Growing through loss

I had an epiphany at an Andy Grammer concert.

If you don’t know Andy Grammer, he is an American singer/songwriter and some of his singles have included “Keep Your Head Up”, “Fine by Me”, “Honey, I’m Good”, and “Good to Be Alive (Hallelujah).”

His latest album came out in July and is called Naïve. Grammer has said it’s for the light bringers and the people who choose to see the good in everything, even in the overwhelming chaos of bad. Some of my favorite songs from the album are “I Found You”, “She’d Say”, “Stay There”, and “Best of You.”

My husband and I attended his concert in Indianapolis on Sunday night and it was everything I thought it would be- joyful, inspiring, uplifting, positive, dance worthy, and sing-along-able.

When Grammer got to his song “Wish You Pain” he talked about how going through life’s difficulties can make you a stronger person and can help you grow. To illustrate this idea at his concert he asks an audience member to share a lesson they’ve learned from a painful time in their lives and then writes a song about it on the spot.

It was during this time that I started thinking about the past several years and how I’ve had some of these hard times. My father passed away three years ago, my father-in-law passed away two years ago, and my grandma passed away one year ago. But during that time I met and leaned on my now husband. I prayed more and leaned on God because all of these things were out of my control. I spent more time with my family. I spoke more openly about heartache, grief, and loss. I read and wrote more. I let myself be sad and happy and I spent more time growing into who I am right now.

I still miss them every day but I also know that a part of them is with me. So I’m choosing to lean into that and grow a little each day.

“If it’s stupid to see the good in everything, then call me naive.”

Andy Grammer

Missing my dad on father’s day

I’ve written about my dad passing away unexpectedly at 60 years old and I’ve written about how my grief has changed over the past two and a half years.

I wouldn’t say it has gotten easier, because that’s a strange way to think about it. It sure hasn’t gotten easier he isn’t here. But, I would say as time has passed my grief has changed. I still have some off days but they come and go.

This week I had a few of those days. I was easily annoyed and a little sad and I didn’t know why. It wasn’t until I saw a Father’s Day commercial that it clicked. I was really missing my dad. I saw a grief counselor after my dad died and her words came to mind. She said that your body has a time clock and even if you aren’t thinking about an anniversary or holiday coming up you can find yourself being in a bad mood or upset. She said your body just knows.

That was happening to me. Instead of trying to fix it or push it away I let myself feel sad and then I thought about things that my dad has taught me.

He taught me how to work hard. Whether it was a sport or a career he taught me what it means to work hard at something.

He offered advice when I was unsure of something and it showed me that I am more capable than I might realize. It taught me to believe in myself and to be kind to myself.

He taught me how to ask for help when I need it. He was always there anytime I needed something and today I am able to accept help and ask for it when I need it.

He taught me to let things go and to not take myself so seriously. I tend to take things to heart and overthink things and he helped me learn how to laugh at situations and myself.

I could go on and on because the list doesn’t stop there, but I will just say that I am thankful for the time I had with my dad even if it wasn’t nearly long enough.

Instead of staying here in this feeling of sadness I’m thinking about the countless softball practices my dad took me to and hearing his voice say “finish” during softball games. I’m thinking of summers and bonfires and swimming when he would quiz me while I was on a raft and if I got it wrong he would tip me off of it. I’m thinking about him taking me to see the Disney movie the Princess and the Frog in theaters and watching tv in the basement. I’m thinking about simply sitting on the porch and talking or not talking but just enjoying the time together.

Thanks for everything, dad. I miss you.

Coming to terms with my grief

“Grief is such a specific thing for everyone and it’s a lifelong journey. It’s always there. You deal with it and you go through it and all of the sudden years later it’s like ‘oh no buddy, I’ve been here the whole time.’”

Jason Ritter

My dad died unexpectedly a day after his 60th birthday. I didn’t have the words for a long time and I still struggle to find them sometimes but I’ve learned that my grief ebbs and flows.

It’s now been a little more than two years since he died and my grief has taken a different form. I no longer feel a constant sadness of the things I wish I could have said. When my dad died I thought of the last time I talked to him, the last time I saw him, and the things I wish I could have said to him. At the advice of a pastor I wrote it down in a letter – all of it. How much I love my dad, how much I missed him, how proud I was to have him as a father, and how thankful I am for all the things he’s taught me.

My dad was a constant sounding board. Anytime I was anxious about something or needed advice I would talk to him. He showed me what hard work looks like. He encouraged me to write because he knew I enjoyed it and he cheered me on at every stage in my life.

I truly believe he knows all of these things and is with me still today. But my grief is still there. I say my grief because I think that everyone reacts differently to loss. There’s no right way to act or feel and some days are harder than others.

Jason Ritter talked about grief recently on Dax Shepard’s podcast Armchair Expert and it really resonated with me. He said: grief is such a specific thing for everyone and it’s a lifelong journey. It’s always there.You deal with it and you go through it and all of the sudden years later it’s like ‘oh no buddy, I’ve been here the whole time.’” He went on to Tweet about grief: “So cool how grief is just like ‘ok, that’s enough, I’ll leave you alone, I understand that sobbing forever isn’t a realistic life plan’ and then years later you see or read something and it’s like ‘PSYCH I never left, have fun bursting into tears for the rest of the day, hahaha.’”

This. This is what grief is like. There’s no preparing for it but having people in your life who are kind and understanding helps a lot.

Not a lot of people can put grief into words because it’s ever changing, but for now, these are the words I have.