by Alex Kleczewski, survivor and LOSS volunteer

In a gift of vulnerability and community, for the next 30 days Alex will share her grief and healing journey with us 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.

Hope. Day 2: Keep Your Heart Open

I think the most difficult part about keeping my heart open was the pity and guilt I felt.

I felt like everyone was talking to me because they felt obligated to, not because they cared or wanted to. I found myself, unfortunately, closing off people I knew before my dad’s passing, yet opening my heart to new people. It was unfair and hard, but at the same time, I felt like my struggles were just burdening those that I cared about, no matter how much they told me the opposite.

When I made new friends, I found myself slipping into a new me. A life that was continuing on, but in a completely different direction. It took new friends telling me I wasn’t a burden to realize that the people I cared about wanted the best for me. It is easy to push people away and keep them at arm’s length, and it is much harder to let yourself feel the pain and open yourself up to vulnerability.

I have always been an anxious person, however, the anxiety that takes over after such a large loss is unimaginable. Even the concept of “suicide” was hard to let new people in on and I found myself closing off from those who knew about it, too.

It took a lot of tears, loneliness—and eventually strength—to let people back in, and I can say with all honesty I don’t think I would be where I am today if I didn’t let them back in.

Keeping my heart open and opening it up more than it was before my grief is terrifying, but it is one of the ways that my heart and life has begun to heal.

“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.