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 laughed when I read this one because I think I took it to the extreme.

My word, however, isn’t hope; instead I chose the phrase “keep going.” I actually got a tattoo of the phrase on my shoulder during some of the harder days. My tattoo says “keep going” but the “i” is replaced with a semi-colon, which is a huge symbol in the mental health community for the decision to continue on and not end.

I chose to get the tattoo during a really difficult time in my life to remind myself that every single day is my conscious decision. To live and enjoy life is my choice, and no matter how hard things may get for me, I will always choose to keep going. I had it tattooed on my shoulder because it represented the hard times being behind me, and not in front. The ugly may continue to exist; however, I continue to look forward and not back.

I took this one literally before I even knew about this book because it was a symbol for myself and although it is just a tattoo, it reminds me of why I continue to choose to keep going, even when days feel like a nightmare. Some days are harder than others and feel like I am simply going through the motions, but at least I am getting up and proving to myself that I can still do it.

The fact is, every day I choose to get out of bed and live my life to the fullest for myself, my mom, my brother, and most importantly, my dad. I surround myself with an amazing support system including my family, boyfriend, and close friends who know when to encourage the positivity on the hard days. I choose to see the bright and I choose to live with a smile because I know that was my dad’s favorite version of me and the best version of me.

“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.