Dad, Grief

Dear Dad,

I think I need to find a therapist.

I’ve said that off and on for years as I suffer through anxiety attacks and insomnia. I’ll go through bad phases where I’ll seriously consider finding a therapist, and then I’ll start to feel better and the urgency fades. I’ve realized lately, however, that I owe the previous years of coping to you. Somehow, having you to call always helped. Even if I didn’t discuss with you the actual issues stressing me out, just talking to you about anything always helped. Just knowing you were there when I needed to talk, whether or not I actually did, this did more for me than I ever realized.

“My head’s not on straight right now.”

I’ve used that phrase a lot lately, talking to family and friends. I’m depressed. I’m anxious. I’m not sleeping. I’m eating non-stop and I’m struggling with any level of patience. And it’s your fault. I drove around this weekend thinking about the weekends in my life I’ve done just that while talking to you. I’m not sure why, but I always liked to call you when I was driving around town. Maybe the pointless drives reminded me of you. Maybe I just liked the privacy of my car. Either way, most of our phone calls were done with me driving around Huntsville. And this weekend? I needed you. I needed to call you to tell you what’s been on my mind lately. I needed you to sigh and tell me that you didn’t know what to tell me. You were always honest that way. I needed you to bitch about the mundane in your life to make me feel better about bitching about the mundane in mine. I needed you to praise me for something. Anything, really, because I’ve been a bit down on myself. I needed you to agree with me about how hard parenting is, and about how many times we’re simply flying blind. Hoping we don’t crash into the side of any mountains. I needed you to tell me it would be okay. Or at least tell me you understood.

Your house is being auctioned on Saturday. One year after you were hospitalized with kidney failure from Multiple Myeloma. Your house, the house you died hating, will officially belong to someone else. I’m not sure if I’ll ever be able to drive by it to see what happens to it. I’ll probably make someone else do it a few times a year, and then have them report back to me. The Map Store down the road closed. I’d like to tell myself it’s because you were no longer there to appreciate it. Even if you never bought anything from there. I know you enjoyed it’s existence on your street.

I just miss you so much. I find myself scrolling through archives in this blog (Dear Blog, I love you.) and touching the screen when I get to pictures of you. I actually reach out and touch your face on the computer monitor. How cheesy is that? I just can’t stop myself. I’m also sleeping with my old Ewok again. You gave it to me for my 10th birthday. I always meant to ask you, “Why?” We weren’t big Star Wars fans or anything, but it became my favorite toy of my childhood. I took it to sleepovers, to trips out of town, and even to college. I slept with it even well into adulthood. Several years ago it got put in with the kids things, I guess, and I no longer needed it to sleep. But a few months ago, I decided to see if it would help me sleep better. I believe it did, a little. Sometimes I just hold it in my arms and think about how you used to come in my room in the mornings before school, take Ewok and animate him to wake me up. “Time to get up, Kim!” You would say, using Ewok as the messenger. You did that with all the stuffed animals you ever came into contact with. I do it too.

Tomorrow marks one year from when it all began. When I got the call from your doctor that would lead to you going to the hospital, getting diagnosed with cancer, and then giving up treatment to end your life in a residential hospice. February 10th. It is a day that carries with it more pain than the day you died, because that was the end of Dad as I knew you. After that you were sick. And dying. I think that’s why I’ve been in such a funk. The painful anniversaries are rolling in left and right now. Putting me right back in the same mind I was this time last year. Saying goodbye to you.

I miss you, Dad. I don’t think there will ever be a day where I don’t think it. I need your counsel. I need your advice. I need your hugs. And since you’re not here to give them to me, maybe I’ll finally look for that therapist I’ve been talking about finding for years.

Or maybe I’ll just open a beer. And only drink half of it. In your honor.

The swings I grew up on

48 thoughts on “Dear Dad,”

  1. Oh Kim (sigh) I know how hard this time is. For me it was worst than the first Christmas, Birthday etc. I relived every thought, every word said, even the smell of the hospital waiting room. On that first anniversary I even drove to the hosital and sat in the parking lot and cried. It was the closest I could get to her. It gets easier – coming up on her tenth anniversary I can say that. Its hard not having you’re biggest fan – the person who will love you no matter what… just listen. I know he would be proud, even though your life isn’t going exactly the way you want it. He raised you after don’t be so hard on your self. Get past this “milestone” and if you still need a therapist then give me a call, I’m cheap.

  2. These “anniversaries” are always hard. My dad got diagnosed on Dec. 27. Jan. 10 into the hospital for the first time. Feb. 17 he came home, Feb. 20 he went back in and he died on Feb. 28. That was 9 years ago. But, trust me on this, it does get less painful as the years go by, but the first year is always the worst. Everything is too fresh. The pain is still too much. But time will dull the sharpness. But it will remain, which I think is a good thing – I don’t want to forget my Daddy.

  3. My gosh Kim, I’m so sorry that you’re going through this and feeling this way. This was a beautifully sad post – I’m sitting at my desk with tears in my eyes. Hugs.

  4. What a beautiful tribute to your father. So beautifully sad, and yet, at the same time, so very loving. He sounds like he was an amazing man.

  5. Officially crying over here. Nose burning, throat closing up. You’ve done such a wonderful job articulating the subtleties of how safe our parents can make us feel.

  6. Kim – go see that therapist. Seriously. 6 months of counseling is one of the best things I ever did for myself when I went through a rough patch emotionally. It is like a blog without worrying about mean comments (meaning all about you and no judgment).

    Sorry you are struggling. I have days when missing my dad hits me hard – usually the days when I am watching my girls and realizing they will never know him and he never met them. I choose denial as my coping mechanism. I moved far away from my home town shortly after he died and most days I am able to just pretend he is far away like the rest of my family. Healthy? Nope. But it gets me through. (Not suggesting – just sharing!)

  7. Kim, if you are really feeling sad like this I would suggest talking to someone and yeah, maybe a therapist. Moving through this kind of grief is hard hard work. Maybe you need someone to give you a hand.

    I am sending all kinds of light your way.

  8. so beautifully expressed. tears me up for you. i’ve expressed to you before that i can’t fathom it. and i don’t want to have to. how your heart must ache. i wish i could take some pain from you 🙁

  9. i cried reading this. i cried for the pain you are feeling and how hard it must be. i hope you find the help you desire and you start to feel better.

    lots of hugs.

  10. I’ve been to a therapist for a couple different things, and it is really helpful. Even though I am not sure why, its not like they gave me any magic answers, but it really, really helped. I was nervous (I don’t know what to say! Ill jusy cry the whole time!) And I pretty much DID cry the whole time (even when it was pre-marital counseling… I still cried at least once a session), and that felt GOOD. It was like giving all those emotions permission to be felt, and they didn’t go away magically afterwards… but they felt better. I really wish you the best… I feel like I miss your dad, too.

  11. I wish I had words that would miraculously “fix” everything, but of course that isn’t possible. I just want you to know how much I care and empathize.

  12. I am giving you the biggest mental hug right now, just so you know. I would really encourage you to go through with the counseling thing; it can be such a huge help. It also looks like there’s a couple grief support groups run by the hospice (because Google likes me), which has the benefit of being free.
    There are a lot of resources out there, and I’d really encourage you to connect with them. (Also, counseling is available at the Family Services Centre , by the looks of it.) And don’t be afraid to “interview” a counselor, if that makes any sense… find someone you can relate to, that you can build a rapport with.
    And know that you’re not alone, even when you feel like it – there is a lot of love for you even way up here in Canada. Lean on Donnie when you can – that is one of the things that having a partner is all about, after all. Junkie and Stace, too. You have friends who love you – let them love you. Remember you don’t have to be perfect, you don’t have to have it all together, you don’t have to be SuperMom/SuperWife all the dang time! Give yourself the same grace you extend to others. (Because if you’re anything like me, you’re way, way harder on yourself than you’d ever be on anyone else!)
    Anyway, sorry for all the bossy. I mean it in love, promise. *hug*
    Take care, Kim. Really.

  13. Hi Kim, I’ve read several times the pain you are going through at the loss of your father, and I have wanted to comment, but somehow, for whatever reason, I just wasn’t ready. But here goes. I lost my Mom 15 years ago, and with great difficulty, managed to survive it. 7 years later, I lost my Dad. I went through many of the same feelings you are going through, but with a lot of support from my husband and other family members, I again managed to get through it. But, on April 29th of 2009, my husband of 35 years, chose to take his own life. I could spend hours explaining all the reasons why this happened, but they really don’t matter. It happened and there have been many days that I thought I was not going to survive this one. I had days where I felt like I was making progress and then something would happen, some little something, and I was right back there at the day that it happened (or more likely a month later) and I truly despaired that there would ever be a new “normal” for me. Finally, I did seek the help of a therapist. I interviewed several, and since I live in a small town, I went to the larger city, but even there didn’t really find anyone that I totally connected with. I finally heard of someone who specialized in counseling folks like me, who was totally credentialed and met the requirements of my insurance company and we commenced telephone counseling. I think it has saved my life. Part of it is just time. Part of it is having someone that is credentialed, telling me I’m not losing my mind, and part of it is just as you said, having someone to tell me that I’m doing a good job. That I’m going to be okay, and it is coming from someone who at first said “you are a mess and these are some concrete things you can do that should help” so when he says I’m doing well, I believe it. And he doesn’t limit his help to just this thing, but ALL of my issues, which as we all know….we ALL have ISSUES. So, I would encourage you to seek out that therapist…it has only taken a few visits and now the occasional check in visit, to get me to a place where I feel like I’m coping on a regular basis, not just some times. You have my email if you want to talk further or ask any questions. You WILL survive…

  14. I think I’ve only commented maybe once or twice before, but this post really compelled me to say something. You are such a good person- it is so evident in your writing. You work so hard at taking care of everyone around you. As someone who’s been in and out of counseling before, I can only say good things about it. Sometimes you really do just need someone to talk to. While any kind of counselor is helpful, I would recommend seeing a LCSW (licensed clinical social worker). I’ve always had the best experiences with them. Good luck and stay strong. You deserve peace and happiness.

  15. Grief is powerful. Life is sometimes hard. I’m crossing my fingers that you’ll find the right someone to talk to, whether its a professional or the friend that steps in to place at just the right time. (Though I personally have found that during times of heavy emotion, a professional was easier to talk to. Not really because of their training, but more because I didn’t feel guilty or worried about ‘burdening’ them or ‘whining’ when it was someone whose job it was to listen.)

  16. I’m lucky that my parents had me young and are very healthy. I can’t imagine what I will do when something starts to turn. Big, big (hugs) to you.

  17. I think therapy is awesome and can be a great way to help with grief. And I don’t think reaching out to your dad on the monitor is cheesy in the slightest. Good luck on your journey. The Internet has your back. 🙂 Hugs!

  18. I ache for you.

    I’ve done therapy and it really, really helped during a pretty horrid time for me.

    I hope you find comfort, and I hope you don’t mind that I’m saying a prayer for you.

  19. I … have written and erased three sentences now, because I want to say so many things, and none of them are coming out right. But… “Yes.” And “I’m sorry.” And “Having someone who’ll listen to you can absolutely help.” All of that, but, maybe most importantly: “I wish you didn’t have to feel this and I’m sending you my very best thoughts.”

  20. Hi Zoot. Tommorrow is my Dad’s birthday, the day after is mine, the 25th will be the third anniversary of losing him. I wish I could say it will get easier soon, but it doesnt happen quickly. I’m a world away and I wish I could hug you and hold you while you cry, while I cry, and make it all a bit better. I’ve read your blog for so many years and never commented, but I so dont want you to feel alone at this time. I hope some heartfelt words from a complete stranger help a little! Let yourself take the time that you need. Take care.

  21. Oh grief is hard. I am so sorry.
    I would highly recommend finding a therapist (and being willing to find a new one if you and the first one don’t click immediately). It probably seems overwhelming to find one, but, for me at least, it was totally worth it. Grief is hard on everyone in your family. It can be a gift to all of you to have a professional help you through it.
    Hang in there.

  22. Hey, Kim! Seeing a therapist is a really good idea. Please don’t feel ashamed or be afraid to do it, because there’s nothing wrong with getting help. I saw one for a few months after struggling with my dad’s death from cancer (this was back in the early 80s), and she really helped me work through the grieving/anger process and it was SO nice to have someone to talk to – to really be able to say what I was feeling without burdening my mom, who had her own crap to deal with, or making my friends uncomfortable (which I probably did anyway, but, whatever, I was 15!). So,yeah, I highly recommend seeing someone to help you through this. {{HUGS}} God bless!

  23. Kim, really, sounds like not only a therapist but some antidepressants are in order here – just for a major depressive episode – not forever. I am seeing a therapist plus taking meds and am 100 percent better. I wish the same for you!

  24. and Kim, remember, if Donnie has a job (meaning not self employed but group health insurance) you get 4 free visits through the Employee Assistance Program (EAP). Or at least I did. It’s available to any covered family member.

  25. it kills me to read about you and your dad. i lost mine in 2004, and i’m sorry to say it hasn’t gotten any easier. and we didn’t even have a good relationship. the point is, while i know it pains you, i appreciate your honesty because it gives me a chance to sit back and say: “you know what, it IS ok to cry about this.”

    thank you.

  26. I have enjoyed reading your blog for a while. This post has really touched my heart. I lost my dad 14 years ago this past November and i too miss him and think of him everyday. I’m sorry for your pain.

  27. Hi Kim, Sounds like you are going through a hard time and understandably too. I never went through any grief council ling myself but I know it can help some people so I’d give it a try. When all your body is aching for someone you love I don’t think there is a short cut to finding your way out of the pain. I over worked myself for years to stop my brain thinking about the last through years of my fathers life (he had dementia) but ended up with a worn out body and my fears and experiences visited my dreams anyway giving me insomnia. One thing I did read recently which struck a cord with me is the idea of being your own parent. When you are parented well and have a close bond with your parent/s which it sounds like you did, you still have the stability of their love and teaching within you which helps you make the right choices ( does this make sense?). I never got to have adult conversations about my life with my Dad as I was little more than a teen when he fell ill, but I still feel his love within the respect and self regard I have for myself and the way I live my life is how he for the most part would have wished. Your Dad must have been outstandingly proud of you and although you can’t phone him or talk to him (outside of your head) the love he had for you still exists and he still lives on within your life and how you bring up your children.

  28. I just read this (sat nite after auction). I wish I could tell you I was crying for you, because I feel bad for you. Unfortunately, I’m crying for us. I feel the same way. I feel bad for us. All I know to say is that I love you and thank God everyday for you.

  29. do whatever you need to do, girl…your dad would want that for you. and always know how much i love you. i’ve been absolutely horrible with contact for a while, i know, but that doesn’t mean i don’t miss you and your family all the time. holla at me for anything…anytime. i love you.

  30. you and your dad were just right for each other, huh? that is very, very, extremely cool. i am sorry he was gone too soon.

    we’re all out here, whenever you need to “talk.” therapy is overrated. you’d be all, “one of my blog readers said…” and “oh, i heard the smartest thing, that you should… blah blah… now where did i hear that? OH! MY BLOG.” ha.

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