“Having a relationship with my father was difficult. He was bi-poloar and struggled with alcoholism for most of my life. We had good moments sprinkled throughout, but most of the good moments I can remember were from when I was young. It became harder to speak to my father as I got older, and as his condition worsened. The last year-and-a-half of his life was probably the most strained time in our relationship. It got to the point where it became harder and harder for me to have a conversation with him because I never knew what to expect when I spoke to him, and eventually, I had to tell him that I no longer wanted to have a relationship with him until he could get better. It was the most heartbreaking decision I’ve had to make, but I knew that it was something that I had to do for my own well-being.“
2) What’s your favorite memory (or a few) that really describe that father-daughter dynamic in your life & shows his character?
“My parents got divorced before I was two years old, so I only ever remember my dad as a single dad. When I was three years old, I started taking ballet lessons. My dad was the person who paid for and took me to most of my ballet classes from the age of three all the way to twelve years old.
He was also in charge of wrangling many ballet buns and waiting with all of the dance moms. It wasn’t something that he had to do, but he knew how much joy dance brought me, and so he did it multiple times every week for nine years.
3) What was the process leading up to losing him like? Was it sudden or expected?
“Losing my dad was not expected at all. I wasn’t speaking to him much, and for most of the year leading up to his death I didn’t know how to get in touch with him.
On October 5th, 2015 my mom and step-dad were visiting me in Nashville, TN and we got a phone call from my brother saying that my dad had been hospitalized for a possible stroke. It was mere hours later that we found out that he had definitely had a stroke, and that the bleeding on his brain couldn’t be stopped. He was put on life support and the next day I got in a car with my family and drove back to Florida, and he passed away three days later on October 8th, 2015.”
4) How has experiencing this loss changed your perspective on life? What lessons do you take away from this?“Considering that my relationship with my dad was always so difficult, I’ve struggled a lot with how to wade through the different emotions that come with losing a loved one, but also with reconciliation and forgiveness. I had always hoped that my dad would wake up and come around again, that he would begin to take the necessary actions for his mental illness, and that he would seek help and get through his addiction to alcohol. Unfortunately, he didn’t. Things were left as they were, and now I have to pick up the few pieces I have and try and put them back together and figure out how God can redeem even this tragedy.
My loss helped me see my dad in a different and better light.”
“Life when my dad passed away was a mix of a lot of different things at once. One afternoon I was sitting in the Tennessee hills with my family, and two days later I was walking down the halls of a hospital in Florida to see my dad for one last time, unresponsive and hooked up to tubes. Everything happened extremely fast because I live out of state, and one of my brothers is in the Navy. I was only home with my family for two weeks to arrange a funeral, clean out a storage unit of my dad’s things, and try to adjust to how quickly my life had just changed. Losing my dad hit me pretty hard almost immediately. The hardest part of all of it was the two weeks that I spent at home with my family right after it happened.
I felt like I had just aged from 25 years old to about 40 years old. I had to make a lot of hard decisions in a very short period of time that I didn’t expect that I’d have to make for many, many years down the road. “
“Losing my father is the single hardest thing I’ve ever been through. Since my relationship with my dad was so difficult, it has been hard for me to understand where God has been in the midst of my pain, but I know that He has been working things out behind the scenes. If anything, finding my own community of believers who have been through their own losses, and have allowed me to come to them with my brokenness has been one of the saving graces in getting through grieving the loss of my dad.
The thing that I’ve needed the most in this season of my life are people who allow me to come to them honestly with my pain, who tell me it’s okay to not be okay, that it takes time to forgive, and the fact that I feel like I’m on the verge of being able to forgive is an act of God in itself. I know that the Lord has walked with me through this hard journey, and it’s through the people He’s allowed me to cross paths with that have shared their own stories that I am able to see and feel His presence.”