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If you’ve been here since the beginning of CloudGoodVibes in 2020, then firstly, I want to say thank you for your continued support and avid reading that makes this blog successful for others to be able to enjoy and learn from as well.
Secondly, you know that this blog was initially created with the intention of being a beacon of light for others after experiencing immense tragedy with the loss of my parents and dealing with my own emotional struggles (that I continue to work on today).
After a few “happy-go-lucky” posts recently, I realized that while these posts are needed, I also need to get back to where it all began and give direction to where this blog will go in the future. I want to let you guys in on where I’m at now and the journey in-between to hopefully help one of you who may be struggling after the death of their parents or a loved one.
I want to consistently inspire you and empower you, not only provide you with commercial “fluff” or the more lighthearted posts (although they will still be making appearances lol).
Some of you may have come to this blog for home décor inspiration, travel tips, or adulting hacks. Some may have come to experience the raw and unimaginable truths; to feel like you’re not alone; and to see someone who has healed and has made a better life for themselves despite their circumstances.
Despite confronting death and loss.
This post is dedicated to all of you who have experienced the death of a parent and are trying to heal. Grief is a long journey, and I will be the first to tell you that it comes in waves. Some days are lighter while other days are so heavy you almost feel hopeless, regardless of all the healing you’ve done.
But it does hurt a little less and the sun does peak out every once-in-awhile to shine on you :).
WHERE I WAS: MY BACKSTORY
They say, “Grief happens in stages.” What they don’t tell you is that you can move in and out of these stages as effortlessly as time and they can happen all at once or never at all…
So, you better buckle up for a wild a** ride (**this is your trigger warning**).
The seven stages of grief are considered:
Side note: The original five stages grief as outlined by Elizabeth Kübler-Ross are in bold*.
I’ve experienced every stage, to be honest, and it was to be expected due to the manner of how my parents passed away.
If you didn’t know, my mom was my absolute best friend. She uplifted me always, believed that I was the smartest person in the room, supported every passion of mine, and was never short of positivity to throw my way. This woman cared for me and showed me love like no other and never judged me. Ever. If anything, she was down for my crazy shenanigans (lol). She had made her own mistakes and dealt with mistreatment from others, so she never made me feel small or like my mistakes were something to be regretted. You live and you learn…
Unfortunately and unexpectedly, my parents passed away due to domestic violence (sometimes it’s still hard to even say it when people ask). As my younger brother (who was 12 at the time) and I were still living at home, it was an immediate, hard reality we had to face: we were on our own, or at least that’s how it felt.
No one would ever understand how we were feeling to lose both of our parents like that. No one would ever be able to comfort us appropriately or enough… or be the comfort we really want. We had lost everything and had to start life over from scratch.
Without our biggest support system.
I was in shock and disbelief. I had just spoken to my mom and things weren’t great, but I was going to be back home from spending the holidays with Mike’s family. I was going to be with them the next day.
Until their deaths was confirmed, I thought for the longest that it was some cruel joke or that my mom would at least survive. She couldn’t be dead. They just couldn’t be dead. It was too final!
But they were and it hit me like a ton of bricks that just kept coming and kept building until I couldn’t breathe.
I was barely functioning, but I was immediately faced with several tasks:
- Find my dog (as the police had him in custody),
- Find somewhere for my brother to stay until our older brother could take him to Texas,
- Decide where to live (which we forced ourselves to move in to a place that I knew wouldn’t work…and didn’t),
- Hope to get a job offer soon,
- Coordinate 2 funerals (with some much-appreciated family assistance),
- Find a good lawyer and,
- Manage my parents’ estates and personal belongings.
Being 24 years old and still living at home, under my parents’ insurance and phone bill, and never having to fend for myself without at least my mom’s support…I instantly felt like I was having a breakdown. Like I was about to crumble from being emotionally and mentally overwhelmed.
I had just lost both of my parents and I felt lost, like a part of me had died with them. My body was on autopilot, and I just felt numb. The to-do list just kept piling up but I was pushing myself to put my feelings aside and just do it, get it done.
I was moving my stuff into storage and moving in with my boyfriend, cleaning out their house (a failed effort by the way #hoarders), meeting lawyers, signing papers, arranging funerals, starting a new job, going to therapy, AND paying for vet bills to keep my dog alive because he was diagnosed with cancer a few weeks after my parents died.
I felt completely crazy!
…I gave myself two weeks of tears then I picked myself up and started my new job…
So much change had happened, and I was successful at getting things done and handling everything “like a boss” but at the cost of my mental health. I was highly functioning but severely depressed. And angry. And guilty.
The guilt of surviving something this traumatic, or having “survivor’s guilt”, is a b***h.
It haunts you and makes you think that maybe you could’ve done something to change this outcome, or you should’ve been there…but there’s a reason I wasn’t. It may have been the hardest thing for me to accept… is that I was spared from witnessing the trauma or something worst… But why me?
Why not me, instead?
These questions ransack your brain until there’s nothing left. Don’t get stuck on the “what ifs” and do not beat yourself up!
Grieving does not mean you have to make yourself feel bad. A lot of things are out of our control, although us humans love to think we’re Gods on Earth… We can only control our own actions and how we handle situations, nothing else. We can’t control other people, how they choose to handle their emotions, or the choices they make that have a domino effect on other people’s lives.
All we can do is choose how they make us feel and how we can live a high quality of life despite what we’ve gone through. You don’t have to have survivor’s guilt, but you can choose to be a survivor.
WHERE I AM: THE JOURNEY
It’s all about perspective.
I’m at the point in my grief where I don’t feel any more of the guilt per se. The part that weighs the heaviest now is just the pressure of rebuilding my life and trying to find my place in this world that feels the truest to my purpose.
Who am I without them? Who am I meant to be?
No one tells you how lost you feel when the people who gave you life are no longer physically here. It’s almost like an out-of-body experience or a vivid dream where everything feels real but none of it really is. It’s some sort of alternate reality that takes a while to feel like your feet are back on the ground and you feel like you have your s**t together.
Grieving has been a self-discovery journey for me and it’s hard f***ing work!
Grieving takes a lot out of you whether it’s a cousin who dies or your parents, even if you didn’t have a close relationship with them.
As a matter of fact, my father and I were not close by any means; we barely spoke two words to each other and would just walk past each other while living in the same house. It was toxic and had come to that point of “not speaking” because I had felt disrespected and he didn’t understand it nor could he take accountability of a parent disrespecting their child (we all know how that goes…).
Although we weren’t close, I do grieve him. The death of a parent that you had little to no relationship with weighs on you because you sometimes think, “Why didn’t they love me?” or “Did they ever care?”
It affects you because you must come to terms with all your childhood traumas and face the relationship for what it was. Not what it could be. There’s no changing it now or telling them how you really feel or them telling you. There’s no fixing the mistakes. There’s no mending of the relationship or repairing broken bonds between father and daughter. Who knows if that would’ve been an option when they were alive?
The point is, there’s only healing and forgiveness within yourself that needs to happen now. For me, I now understand that he was not a perfect man and probably felt misunderstood himself. He definitely had his own childhood traumas and unresolved issues, so how could I expect a broken person to fulfill my needs as his daughter or to be the best version of himself that he needed to be for the rest of our family?
I couldn’t and I can’t…
And while I no longer have these expectations of broken people, including my father, I still wish my brothers and I didn’t have to mourn this way.
Grieving my father always brings me back to mourning the future my brothers and I could have had. A future with a normal childhood for my younger brother. A future where he could experience an amazing friendship with my mom like my older brother and I did. A future with my mom taking family leave to basically be an au pair for my future children, like she always wanted to. A future with both sets of grandparents. A future where this wouldn’t have to be a part of our family story. Where we wouldn’t have to relive the trauma of why our parents aren’t around…
I go through cycles of rage, sadness, forgiveness, and understanding. Mostly rage and sadness because what he did was cruel and selfish whether I forgive him or not. My anger is still there because I must continue with my life without either of my parents, especially my mom. I get upset that my brother’s innocence was stripped away, and he had to witness something no child should have to see.
It breaks my heart that we all must try to nurse our wounds and may never be completely healed from this trauma that my father left us with.
It’s hard to accept the past and to be able to move forward from it without the people who’ve traumatized you, but a lot of people never get to right their wrongs before they die and face their demons in the material world. It sucks but you have to face it for them. For you.
You have to be the driving force for your own healing, without them.
You have to find a place within yourself where you’re done. Where you’re absolutely done with hating this person, hating life, and have come to terms with the fact that they were who they were, and you are who you are at no fault to anyone. You choose to be better and accept that that person was not mentally or emotionally healthy and it had nothing to do with you.
You are not the same and your story will be different.
My grief required me to take an honest look at myself. It required me to work on myself in ways that I never had whether it was therapy, guided meditation, or reading personal development books (and actually taking notes); I took whatever I learned and applied it to areas in my life that I wanted to see change.
I don’t want to be so bogged down by my grief all the time or plagued by aspects of myself that remind me of my father. Everything that they both were made me into the beautiful, imperfect person that I am and it’s okay to accept that and to want to be happy.
Grief can make or break you. It can swallow you up or be the catalyst for you to finally evolve. You’re in control of your life and your parent or this trauma only has power over you if you let it.
Focus on working on yourself after your parent(s) passing and ask yourself, “Why do I have all of this anger?” or “Why am I triggered by this?” to be able to pull yourself from the trenches of any resentment or bitterness you may have.
To be able to be hopeful and happy again…
Personally, to unravel my own trauma and start my healing I went to trauma therapy (with a therapist who had experience with unique traumas), to which my therapist recommended journaling to release some of my emotions and get my thoughts out.
If you don’t want to share all of your thoughts with anyone, just write it in the journal. It can be freehand, an open letter to someone, drawings, anything. Just get your thoughts out and experience the emotion in a healthy way.
Here’s some good, quality journals to try out:
- Wreck This Journal (you literally “wreck” the journal and there’s a different stress relieving activity on every page).
- The 5 Minute Journal (popular daily gratitude journal with proven improved mental wellness)
- A Year of Zen (a weekly, guided journal to reflect and grow in all aspects of life)
- Wildlife Lined Medium Notebook (lined, vegan certified notebook made from 100% recyclable materials)
- Tree of Life Journal (a vegan leather journal that is lightly lined for your creative exploration)
If you don’t like physically going to a therapist or don’t have time or can’t afford one in your area, try out therapy apps like TalkSpaceor BetterHelp. They’re both affordable, online therapy apps to connect you with licensed therapists from anywhere at your own convenience. They also match you to a therapist based on your preferences or specific needs to be able to appropriately help you with the issues you’re dealing with. The only difference I would say is that BetterHelp is about $60-$90/week and they don’t accept insurance while TalkSpace, on the other hand, does accept a lot of major insurances.
If you don’t like the idea of therapists just yet, try reading self-improvement books! There’s something for everybody no matter what stage in your grief that you’re in.
Here’s some of the grief recovery, poetry, and self-help books that helped me see the light at the end of the tunnel:
- Whiskey, Words And a Shovel (poetry)
- Letters to the Person I Was (poetry)
- Healing Is a Gift (poetry)
- The Great Work of Your Life (how to work on finding your life’s purpose)
Take it one day at a time. Set small goals for yourself and find a rewarding hobby. Small goals can be going out for fresh air or walking a couple times of week, journaling, reading, etc.
Just do small things to bring more light into your life.
WHERE I’M GOING: LOOKING TO THE FUTURE
After quitting my job and working on myself (amongst other projects), I zoned in on the type of person I wanted to be. How could I change this tragedy from a “God Damn” to a “God’s Plan”? (shout out to Lil Wayne lol).
I decided to focus more on the good and whatever filled my cup and made me feel whole. Whether it was:
- Starting this blog (and teaching myself many social media and blogging techniques),
- Delving into Cannabis as a Medical Marijuana patient and learning how to grow it, bake it, (and potentially opening our own cannabis business!),
- Saying yes to a lot of new experiences or,
- Leaning into my leadership skills, self-love, and wellness to become an amazing businesswoman and light for others.
I realized and recognized that what I thought would “break me” helped to build me into who I am and who I will grow to be. My own strength, growth, and perseverance has inspired me and made me show up for myself every day and in every situation… Hopefully your own strength within your journey will inspire you!
My grief journey made me confident and more able to speak up for myself because no one else would. I don’t have my parents to lean on when I don’t believe in myself or feel intimidated (or when I don’t want to make my own doctor’s appointments).
What would they tell me in these situations?
What would your parents tell you?
“You’ve f***ing got this!” or “You better go do the damn thing!” (in my mom’s voice haha).
You have to be your own hype man and project positivity into your life. Pump yourself up and believe in your own greatness and that you won’t fail because you’re here for a reason. You’re meant to be everything you want to be and more, regardless of your circumstances and what you’ve been through.
My recommendation? Allow yourself to feel your emotions but don’t sit in your bad feelings and dwell on the “what ifs”. Make use of the time that YOU still have to make your dreams come true because you’re still here. You’ve got a life to live and one that they would want you to enjoy. Don’t waste it trying to fit in or doing things you don’t love when your attention is obviously meant to be elsewhere.
…I watched this video of Jim Carrey explaining how his father could’ve been a great comedian but took the “safe route” and decided to be an accountant, to which he was later laid off. Jim Carrey later says, “You can fail at what you don’t want so might as well take a chance at doing what you love.”
My parents died young in my eyes and didn’t accomplish or do a lot of the things they wanted to do or see the places they wanted to see…
Find a work-life balance and spend your time living in your purpose and living each moment intentionally. Focus on honing your talents or branching out and discovering new hobbies. Trying new experiences. Just do it. Intentionally making choices that move you forward to who and where you want to be.
So, stop doing things you hate and… whatever feels good, do more of it!
Try to focus on the good in your life everyday (or create the good) because tomorrow isn’t promised to anyone. Allow each moment to be beautiful for what it is and let yourself be happy!
I hope this post was able to help one of you but regardless, thanks for taking the time to read! How are you coping with loss?
This post has me balling! You are so amazing Denisha, such an inspiration!! Keep doing you and what you preach! Love love love
Deni Hercules says
Thank you so much!!
Love, love, looooove YOU!