Happy Monday, friends!! Is it just me or was this weekend’s time change particularly brutal?? I mean, I didn’t even make it to the library today! Maybe I’m also a bit drained from yesterday being the 16th anniversary of my father’s death. While it was a naturally emotional day, we got through it better than we have in the past, so that’s something to be thankful for, isn’t it? My mom and I will each be writing separate posts about it this week, but for today’s motivational quotes, I’d like to chat about the importance of keeping memories alive. I’m always so scared that I’ll forget my father, especially all the little things I loved about him, but having those moments to cling to has been such a comfort over the years. They’re a way to keep him with me, to remember the good times and to remind myself that the future is still full of good memories to be made. To that end, here are five memory-themed quotes to keep those memories flowing…
Part of me is raising my hand in solidarity and shouting “YES, AWARENESS!” because, honestly, awareness is such an important and valuable thing. Yet on the other hand, my cynical side is just sitting here saying “Well, I’m aware of my grief every day, so…”
When I say that I’m aware of my grief every day, I’m not saying that I’m grief-stricken to the point of being unable to get out of bed or crying all the time. And I’m not saying that I’m unhappy or that I’m unable to enjoy life.
Nope, I’m not saying any of that. At all.
What I am saying is that a piece of my grief and a piece of my loss is always with me. It’s not overpowering and overwhelming all the time, but it’s always there. Like a paper cut. There are times that you feel it more acutely than others — you know, like when you get salt in said paper cut and it stings like no other? Yes, that sort of acute.
That’s something I never truly understood about grief until I lost my father — how two diametrically opposing emotions like happiness and grief can — and do — exist simultaneously. But they do, and this is something I’ve talked about in therapy in recent years. It doesn’t have to be one or the other and you aren’t forced to choose one over the other, either.
And, honestly, I sort of appreciate that ever-present grief too. Because I feel like it keeps me tied to my father just as much as my happy childhood memories do. It’s an interesting dichotomy, for sure, and one I’m sure I’ll continue to explore in the future.
Here is a really great article on how grief never really goes away and it’s so important to recognize this in other people’s grief and be empathetic and compassionate in where they are in their journey. It might not be where you are and that’s OK. No two people walk the same grief path and it’s a very individual journey. Be a love and light for them on their journey, just as you’d expect the same from them while on your journey. And, here are some tips on grief that people on Twitter had to share — such amazing and helpful advice!
If you’re grieving, friends, I hope you know that I see you and I love you. What do you wish people understood about grief? What ways do you think people can help those who are grieving?? Here’s to getting through National Grief Awareness Day together… xoxo
[Photos via We Heart It]
I’ve written a lot about family over the years, but my newest essay is definitely one of my favorites! It’s my first for The Week and it’s all about the family road trips that marked my childhood in such a powerful and profound way! I originally wrote it back in March and I’d been trying to place it for the last couple months. Summer was coming to an end! I was worried I’d have to save it for next year and then…BAM!!
Summer is a season that evokes such incredible sense memories, you know? When I was writing this, even all the way back in the cold days of March, I could just feel summer with every word I typed. That summer vibe, complete with its warm sun and fresh-cut grass smell, just filled my soul with childhood nostalgia. It actually made me yearn for a bygone era and those classic days of yore.
In fact, after I wrote the intro paragraph, I remember thinking, “Wow, I’ve certainly seen America, haven’t I…” I say this to my mom a lot, but I am so grateful to my parents for the childhood they gave me — a childhood full of life and adventures. That’s a gift that I will carry with me forever! Those family road trips were so magical!
Here’s an excerpt of the piece, in which I namedrop my love for a certain late ’90s teen pop queen whose music I still bop to all the time — music that, to this day, still reminds me of those family road trips…
It was quintessential America — a snapshot of the United States. Wrapped up in these vacations was the perfect history lesson. My parents saw it as a way to bring history to life for my sister and me. But these trips are also our family’s history. It’s the story of our journey and our past and the story of our family.
It’s those summer memories that bring me comfort as I continue to mourn the loss of my father, 15 years after his death. It’s those memories I’m keeping alive. Those days of sitting in the backseat, pillow over my lap, just watching the world go by through the car window. In the sticky Southern heat of summer, the kind of heat that sticks to your back and sends beads of sweat rolling across your forehead, we were making our own history and planting the historical markers of our lives.
You can read the full piece here and I’d love to hear your thoughts. Feel free to email me anytime at email@example.com and let’s chat! And of course, feel free to share my essay on Facebook, Twitter or even your local refrigerator. If you share on Twitter, be sure to tag me @melissablake so we can connect! I can’t wait to hear from you! Love you all… xoxo
Here we are again, friends. Another year has gone by, which means that it’s time for another birthday. This time, it’s my father’s 67th birthday. It’s still hard to believe he’s gone, but I’m thankful for all the memories that make me smile. Those memories are reminders that he’s still with me, especially when I think about the journey I’ve been on since losing a parent…
I struggled so long with “why?” Why did this happen? Why didn’t I see any signs? Suicide leaves behind so much confusion and even now, 15 years later, I still struggle with that confusion. Also, the societal stigma attached to suicide makes it really hard for survivors to feel heard sometimes. But that’s never stopped me from writing and talking about my experience because I think it’s so important for others left behind to know that they’re not alone.
I know I say this so much, but I don’t think I would have gotten through the last 15 years without the love and support of my mom and sister. The three of us banded together in our darkest hours and I am so grateful for them. Also, writing has been such a therapeutic tool for me. It’s helped me heal and work through my grief. I feel like I can express myself fully and find the right words through writing so much better than if I try to say them out loud.
The death of a loved from suicide — any death, really — is something you never get over. You may work through your grief and get to a point where it no longer consumes your entire being, but you never fully get over that pain and loss. Grief isn’t linear. It’s a process, full of winding roads and paths that sometimes go backwards before they go forwards.
How I’ve dealt with my father’s death might not be how other people would do it, but it’s the way I’ve chosen to do it. And it’s been an incredibly transforming experience for me. I’m remembering him today and always. I like to think he’s tucked somewhere in my heart and that definitely brings me an incredible amount of comfort. Losing a parent is a confusing journey at times, but I know he’ll ALWAYS be with me… xoxo
[Bottom photo via We Heart It]
Would you believe that I actually forgot to share one of my published essays, friends?!? Well, I did — that’s certainly a first! But maybe it’s fate because my father’s birthday is tomorrow and this essay for Ravishly is all about one of my favorite traditions with him: Watching Dawson’s Creek together!!
Everyone remembers the sudsy teen soap from the ’90s, right? Oh, it was just great, don’t you think?? The adventures of Dawson and his friends was one of the hallmarks of my teen years and it’s also one of my hallmark memories…with my father! I sometimes think he actually liked the show more than I did. We’d watch it every week together and debate the finer points of the plot. Looking back now, I truly treasure those moments we shared together, just sitting in our small living room in each other’s company.
Here’s an excerpt of the essay, which gave me a HUGE dose of ’90s nostalgia as I was writing it…
It wasn’t until just a few years ago, shortly after his death, that everything began to make sense: Dawson’s Creek might not have been his favorite show, but the time we got to spend together for a solid 60 minutes? That was really what he was after. Sure, we’d have fun debates about whether Dawson or Pacey is our favorite (admittedly, I’ve waffled over the years, but always seem to come back to Dawson), but the older I get, the more I realize just how quickly time goes by. Life is hectic and messy. So many things are out of our control. My father knew this, so when he saw an opportunity to sprinkle some moments of happiness into the messiness, he grabbed onto that.
I never want his death to overshadow how he lived and all the things he taught me. We might not have talked much during those episodes of Dawson’s Creek (confession: I spent much of the hour swooning over Dawson), but we were together. For a whole hour, there was this unspoken bond between us.
You can read the full essay here and I’d love to hear your thoughts. Feel free to email me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s chat! And of course, feel free to share my essay on Facebook, Twitter or even your local refrigerator. If you share on Twitter, be sure to tag me @melissablake so we can connect! I can’t wait to hear from you! Love you all… xoxo