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.

Mourning was really hard for me, and it took me a long time to get to a place that felt safe. I knew the feelings that I had towards the situation—the sadness, the anger, and the worst: the betrayal. I let these things boil within me, until I finally let it go. It was terrifying, and painful, but afterwards, I realized that I felt a little better. I felt a little lighter than I had previously.

I don’t like crying in front of other people. I feel like it makes me and them uncomfortable so I try to avoid it at all costs. My safe place was odd, but it worked for me. It was alone, quiet but just loud enough, and a place where I could let it all out without feeling guilty or like anyone would intrude. It was like a switch flipped inside of me when I finally allowed myself to feel what I had been running from for months.

I realized how much worse I felt trying to be strong, whatever that means. I changed my opinion of being strong, because at points, I felt like that was literally all anyone ever said to me, from facing things without emotion to allowing myself to feel the emotion. It takes a strong person to face something so painful, and be able to smile and get up and continue their day.

Part of my mourning involved pictures. I have a lot of pictures in my room, and it probably seems weird to those outside. There’s a lot of my family, but I found myself putting pictures up every few weeks when something new occurred. All of the pictures with my friends were from July on; none from before my dad died.

During the worst months, the pictures of happiness with my dad, family, and friends reminded me how loved I was. They reminded me of the happy I had before I lost my dad to suicide, and the happy I had felt after. I could still see the wrinkle in my nose when I give a genuine laugh and smile and the way my eyes get squinty. The pictures reassured me I could feel happy again, and would continue to feel that way once I made it through the sad moments.

“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.