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.

It can be hard to put all of your faith into something that isn’t tangible. Hope can be there when you need it, but can also slip away easier. There are a few ways to make hope seem more real.

The best thing that I did was to find a physical symbol of hope in my life. As a 20-year-old, this wasn’t an easy task. I felt like other people looked to their kids or pets or something they loved and fed off of the happiness, love, and innocence. I was in Columbus all by myself, and I found it hard to acknowledge the hope that was a part of my daily life. I wallowed in my self-pity for way too long and let the negatives take over where positives were clearly still there.

I always used to run, and I found myself running more than I ever had in the past after my dad died. I found it to be therapeutic and a nice escape from facing the real world. It was like a lot of my life at the time, however, because I was just going through the motions. I would get home from a 10-mile run and not remember what the weather was like, or if I saw anyone on my run, or was annoyed about stopping for traffic. I found I was so checked out of the real world, and realized I needed a way to bring myself back.

I found a little place of hope on the river. The water isn’t clean, there is graffiti everywhere down there, but wild flowers bloom in the spring and summer. The water runs past and you can hear the trickle while the trees blow in the wind. I never might have noticed it before, and I probably never would have taken the time to go there.

It’s my place of hope and happiness. It’s quiet and beautiful in its own way with the promise of life and new beginnings all around. I turned hope into a place I can escape to. On the bad days when I can’t find hope within myself, I can find it there. I have a tangible place that represents the good, and that saved me from a lot of darker times.

“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.