July 29, 2020

Life Lately: On Grief

Life Lately: On Grief

Life Lately: On Grief

It’s been awhile since I posted on here. Some of you may know that on July 11th, my father passed away.

On June 11th, exactly one month prior to his passing, we found out he had stage 4 colon cancer that spread to his liver. To say that the last 6 + weeks  have been the most difficult of my entire life is a complete understatement. I’ve never had to deal with grief and for those of you who unfortunately have, know it’s the most debilitating, lonely (even when you’re not alone) feeling in the entire world. It feels like you’re a balloon and the air has been sucked out of you.

Before today, I didn’t have the strength to post on my blog. My father would check my blog regularly and as soon as a new post would go up, he’d message me. The fact that he’ll no longer be checking was just too painful for me. Even typing these words into a draft is a lot to deal with, but I’m slowly trying to deal with this huge loss.

They say that “grief is not linear.”

I’ve heard that dozens of times over the last few weeks, but man, is it true. The first week after he passed was brutal. I’ve never cried so much in my entire life. Now, I’m able to distract myself and feel moments of happiness, but then something will trigger the fact that he’s gone. The other day, I saw a box of Wilson tennis balls and I lost it. Tennis was a huge part of my father’s life – he played it every weekend, watched it on TV whenever it was on and every year, we’d have a father/daughter date and I’d take him to the US Open. Even growing up, I’d join my father on the tennis courts and he would take turns playing with me and with his buddies.

I don’t know how I’ll watch a match on TV and not feel such an overwhelming feeling of sadness. It hits me several times a day and I’m reminded “oh my goodness.. my father has died.”

It’s been really hard, especially after the already impossible year that we’ve had.

I’ve also been told that grief is like a wave. Some waves will hit you like a ton of bricks and knock the life out of you. It’s still so fresh, so that’s been happening a lot. However, as the days go on, I’ve been trying my best to focus on gratitude. I know it will get easier with time (so I’m told) and I’m eager for those days.

A few things that have helped me over the last few weeks:

My family & friends: I’ve never had to lean on them more. They are the biggest gift in all of this.

Talking about it: I’ve learned that everyone grieves differently. For me, talking about it has helped a lot. I know many don’t know how to handle a person who just lost someone. I’ve noticed that some people won’t bring it up because they’re not sure if they should. What I can say is that something as small as a “how have you been doing?” goes a long way.

Sweating: this has never been so important. It’s truly been like a form of medicine for me and when I’m feeling particularly down or stressed out, I say to Keith: “I have to get a workout in…”

Having things to look forward to: This has always been important to me, but now more than ever. The first two weeks, I didn’t have the physical or mental energy to make plans. I just wanted to allow myself to be sad.  Now, it’s been helping me deal with the loss.

Getting creative: I finally have the urge to pour myself into projects and this blog. Before this week, I wasn’t in the mood and I really didn’t want to force it.

Therapy:  Let me start off by saying that this afternoon, I have my first (virtual) therapy session. It’s obviously premature to say whether it’s helping, but making the appointment is a major step in the right direction. I’ve received so many kind and helpful messages from those who’ve experienced loss. For those who spoke to a therapist or grief counselor, expressed how much it helped in the healing process.

As time goes on, I plan to share the process.

I truly feel that grief needs to be spoken about more and in turn, I hope it helps someone else going through something similar.

For those of you who reached out to me, thank you. There are not enough words to express how your messages, experiences, kind words and stories have helped.

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27 comments

  • Diana

    Helena, I’ve been following you since the way beginning and of course knew this post would come. I have your blogged saved to my dashboard and check it daily as I knew of your loss and know you needed time to grieve. I pray for you daily, I can’t imagine how hard it is to even write those words. We all know you & your fathers love for Tennis and I hope that in time you will find the strength to smile when you see a tennis ball or watch a match. I’m sending so much love to you and your family <3

  • Casey

    I’m sure it was so hard to post, but I’m so glad you did. Sending you love and light.

  • KIM

    I’M SO SORRY TO HEAR ABOUT YOUR FATHER’S PASSING. I REMEMBER YOU WRITING A WHILE BACK ABOUT HOW HE WOULD CHECK YOUR BLOG AND I ALWAYS THOUGHT THAT WAS SO CUTE, AND CLEARLY HE WAS VERY PROUD OF YOU. YOU ARE RIGHT IN THAT GRIEF IS NOT LINEAR; UNFORTUNATELY THERE IS NO END, I LOST MY HUSBAND ALMOST 4 YEARS AGO, AND AT TIMES I FEEL PEACE THAT HE ISN’T HERE AND STRUGGLING AND OTHERS I’M LIKE YOU, FEELING LIKE A BALLOON WHERE THE HAIR WAS SUDDENLY LET OUT. EXERCISE AND THERAPY HAVE BECOME SO IMPORTANT TO ME, EVEN MORE THAN BEFORE. AND JUST LETTING THE FEELINGS COME AS THEY DO. WE DON’T TALK ABOUT GRIEF NEARLY ENOUGH, AND IT’S SOMETHING WE WILL ALL HAVE TO DEAL WITH AT SOME POINT IN OUR LIVES. I APPRECIATE YOUR VUNERABILITY IN SHARING WHAT THIS IS LIKE FOR YOU. SENDING YOU AND YOUR FAMILY LOTS OF LOVE.

  • Mila

    Helena, really sorry to hear of the passing away of your father. We all know the circle of life must continue but it is still very hard to accept the finality of death. Do cherish his memories.
    Sending you hug and love
    Mila

  • Lisa H

    I’m so sorry for your loss. When I was grieving a loss I found Sheryl Sandberg’s Option B to be helpful to read. One line I’ll always remember from the book is that “grief is a demanding companion.” I’ve found it to be very true. I hope you find comfort in your memories with your Dad during this difficult time.

  • AMELIA

    Dear Helena,
    I have been a follower off and on for several years now. I stumbled back on your blog as a much needed escape from the news, constant uncertainty and darkness. Thank you for being that source for me. I am praying for you and your family. I know we don’t know each other but please know that I’m asking how are you doing and sending love from Tennessee.

  • Emilia Dobrydney

    May you find peace and solace in his memories! All my love to you! Hang in there and I’m sure he is watching over you still proud of everything that you are doing ❤️❤️❤️

  • Leslie

    So sorry for your loss Helena. I hope that as you move forward in your grief and your life that your memories of your dad give you comfort.

  • Jana

    I’m so sorry!

    How is your mother doing?

  • CJ

    So sorry for your loss – praying for you and your family.

  • Anne

    I’m so sorry. I lost my father a few years ago in a similar way, we found out he had bile duct cancer and he passed away in about six weeks. It was really hard, really, really hard, and we had a much more tumultuous relationship than you had, so there were layers, it’s never easy, but you will grow with it. I think of grief like those mailboxes that trees grow around (have you seen these?) they just absorb the thing and it’s part of them but it doesn’t make the tree any less strong.

    • Kelly

      Anne, I had a similar relationship with my Dad, but also struggled with his passing. I’m so thankful I had the opportunity to care for him in his last weeks. I feel his presence often when I’m alone and it’s very comforting. Your tree and mailbox analogy was very beautiful and is a great description of how the passage of time makes a difference.

  • T.D.

    I am so sorry for your loss. I lost my mom to gastric cancer 3 yrs ago. It was incredibly difficult. The first year after she was gone was so hard and painful. I still think about everyday but you just somehow put one foot in front of the other and keep going and with time you find happiness again. <3

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  • Sel

    Dear Helena, sending you, Keith, Nate and Sasha my heartfelt sympathies on the loss of your Dad, Father-in-law and Granddad.
    I lost my dearly loved first cousin to cancer on Christmas Day 2007. She left behind a husband and two young sons, aged 12 and 10. Five weeks later her Dad (my uncle) passed away from cancer caused by working with asbestos for 40 years. Grief hit like an explosion. Helena, you will have good days and bad days. I am glad that you are speaking with someone about it. Grief is a process that takes time, don’t feel pressured into rushing through it or blocking it out. For a few years after my cousin passed, the lead up to Christmas was unbearable. I hated Christmas Day and everything about it, I didn’t want it to exist. I didn’t want it shoved in my face and I couldn’t escape its tentacles and commercialisation. I realised I needed to change the narrative. I was remembering her at her time of death rather than the beautiful and generous soul that she was. She was a school teacher who dearly loved children and volunteered her time assisting children that struggle with learning. So, every Christmas and in her honour my family do not buy gifts for ourselves/each other. We buy gifts for a charity that supports under-privileged children and children at the Royal Children’s Hospital Australia. I still miss her, but I remember her fondly for her and I see her in her two handsome sons. Sending you love xxx

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  • docdivatraveller

    Helena I have been following you since 2013 and have followed your sweet family along. My heart goes out to you. Lots of love and strength. Love from India.
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  • MH

    So very sorry for your loss. Thinking of you and praying for peace and strength to get through this.

    💛

  • Mariya Zafirova

    I’m so sorry! I truly am! My mom passed away 4 years ago on 4th June, one day before her birthday. I’m not even sure what I can say or write, but all I can say is that it helped me hugely to accept the fact that she is gone and she’d want me to be happy and make her proud, wherever she is.
    Sending you and your family a lot of love!

  • Michele Lee

    First, I am so sorry for your loss. There are no words that can ease your pain, but know that there are many of us thinking of you. I understand what you are experiencing as 25 years ago next month my dad passed away. He was young and I had just had a baby. We moved my parents back to NY and they lived with me for a few months until he passed. It was the beginning of a new normal. There are still so many days I reach for the phone to call him, but I know in my heart that I have kept him alive. I say this because my 4 kids, including my baby at the time and another I had two years later, talk about him. Life will go on, but it’s as I said a new normal. Keep talking about him and he will be with you always. My thoughts and prayers are with you. It’s a lousy club to be part of, but be happy that you loved someone, and were so loved by this person, that you’ll miss them so much.

  • Dee

    I am so sorry for your loss. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family at this time. As someone who has lost both parents, I know how difficult things can be at this time but just know that things will get better with time.

  • Amanda

    Oh, sweetie. I have been enjoying your site for a while now, and I am so sorry to learn of your loss. You are a wonderful person, and I am sending you and your family lots of love during this difficult time.

  • Grace James

    Hi Helena, I’ve been following you for a few years now and I so badly want to be there for you and virtually hug you. You have been in my thoughts and I truly hope each day brings you more comfort, peace of mind, and healing. Also, thank you for the reminder that all we have is each other. Know that this stranger in Brooklyn is here for you!

  • Kate

    I am so sorry to hear that you lost your father. I understand what you’re going through and want you to know it does get better, its just going to take time. You will always miss your Dad.

  • Maria

    Dear Helena, I am so sorry for your loss. I lost my father November last year and I’m still grieving. It definitely comes in waves… Yesterday was his birthday and I watched ‘A Monster Calls’ on Netflix. It made me cry because it reminded me of my father, who also had cancer. Stay strong, cherish the memories. Sending you love and light ✨

  • Courtney Walker

    love to you and your family helena. you are a wonderful daughter <3

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