I try to keep things on this blog light and just focus on style, beauty and the occasional fashion law update. For the past month however, I haven't been able to really put the passion and effort into this blog that I usually do. I have recently started feeling a shift and have been more motivated to blog and take outfit pictures. But, I wanted to take the chance to share what has been going on in my life and to hopefully help someone who is going through the same thing.

On June 11, 2016 my father passed away. I have been in such denial about it that I hate to even type out that sentence. My father was a very large if not the largest part of my life. My father and I were inseparable when I was a child and even as an adult, I would drive home nearly every weekend when I was in law school and even after I moved to Charlotte and then Raleigh for work. I had even discussed moving home to be closer to my dad and help him with his business since he was getting older and it was time for him to take more time for himself. I was the definition of a “daddy’s girl” and even as a 30-year-old woman, I thought my dad was invincible and would never die. Unfortunately, one thing that we all have in common as humans is that we, and those that we love, will die.  I always thought that when my dad died, his actual death would be the hardest part. In that last few weeks, I have had the crushing realization that grief is a very real, very overwhelming thing and that the day my dad died was just the beginning of a very painful journey.

Although I still have a ways to go, I thought I could share some things that I have realized about grief. I hope it will help someone who is grieving:

(1) Talk to Someone: I have been blessed with not only a great father but with great family and friends who have offered an ear any day or time I need to talk. Some days I want to cry and others I want to recall funny stories about my dad. My village has been an integral part of me starting to move on with my life. Also I will be taking advantage of complimentary grief counseling sessions offered by my company.  I hope my sessions will help me sort things out in my mind.

(2) Seek out a Supportive Environment: I only took a few days off after my dad died. I still worked for a couple reasons. First, my dad was the hardest working person I’ve ever known. I would go to work with my dad from the time I was a little kid up until he died. Working hard was something my dad instilled in me when I was young, it was something we had in common and something that we always talked about. I felt good working. Second, I work for an amazing company.  Every single person on my team and in my department reached out with condolences when my dad died. My company sent peace lilies to my door an hour after I requested bereavement. My coworkers offered to take on my projects if I needed help so that I wouldn’t have to focus on work. All of this support made me happy to work and relieved that my team understood that I was going through something monumental in my life. Knowing that I was a person and not a number made it easier to grieve my dad. I know how it feels to work for a company where a death or family emergency is looked at as a road bump or an obstacle that keeps the company from making money or hitting metrics. You may not be able to change your work environment but find groups where you feel supported. 

(3) Find a Way to Honor Your Loved One:  Grieving is difficult because you are trying to remember someone and yet let them go at the same time. This proves to be a conflict I feel when trying to come to terms with my dad’s death.  I don’t want my grief to paralyze me but I want to be able to remember my dad and do things to honor him. One thing that touched me most at my dad’s funeral was one of the speakers. The speaker was a barista from Starbucks where my dad often visited in the mornings before he went to work. She spoke about my dad’s personality and how he was able to brighten her day, even on her worst days. That’s the man my dad was; he never met a stranger and he helped anyone he could. I try to honor my dad by doing the same. Any time I help a stranger I think about how proud my dad would be. You can also do little things to honor your loved one like plant a tree, purchase a piece of jewelry with a symbol that reflects your loved one, frame your favorite picture of them, etc.

(4) Focus on the Positive: In life, you can either be positive or negative. My dad was a very positive and prayerful person. When my dad died, it was so easy to be angry and feel cheated out of time with my dad. As I prayed for clarity, I realized that instead of being upset that my dad passed away, I should be thankful that I had an amazing dad for thirty years of my life. How blessed am I? There are people who will never know their dad, have bad relationships with their dad, but I was able to have a great relationship with mine. Whenever I feel down, I think about the great advice and friendship I was given.

(5) Understand That Grief Manifests Itself in Different Ways: the day after my dad’s funeral, I had debilitating migraines. They would start in the middle of the night and last until it was time for me to wake up in the morning. I didn’t understand why I was having these migraines everyday. Then, I realized my grief was manifesting itself physically. I was also feeling lethargic and drained of energy without strenuous activity. Curious about the cause of my migraines, I searched online for resources discussing the physical symptoms of grief. I could not believe all the stories from people who had been experiencing pain for years. The pain always started right after the death of a loved one. After my dad died, I stopped going to the gym but decided I knew I needed to start back to release stress and to have a healthy outlet. Once I started back I noticed the migraines slowly stop and my energy come back. I have also introduced meditation in my routine to help me focus and relieve stress throughout the day. 

Have you ever lost a loved one? What did you do to cope?