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.

I can’t begin to express the importance of the lesson of celebrating life and not focusing on death.

We are all given a life to live and the best thing we can do is to continue to live our life for ourselves and our loved one. Death is a common fear in society today, and I think it’s because we spend so much time avoiding it. We spend so much time being afraid that we are going to die that we aren’t aware of every second we waste not living our lives. I used to spend so much time being afraid of what could happen and the unknowns about death, but I’ve found my fears have changed to what I could miss out on if I quit challenging life.

Suicide evokes so many emotions within me, but I think the overarching emotion I have is sadness. I feel the anger and betrayal and everything else in-between, but I feel sad that those who have gone too soon haven’t had the chance to celebrate their lives. Given the hand life dealt me, I want to use my life as an opportunity to celebrate those that we miss each and every day.  I have worked hard the last three months to get to a place where I am not only comfortable celebrating my life each day, but celebrating the life my dad lived, too.

I find myself getting defensive when people find out how he passed, especially those who had never met him. I can feel the judgment towards him as a person and it breaks my heart because I wish I could show them all of the good he did, and explain that I wouldn’t be the person I am today without his influence. He gave me strength, confidence, trust, love, and the ability to persevere. My dad picked me up every time that I was down and never allowed me to lose sight of what I was capable of. How he and my mom raised me and the support they provided is the reason that I continue to smile every single day, even if it’s through a few tears.

I celebrate my dad. I talk about him and the memories or what he loved or would joke about. I laugh when I see something that reminds me of him or smile when I miss him in a moment. I like to remember all of the happy that we shared instead of focusing on the happy we will miss out on. My dad was my best friend, and I am so thankful to have had a relationship that made it so hard to lose him.

I had a person I called when I was happy, sad, angry, scared, or bored. He would complain with me, even when I was being completely irrational, he would make fun of me when I needed to be brought back to reality, but most importantly, he would listen. He knew when things weren’t quite right for me, and he would have moved mountains to make sure that I was happy. I wish I had the opportunity to do the same for him, but now I will ensure that I pass on the love I always felt from him to those around me.

My goals and feelings toward life have changed drastically since my dad passed. I find myself relaxing a lot more and not planning as much. I take opportunities as they come instead of planning my life out to the tee. I am going to live my life in a way that I am proud of and put the minute items on the back-burner. I live life to make me happy instead of living it how I think I “should.” I celebrate my life by allowing myself to become a person who will hopefully impact lives at some point. I celebrate my life by living each day like it’s my last and taking the time to appreciate the little things that make life worth living.

“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.