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 think the first task in grief is to distinguish and understand solitude versus isolation. Solitude is really important, and isolation is really scary. I’ve learned the difference between being alone and feeling alone. I isolated myself in the beginning, and then I blamed other people for “abandoning” me when I had in fact pushed them away.

I have always been someone who enjoyed time by myself, and I still continue to do that. However, I find that I can’t do mindless activities anymore. I feel like I always have to be engaged when I am alone in order to prevent my mind from wandering where I don’t want it to go. I’m sure somewhere along the line this will change, but for now, I mess around on my computer or write or paint or draw while I watch TV or listen to music. It engages and relaxes me to a point of comfort.

I still like to be by myself, especially on the angry days. I don’t want to hurt the people I care about for something they aren’t involved in. I’ve found ways of coping with the attitudes, like going on a run. I’ve trained myself to run about 10 miles when I run outside because this is the perfect amount of time for me to regroup, be unbothered, and be tired enough that my energy can’t be spent being angry anymore.

I think that’s an important lesson to learn and skill to take away. It’s important to recognize you aren’t angry at the girl on the bus or your coworker or sibling. You are angry at the situation, and that is an important piece of maintaining healthy relationships through the grief process. As my friend, it is important for you to recognize I am not angry at you, I am angry at life.

Allowing yourself to be alone is good. It seems impossible in the beginning because for days and weeks it feels like you’re always with people. I was so uncomfortable the first times I was left with just myself, but with time, it gets easier to think happy thoughts and celebrate life rather than focus on the death.

“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.