My Experience With Grief: Losing My Dad

Hailey Cameron, Staff Writer

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Imagine, it’s 2 o’clock on a Friday morning. You are sound asleep and your brother comes into your room crying. You wake up to the screeching sound of his voice that you’ve never heard before. Your brother never cries. You turn over in your bed and you ask him what’s wrong. He looks at you with pain filling his eyes and says, “Dad is dead.” You are still half-asleep, not comprehending what he is saying… confused, tired, scared. Then you call your mom who went out that night to sing karaoke with her friends, and she confirms that he is gone. She is trying to rush home as soon as she can to be there for you and your brother. But all you can think of is the pain in her voice as you sit there staring into space shocked.

On September 28, 2018, that happened to me, and I lost my dad.

Everyone says grief has 5 different stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. From my experience, I can say I have felt this. It was a lot of emotions to go through so fast… it’s like a million things running through my head while still trying to maintain a life of being a big sister, a girlfriend, and a student. Everyone experiences grief differently, it may not go in this order for all,  and many people have their own point-of-views on it. But one thing to know: we all feel it after something tragic happens, it’s normal and it’ll pass soon.

Stage 1: Denial, this was a big one that hit me. You think to yourself “this is something that would never happen to me.” It was around 2 a.m. when I got the news and I didn’t want to believe one bit of it. I remember thinking to myself “He isn’t dead, you’re just dreaming, you were texting him 2 hours ago, how is he dead now? No he can’t be” I stayed up all of that night until it was time for school, and in my head, all I wanted was for the day to go as normal as possible. Denial, in my opinion, is one of the hardest stages. You want this whole nightmare to just end and you are waiting and waiting but it doesn’t end, instead it turns into anger.

Stage 2: Anger, this comes shortly after denial stops working. You get so mad and frustrated that things can’t go your way and can no longer deny what happened. You come to a partial realization that you really did lose someone. When my dad passed, it seemed like every little thing bothered me. I didn’t care who was getting hurt by what I was doing. When your mind goes through something like that, you start to think “what did I do to deserve to hurt like this?” You might find yourself comparing your life to other kids around you. For example: “That kid is so mean to his dad. I would do anything for my dad to still be with me” or “There are dads out there abusing their kids but my dad is the one that had to go.” When my dad left this earth, we were on extremely good terms; we were talking everyday. I fixed my bond with him and then he just got snatched from me at the best point in our lives. I was angry because that’s all I ever wanted with my dad. I finally got it, then he was gone just like that. This is one of the stages that I feel never fully goes away. But, you learn how to live with it… your heart will rage every time you think about it.

Stage 3: Bargaining, this is a tough one to talk about. Sometimes you just sit, thinking what could have been done to fix this. “Maybe if someone was there faster”, “maybe if he wasn’t so stressed out.” You sit there thinking to yourself crying out all these deals when no one is listening.  With religious bargaining, you might be promising to be a better person, be a better daughter, a better student if you could only have what you lost back. But what has been done cannot be undone, and when you start to realize this, you can fall hard into depression.

Stage 4: Depression, you’ve almost been through all of the stages; your mind has been stressing, worrying, and panicking. Then you feel tired, really tired. You feel like you want to crawl into bed, forget all about hygiene, forget that there is a whole outside world that exists. You just want to be alone. This stage may last very long. It is probably one of the most difficult stages to pull yourself out of.  You may try to get out of bed, then something very minor happens and drags you right back in. You won’t be able to handle things as well because at this stage, the mind is very weak and fragile. It’s important to know that this isn’t a sign of mental illness, it’s just something you are dealing with at the moment and most likely isn’t long term. You might lose interest in a lot of things that you enjoyed. I missed a lot of school and I didn’t want to do the things that made me happy, didn’t want to do anything, or be around anyone that made me laugh. I just wanted to sit there and be alone. This is just a stage in grief and it’ll be over eventually, even if you don’t feel like it is.

Stage 5, Acceptance, When someone accepts a loss, it does not mean they are over it. 90% of the time they will never be over it, they just learn to live with it. A lot of the time, people feel guilt when coming to this stage. They believe that it’s not fair to their loved ones that they are happy again and to forget about who they lost. But that’s not the case, you’ll never forget what you’ve lost. Acceptance is just coming to a realization that they are no longer physically here. You’ve accepted that this is the new permanent reality. Many people want to try to live as normally as possible after their loss, but it will never be the same. You just eventually learn to readjust and go on with life without that person even though it can be really hard, we begin to live again, but not until grief has made its visit and left.

To my dad, Michael Joseph Casey,

I know heaven is a beautiful place now because they have you. 😇