrate or remember them in however you need, there's no pressure to do it correctly or too big or too small. As long as you are tender and honest with yourself, you'll get through the first one.