Saturday, February 5, 2011

Things That Helped

In the past year, a lot has happened to me.  All the small things seem insignificant compared to the loss of my beloved father.  As the year mark of his passing approaches, I wanted to document a few of my thoughts and feelings.  Going through the grief process is incredibly wild - exhausting, frustrating, uplifting, and blessed all rolled into one.  While my intention for this blog is to remain generally lighthearted, I think it is important to not only document these life changes, but also to help others going through the same thing.  No one grieves in the same way, but maybe something I've experienced can help you.

If you're wanting something less serious, skip this post.  As I write more entries about grief, you will be able to locate them at the top under "Non-Mommy Gets Serious."

The unexpected death of my father was really a culminating activity of my very own "annus horribilius."  If I told you everything that happened, you'd think I was lying.  So not only was I reeling from the death of my father, with whom I was very close, but I was also challenged both physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  Nothing can make grief, or life suckiness, go completely away.  However, a few things really helped me keep going, or lifted my spirits.  Here are some of my "must haves" for going through a rough time.

1.  Ann Taylor Loft

I don't know what came over me.  Truly.  One minute, I was a hesitant, cheap shopper.  The next moment I'm burying my dad and burning through my future children's inheritance one sparkly shirt at a time.  Truly.  OK, I didn't turn into a total spend-a-holic, but man oh man, did I ever replace like my entire wardrobe with clothing that really pushes my public educator budget.  But you know what?  It made me feel good, and gave me a little extra confidence.  I never spent more than I had, and dang, I looked good, too!

2.  Phil Wickham

I had never even heard of Phil Wickham before my dad died.  I was sitting in church and this most incredible song was performed.  My mother and I were together, and we both cried.  I immediately went and looked up this album and was it ever worth the money.  Seriously.  This is a Christian artist who has an entire album devoted to Heaven.  It is completely inspiring, gorgeous, and therapeutic.  This would be a great gift for someone that is grieving.

3.  Steven Curtis Chapman

While I'd never been a huge fan of his music, I was aware of Steven Curtis Chapman.  More specifically, I was very aware of his work assisting families in adoption.  I was also aware that a few years ago his daughter Maria was killed in a tragic accident in their driveway.  When an opportunity arose to see Steven Curtis Chapman in person, I went because I'm a celeb-a-holic.  I was completely amazed at the ministry that he and his wife have created to help people deal with grief.  It was awesome.  I also purchased his album.  While I'm not crazy about all of the songs, I have listened to "Spring is Coming" about a bajillion times, as well as "Beauty Will Rise" and "Yours."  Very helpful.

4.  Boxes of Trader Joe's goodies.

I'm a huge fan of Trader Joe's, but there is not one close to my house (HINT HINT, TRADER JOE'S!).  A very dear friend has taken some time to randomly mail me boxes of Trader Joe's goodness.  Somehow, these packages always come just when I am needing a lift, and the fun of pulling out boxes of weird (yet wonderful!) items that I can't get is more fun than Christmas.

5.  Lots of time in the sun and swimming.

As a former Albino (just kidding), I avoid the sun as much as possible.  I want to love the sun, but the sun won't love me back.  This means that I typically am extremely well covered when outdoors.  This summer, however, I spent a lot of time outside in the pool.  I'm very self-conscious, and don't want to blind anyone with my pasty whiteness, but I truly believe that being in the sun was VERY good for me.  Being in the pool and getting regular sunshine "healed" me faster than anything else could.  I truly believe that.  This summer, I plan to take out stock in the sunscreen industry.  Who knows, I could become a billionaire!

6.  Lots of time with a two year old

I am so fortunate that my job gives me summer breaks.  This summer, I was fortunate enough to spend a tremendous amount of time with my two year old nephew, Former Baby.  Being with a child is beyond therapeutic.  When I needed a hug or a cuddle, there was a little blonde guy to do it.  When I needed to laugh, the little blonde guy was there to crack me up.  His presence allowed me to slow down and just be.

8.  Just saying "NO!"

I am an extreme people pleaser.  I will typically do whatever anyone wants, so long as they are happy.  This isn't very healthy for me, but it's something I struggle with.  After my dad died, I felt much better about saying no to things.  It's good for others to step up to the plate at work, and it's good for my own personal needs as well.  Saying no helped me realize that not everything will crash down if I don't do it myself.

9.  Making a book on Blurb.

I knew that I wanted to make something special in honor of my father, so I decided to make a book about his life.  This began a very lengthy project involving scanning about a billion pictures and creating a book that took on a life of its own.  I knew that I wanted to make one for my mother and sister, and I wanted to do it well.  In the end, the book became quite large and costly, but it was worth every single penny.  Making that book, putting down family memories on paper, and celebrating the life of my wonderful father was awesome.  I can't put into words how much fun I had with this.  I was sad when it was done (and sad I'd made it so big that I couldn't afford to send copies to everyone he knew!).  

10.  Spending lots of time with family.

After my father's passing, all I wanted to do was be with my mother and sister.  In fact, I went back to my parents' house every weekend after he died for four months.  It was just a safe and comfortable place to be.  It was really hard to explain to people that I felt like I needed to "withdraw" in a sense and just be with my family, but it was (and still is, to some extent) what I needed to do.  It may not make sense, but that's what needed to happen.  The cool thing about being together is that we all fall apart at different times, and are there to clean up after one another.  His death has brought us all closer, and I know he'd be pleased.

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