by Alex Kleczewski, survivor and LOSS volunteer
In a gift of vulnerability and community, Alex is sharing her grief and healing journey with us in a 30-day blog series as she responds to “The Mourner’s Book of Hope: 30 Days of Inspiration” by Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D.  Alex is an OSU student and LOSS volunteer. She lost her dad, Mark, to suicide in June 2017.

Looking into the future when you are constantly living in the past is a really difficult task.

For me, I found and still find it hard to imagine things I’ve thought of my entire life without my dad. I think about my college graduation, my wedding day, or if I have kids and how different all of those special days will now be. Life has done a 180 and it’s hard to change your dreams or views of the future, but the reality of the situation is that those days are going to be different. We can’t change that, but we can alter our thoughts of the future based upon where we are in life.

I’ve learned to alter my thoughts of the future, but always keep my dad in mind. I think about how on my wedding day he’ll be there in my tattoo or in the breeze and sun outside. I think about the ways he will always be present for the special days instead of focusing on his physical absence.

The stages of grief play an interesting role in the healing process. How we typically see the stages presented makes you believe that you will proceed cleanly from one stage to the next and the process will be well defined and you will know exactly where you are on your journey. If there is one thing that I wish people understood, it’s that the “stages” of grief aren’t stages at all, but more like a collection of emotions. I have felt all of them, and I bounce between them.

Some days, I’m still in denial. There are days something happens and my automatic reaction is to text or call my dad, and I have to remind myself I can’t do that anymore. Some days, I’m angry and everything makes my blood boil for no reason. Some days, I don’t feel like doing anything and don’t want to leave my room. Some days, I feel incredibly guilty and wonder how I didn’t see the signs. Some days, I cry. A lot.

Yet, some days, I’m happy. Some days, I am bubbly and enthusiastic. And every single day I look at the people who surround me, and I am grateful for what they provide for me whether it’s humor, support, comfort, love, happiness, or a mix of any of those. I’m thankful for the ability to feel the emotion and find the good in them. I’m thankful for the encouragement and people who believe in me because they’ve helped me believe in myself again, and that in itself radiates hope for my future.

“The Mourner’s Book of Hope: 30 Days of Inspiration” by Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D. is available on Amazon. When you log in to Amazon using Amazon Smile and choose Franklin County LOSS as your designated charity, a portion of the sale will be donated to LOSS’s programs for survivors.