What helped me in my grief

Losing a loved one forever is by far the hardest experience we have to go through in life. Our author tells what helps her the most in her grief.

Losing my parents before I’m an adult and strong enough to deal with it has always been my biggest fear. All other fears, e.g. B. going into the dark cellar alone or accelerating a car to 120 km/h have faded with time and experience. For as long as I can remember, this one fear has haunted me throughout all phases of my life. Unfortunately, on January 29, 2017, that fear became a reality. I was almost 30 that day, but nowhere near grown up or strong enough to deal with my father’s death. And unfortunately it was just with this fear the reality is much worse than I imagined …

God was no help

To be honest, I was actually annoyed at the time that I couldn’t just believe in God and heaven. The thought of my dad chilling on a cloud with our white shepherd and throwing her a few balls every now and then would definitely have been uplifting. After all, I had my dangerous half-knowledge about the law of conservation of energy, which supposedly says that energy in our universe is never lost, but only ever converted. At least that way I could imagine that some of my father’s energy passed to me after his death. 🤨

Dad is always right

Of course, it was not a scientifically unfounded and completely unqualified imagination that gave me the strength to continue – my father gave me that! He was a really great, lovely, loving, responsible and very smart person who I have always admired. In one of our last conversations (which I didn’t know at the time, my father died very surprisingly for me!) he said to me, that he believes in me, is proud of me and believes that I am going my way. I can’t remember the exact wording, but the message was clear. And that made a deep impression on me, because I’ve never seen my father say such things lightly.

I have to be clear that at the time it didn’t look like I was going to get my life back on track anytime soon: I had a job that made me deeply miserable, financial problems and as you can imagine that’s what I was about mentally in pretty bad shape. Yet my father was still proud of me – and dad was always right!

What helps me in my grief: An attractive man is holding his cute baby

© Susanne Schumann / Private

My father enriches my life – to this day

After my father died, it rained in northern Germany for a few weeks (no joke, check the weather records!) and After that, my life only went uphill: I switched from my professional hell to my absolute dream job, got my money management under control (despite a manageable salary😉) (for me the magic word was simply “set priorities”) and my self-confidence easily rose to a solid level, where you get a real zest for life again.

Maybe the early thirties are the ideal time in life for such things to happen. My father once told me that he was insecure as a young man and only became really self-confident when he was 30. But in my case, something else definitely played a very important role: My father convinced me! He believed in me, and I’m sure he had good reasons for that. So I started believing in myself too. And that was obviously the decisive measure for me to find my way that makes me happy.

Signs you don't love yourself: A young woman hides under her sweater

More than a message

I know most people have very different fathers, backgrounds and problems than I do. But what specifically helped me to cope with my father’s death wasn’t so much his message and my boost in self-confidence – that “only” helped me to cope with my life. Above all, I found solace in the knowledge that my father has shaped and influenced my life so strongly to this day, even though he is no longer directly with us. When I’m scared and faced with a challenge, I tell myself Dad believes in me and I feel renewed courage. When I’m feeling stressed and overwhelmed, I remind myself that Dad is proud of me (indeed he was when he had far fewer reasons to be than he is now), and I realize that I’m just stressed because I’m doing too much ask of me.

My father lives on not only in my memory and heart, but in all my actions and decisions – because he gave me sooo much. I think that’s true of most people who, when they leave, leave behind someone who loves them and who they loved. In any case, this fact helps me to this day to accept that my dad can no longer answer me or see how well I am doing now. It doesn’t really help against the missing, the pain and the tears. But against the bewilderment, the powerlessness and the strife.

What I personally also found very healing:

  • To write letters: Although I didn’t speak to him every day before his death, I’ve missed communicating with my father terribly ever since! It makes me incredibly sad that he doesn’t notice so much. That’s why I write him regular letters updating him on anything—on his birthday, the anniversary of his death, Father’s Day, or just because I feel like it. I just gossip to him like I used to sometimes do. It feels good to me every time.
  • Travel to the sea: We said goodbye to my father at a burial at sea and I really have to admit: When I was at the sea for the first time afterwards, I somehow felt very close to him! This was very surprising for me, since I always thought that I wasn’t so receptive to the supernatural, but no way – apparently there is a little spark of spirituality dormant in me. Since this experience, I have definitely decided that I want to go to the sea at least once a year to visit my father’s “grave”. After all, a feeling of closeness is almost a bit like real closeness…

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