Over on Instagram today, I posted about the two books I would recommend for dealing with grief. Both are a little nontraditional, but they offered comfort to me after losing my dad.

When I was 23 years old, I had just been laid off from my first job in the energy industry and dumped by my then boyfriend. Things were pretty sucky, to say the least. At the time, my dad had been feeling kind of sick...fluish, but nothing terrible.

In October my dad ran the Tulsa Run and had his worst time ever (though his friend joked that he still beat him).  He was achy and couldn't get over it, so he went to the doctor thinking it was routine. He had blood drawn. My mom got a phone call later that afternoon at work that they couldn't get in touch with my dad.

I was at an unemployment facility sending in resumes to countless jobs to look for work. (Life was really lovely - ha.)  I called my dad and he gave me the news in the way that he would. He never wanted to scare us or upset us...and being the queen of anxiety, I think he knew that any little thing would make me crazy so he said, "I have a little blood disease, but it's going to be fine."

In truth, I guess he did have a "blood disease" - he had Acute Myeloid Leukemia. He was 47 years old.

I remember driving in my car just bawling. Like a crazy person. And looking around at all of the people going to their destination thinking - yesterday I used to be like them.

My dad went into the hospital the Monday before Thanksgiving to begin treatments.  In retrospect, the not having a job thing was actually a blessing from God. (Ha - who would have guessed?) I was able to be with my dad every day.  He was in isolation at the hospital because they were completely obliterating his immune system with chemo to try to get the disease and to buy them time to look for a bone marrow donor.

The crazy thing is - there was only one other bone marrow match in the whole US on the bone marrow registry and it wasn't even a perfect one. Luckily, his brother was a match. (Check out Be the Match if you are interested in donating.)

My dad came home for Christmas and went back into the hospital for his bone marrow transplant in January. He was seriously in the hospital for like 2-3 months without leaving. Still unemployed, I was able to go and visit my dad daily, bring him work to do and he had me tape Food Network since DVRs weren't a thing in 2003.

I remember the anxiety every time the phone rang with the hospital's number. The daily blood tests with numbers.  Going to sleep at night hoping that things would be better or at least stable at the hospital.

In about April, my dad was out of the hospital and doing well. He was in remission, running again and had moved to bi-weekly blood draws instead of weekly.

Then in came back.  My uncle came back up to do more treatment and finally in mid-August, a week before he died,  they gave the worst news you could possibly ever imagine hearing - "there's no more that can be done."  I really couldn't live with that. Someone is alive. How can you not do more? This is "2003" there has be more that can be done. I looked up every clinical trial, miracle, and prayer that existed on the internet. I had to do something. I hate being told "no." And I wasn't going to stand for it.

The only "positive" at this time was that I did feel like I got to have a talk with my dad and say to him what I needed to say and he didn't have to suffer long. They told us on a Monday that he had maybe a month and he passed away about 7 days later (4:30 on Tuesday morning to be exact).

We were blessed with a really awesome day with him the Sunday before he died. He was feeling good, able to eat and I feel like God gave us that day as a final gift.  For which I will always remember and be grateful.

If you knew my dad, you really couldn't not like him. I called him with every question I had, piece of advice I needed, news I wanted to share.  His loss was huge. I really didn't know if I would ever be myself again.

And I don't think I am. In a lot of ways, I was "lucky" to learn the life lessons of -  your job is replaceable, time with your loved ones isn't.  No matter how much money you have in the world, it doesn't go with you. Your health and the health of your family is a gift.

After my dad passed away, I knew that the only "plus" side was that I would be able to empathize with people who had been through the same thing and could help them.  People didn't want to bring up my dad or would ask in that hushed voice "how are you doing??"  When you are going through grief, someone bringing that person up doesn't bring back a well of emotions. Those are already there.  You are living them. You haven't forgotten. You are just putting on your "normal" face.  I wanted people to remember how amazing my dad was and give me an anecdote that I didn't know or remember. I love getting those and still feel they are a gift.

If you are going through a hard time or know someone going through a hard time, you will get to a day where you wake up and can go through the whole day without being caught in a puddle of grief. You can also mildly enjoy the month that your loved one passed instead of dreading it like the plague and wishing you could just wake up and it the day would be over. Just me? No.

Hope this brings you some healing. XOXO.


  1. My dad lost his dad when he was 21, and now that he's 65 I still don't think he's over it. He keeps it to himself and rarely talks about him to me or my sister, but 2 comments have really stuck with me. From what I know about my grandpa, he was really stern - not unloving but just stern. My dad said what has been one of the hardest things is that he was just getting to know his father as a person instead of just his dad. He also told my husband once when we were dating that he knew his father would have loved me and my sister and we would have had him wrapped around our fingers, ha. His dad died at 62 and the year my dad turned 62 I couldn't imagine losing him and I had already had my dad for a good 12+ years more than he had his dad - so crazy. This week we learned my dad has prostate cancer, but it is thankfully contained to the organ so the survival rate is exceptionally high. I told him to do whatever he had to in order to get better because me and my sister and his 6 grandkids couldn't live without him. I hope I don't have to read the books you recommended anytime soon, but they do sound like great ones for dealing with the emotions that come with loss. Thanks for being so open about what you went through, and I will say an extra prayer for your family tonight!

  2. I can't imagine losing my parents that young (or even now). But of course you couldn't either. What a blessing to have been able to spend so much time with him during his fight. Thank you for sharing.


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