It has almost been four years, and I learned a lot of things on my own. There have been hardships and a rollercoaster of emotions. But, you face life, and you learn to keep their memory alive and do things that will make them proud.
1. Grief and pain does NOT stop.
You think that eventually time will heal and you will no longer be sad. That is the absolute worst thing I thought about. I thought that if somehow I could make it through the first few months, the pain would be gone. I thought if I made it through all the stages of grief, I would no longer be grieving.
All your emotions and feelings will always be in your heart, and they will never fade. I can say that some days you come to terms with it, some days you're through the grieving process again. There is no rhyme or reason, but your heart will always feel sad when you think of them.
2. You will have one less person at all your important events.
When my dad died, I wasn't taking into consideration that he won't be there for my prom, graduation, moving away to college, my future wedding and the birth of my future children. Now that I had prom, graduated and moved away to college, it certainly breaks my heart.
You walk through life without one of the most important guys in your life... it's extremely hard. He wasn't there to see me get all dressed up like a princess for prom, walk across the stage to get my diploma and then see me drive 1,200 miles away from home for college.
As for my wedding, I am not ready to be an emotional mess when I can't have him walk me down the aisle, and he will never meet his grand babies he would've had. It's tough, but you learn to be tougher.
3. It's OK to admit you're not OK.
I faced a lot of silent battles because I wanted to be strong for everyone else. Life isn't easy when your dad passes away, and it's OK to be open and communicate your feelings with someone else. Nobody said losing your dad was ever going to be easy. Your world flipped, and you are now facing something you never wanted to face.
4. Nothing will ever be the same again.
You walked through life with him by your side (15 years for me), and you will always have that void in your heart that you know shouldn't be there. But, you learn to replace the void with memories you shared. Every holiday, birthday and "death date" will always leave you a little extra broken-hearted. Traditions will change, and family functions will always be different. You can hear other people telling you, "He is proud of who you became," but it hits differently.
You would certainly rather hear it coming from him instead.
5. You will have constant worries your next loved one is going to pass as well.
There are infinite amount of times throughout the day where I play scenarios in my head where there could be a chance that tomorrow I will be walking through life with one less loved one. You constantly worry that someone you couldn't imagine being next will come.
In reality, you lost one of the most important people in your life, so you never know what could come next. I can't picture a life without my mom or my brothers, and I don't want to live to see the day where they join my dad in heaven.
6. You have a completely different perspective on life.
Your outlook really does change, and you will constantly be making the best out of each moment. You learned that life can be over in a blink of an eye, so be grateful and cherish what and who you have presently in your life. I could not tell you how many times I told people to cherish what they have. Many people are lucky enough to walk with their parents by their sides through everything in life, but I just hope they never take it for granted because now I wish I made the most out of everything with my dad. I didn't expect to lose him when I was 15 years old.
7. It still feels like a dream.
I sometimes feel like my whole life has been a nightmare from the day he died until now. It's unfathomable to actually experience this. Your heart knows it's not right, and it should not be happening but it happened. Everything from the day you found out until saying good-bye still is not realistic. I still feel angry and bitter that a little girl should not have to lose her father. But, it is not a dream, and it is actually real life.
8. Bad memories will pop in and out of your head.
If I'm going through a little depressed phase, the constant memories of me going to the hospital to say goodbye will replay. It is not something I want to picture, but my mind always goes back to it. The surgery, the hospital visits, the funeral... just everything. You wish you could turn off your head when it goes like that, but unfortunately, you can't. I can still hear the words I said to him while he was brain dead in the hospital. I still remember my mom telling me what the doctors said... and being so frustrated with it.
9. The relationship with your siblings changed.
This one is actually a really crazy thing for me. As always, my siblings and I would constantly argue and fight with one another, but now, you all are going through the same exact thing. You all are young. You lean on them for support and guidance, and they do the same back. It's hard, but you learn how to walk through life together and be extremely grateful for one another.
10. God gave you strength.
As sucky as losing a parent is, your strength overpowers every emotion you have. You have been through the absolute worst in life, and now, your only option is to be strong and keep living day by day. It was never your ideal situation, but you conquer it and learn the values of it.
Life is not sunshines and roses at all. It can be rain and clouds. Don't expect to live a perfect life until the day you die because life has its way of throwing you curve balls when you least expect it. It's not easy, and it will never be. But keep being great and doing the absolute best things you can do.