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Navigating Grief: The Day My Dad Died

It was the hardest day I have had to endure to date.


It's been three weeks since my dad passed, and I am still struggling to come to terms with the reality that he's gone. He passed on Thursday, March 28th, during what was expected to be an ambulatory heart stent procedure. My mom and I were in the waiting room when she received a call from the cardiologist saying that the procedure went well and that she could go back to see him. My daughter called to check on her Papa soon after, and I reported the good news. Then I received a heart dropping call from my mom about twenty minutes or so later stating that something was happening with my dad. She was wailing, and I could hear the fear in her voice. A nurse came to get me, and the waiting period there on was dreadful, nerve wrecking, and traumatic. We were in one room and were told that it seemed my dad might have undergone a heart attack but was now stable; then we received another update, and then they decided to take us to a quiet family room. While walking to that room, I heard a code over the loudspeaker: Code blue to the Cardio Vascular Department, and as I looked down the hall, my mom had fallen to the floor while two nurses tried to aide her up. I instantly stopped, dropped my bag on the floor, placed my hands over my head, and walked in a circular motion while calling on the Lord. I was shivering something terrible. I somehow knew at that moment that it would take a miracle to save my dad. 


I joined my mom, the chaplain, and a CV triage nurse in the family quiet room. My mom was sobbing. I was shivering, confused, and numb. My daughter had already called me after her initial check-in and heard the emotion in my voice – thus, she was a worried wreck, too. While in this room, we prayed, called out to the Lord, listened to worship music, and prayed some more. I remember the CV nurse saying, "Don't y'all give up yet. Don't stop believing". She's the one who put on the worship music and was covering us in prayer, too. All the while, Jaiden kept calling for an update, but I couldn't pick up - I didn't know what to say. A few minutes later, I saw a doctor in blue scrubs and a white lab coat twisting the doorknob; I jumped up and walked out of the other door. I couldn't stomach being in there for the news. As I stood in the hallway, the chaplain slowly walked out the door toward me. I asked if my dad was gone, and he sadly nodded yes. I was numb, stuck, and in complete shock. All I could say repeatedly was, "I don't know what to do." When I joined my mom back in the room, she was repeating the same cry, "I don't know what to do."


The Saturday before he passed, we drove to Durham, NC, to celebrate one of my parent's friend's 65th birthday. Their friend had recently connected with my daughter, Jaiden, who is in college in Durham, and invited Jaiden to her birthday dinner – hence our surprise pop up. God does all things well because as soon as she heard, she brought Jaiden home, AND she stayed with us for a few days. She lost her husband to cancer 2 years ago, so she could comfort and love my mom from a place of sisterhood and experience. 

 

Being an only child is a heavy yet gratifying position. By the grace of God, I planned the funeral, coordinated with two funeral homes – one in NC and the one in NY, made our travel arrangements, took care of the program, and coordinated everything for the service and repass. I knew I had to make things easy for my mom as she endured such anguish and pain. His service was on April 6th, which would have been his 64th birthday. It was beautiful. 


It was the post service process that concerned me, and it still does. I knew I needed to be proactive in attending some form of grief counseling to allow myself to feel, heal, and grieve well. I started griefshare on April 10th, and it's been therapeutic and comforting thus far. This is an uncharted grief journey that I hate. The days have been eerily different. I feel broken. I feel lost. I feel like a limb is missing. In all of that, I know that I have to go through this to get to the other side/healing. And while my dad is never coming back, and I will always miss him, I'm confident that the pain won't always be like this.


I'm doing my best to lean on God. I know that He is near. While my prayer and devotional life seem weakened these days, I am grateful for a support system that intercedes on my and my family's behalf. 


So far, it's been a one hour at a time process.


Some scriptures that have comforted me this week: 


Psalms 23:4 NIV: "Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me."


Psalms 34:18 NIV: " The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit."


Psalms 68:5 NIV:" A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling."


Writing has been therapeutic for me. As I am led to journal through this process, my hope is that it will be helpful and healing for others as well.


With love,


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