10 Years of Grief
This is my biggest grief story (among many).
10 years ago I had just gotten into my office, at a job I’d only been at for 6 weeks. I was there no more than 15-30 minutes before I received a text message from my cousin…”Did you hear about Theo Harry?” My heart immediately dropped to my gut. Another ping from another cousin…”Are you OK?” The sinking feeling got worse and I didn’t want to imagine what was at the other end of those messages. I ran out the door and called the cousin who texted me first.
“What happened?” I yelled.
(Muffled crying) “You don’t know yet? I don’t want to be the one to tell you.”
Then I knew.
“Tell me what happened.”
“Theo Harry died.”
I don’t remember what words came out of my mouth but I remember going back into my office and collapsing in hysterics on the floor. I remember being ushered outside, having a coworker talk to me about her dad dying. I remember calling my mom and her telling me she didn’t want me to know until my then-partner got there to pick me up. The ENTIRE family knew before I did, which sucked, but in hindsight I get why.
The next few days were a blur of bourbon and bowls, sleeping at odd hours, not eating, crying, trying to figure out what the next move was supposed to be. I give the most credit to my sister who, somehow, after finding him, still managed to take care of everything as the executor. We buried him a week later, after his body had been driven from SoCal to NorCal so he could be next to his parents (who were still alive).
For 5 months, I couldn’t eat, barely slept, watched a lot of Dexter (which was oddly cathartic) and smoked a lot of weed. Work was a chore, and I did it because he had been so proud of me for getting that job. I lost 22 lbs, all the muscle I’d built over the years, and was unable to function...until I had to. I moved out of my partner’s place, and in with one of the best people I’ve ever met where was forced to take care of myself again. I had to cook, clean, move, and do things for myself again. I started slowly, with easy meals that felt healthy, and started going to the gym. I began hanging out with friends again, answered messages from months before that were waiting in the wings, and 10 months later, reconnected with my now-wife.
Since the darkest of days, I’ve done the most healing. In 2011, I enrolled in a mindfulness grief group that helped me work through so many of the feelings I didn’t know how to process (and made life-long friends in the process). I quit that first job, got a new one, and quit that one to start my own business. I went back to school to become a nutrition consultant, so I could help people get their power back instead of being in work places where mine had consistently been taken away. I have been so passionately vocal about the need to talk about grief that I became a grief recovery specialist. I got married. I got a dog. I fleshed out the bad and kept the good. I learned to communicate, to listen, and have self-compassion. I’m a constant work in progress that I think my dad would really like if he had been here to see the progression.
Would I give everything to be able to see him again one last time? Most definitely. I miss him every day. I regret that I didn’t pick up the phone when he called the night before he died because I was tired and had a long day. That is something that haunts me to this day. But I also know that I might not be the person I am today if he hadn’t died 10 years ago. In his absence, I’ve become stronger. I’m a better person. I’ve become my honest self. I’m not hiding anymore. And I’ve gotten back the power I lost so many years ago.
If you are struggling with grieving the loss of a human, pet, job, home, move, divorce, relationship, etc, please feel free to reach out to me. I know first hand what it feels like to not know your next move and can help guide you forward. Schedule a free 30-minute session here.