November 18, 2019

Photo by Ellen MacLaren
My dad puts his arm around me as I stand in my bridesmaid’s dress at a wedding we attended.

Over the next few days, we planned the funeral and I wanted to give the eulogy. I’ve never seen a dead person, so when I first walked into the funeral home and saw him, I lost it. Although it took time to build myself back up, I eventually got comfortable with reality.

The place was beautiful. We had a slideshow going and many posters filled with pictures of him hung up for people to see. We also had a table of all his hats, because he would always wear a hat.  

When I gave the eulogy, I didn’t feel a thing. I was still very numb. A lot of people came up to me afterwards and told me how brave and strong I was, but the truth is I was just talking about my best friend. It wasn’t hard because it didn’t completely sink in that he was gone. I thought he was going to get up any second. I had to just stand there while random people I didn’t even know said their condolences. 

Even after the funeral I spent more days numb waiting for him. I would trick my mind into thinking that I was okay.

School wasn’t going great either. I got bullied for a while, but finally realized that I shouldn’t give care what they think. It still really hurt what people said because I had extremely low self esteem, and it just made me hate myself. I was extremely depressed and people just kept adding on and on because they didn’t even know half the things I was going through. 

Meanwhile, my home life was not good at all, so I had to take care of that. Since I was busy taking care of my home life, I never really got a chance to grieve. I developed PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), where I was reliving all my dad’s falls and panic moments through flashbacks. My aunts, uncles and mom all told me to go to therapy, but at the time I would hide all my feelings and not show any emotion, so I thought I didn’t need it. I thought I was doing fine.

Four months later I started therapy. I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety, and I still am today. Therapy really did help me. Before, I didn’t really believe in it because I thought it was really weird to talk about personal things with this random person, but once you create a connection, it really does make you feel less alone.

One thing that has always helped me through everything is all my friends and family. I love each and every one of them so much, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without them. My family is the best. They were there for me through all of it. My aunts and uncles have helped me out with everything I’ve ever needed. My dad loved them. They would do anything for my family, and I hope they know that I would do anything for them. It’s been a tough time for my mom as well. She’s been trying so hard to be there for me. I want to thank my mom and the rest of my family.

My friends also really helped me escape the pain and helped me try to be an actual teenager. They always make me laugh and smile. They are the type of friends who I can put all my trust in. I want to thank all of them, for all that they’ve done for me. 

Right now I’m starting to focus on myself and try to be a “regular” teen. 

I’m amazed that things do really get better. I wouldn’t say you get over a death, but I would say you get through it. As time goes on, things get easier, but you’ll always miss the person.

I think about my dad every single day. He was my best friend and I’ll never forget him. It’s sad to think that he won’t be able to walk me down the aisle or see my kids, but he’ll always be a part of me that will never get replaced.

The whole time I was going through this, I thought I was okay and I just kept telling myself that I was okay, but the truth is I really wasn’t okay. I was shoving my feelings down and trying my hardest not to show them. It really wasn’t healthy, but I thought I was being strong. I had the feeling that I had to be strong for everyone else. While I was pretending to be okay, I never felt more alone because nobody thought I was falling apart when I really was.

The reason I wanted to tell my story is because I want people to know that they’re not alone and that it does get better. For people who have trauma or have lost a family member or a parent, just know that it does get better. It’s terrible while you’re living through it, but you just have to stay strong and get through it. 

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