Grief is a sneaky little bastard, Pardon my French, but it really is.
Just when you think you’re doing okay, it sneaks up on you to remind you it’s still there. Grief doesn’t care about when it shows up, and it certainly doesn’t care about being inconvenient. When grief reappears, the pain and sadness is as fresh as if the death happened yesterday. For example earlier this week I was minding my own business meeting with our florist and he said, “What type of flowers would you like for the Dads.” That’s right; he said it, Dads plural. For that split second my world stopped spinning and I felt sick. Funny how one little four letter word can really change the mood. My mood shifted from a happy, carefree blushing bride to heartbroken fatherless bride. I politely explained to Mr. Florist that my father is dead. Instantly changing the mood from cloud 9 to downright depressing. There is no good way to tell your wedding vendor that your Dad died a year ago. I simply smiled and said, “My Dad passed away last year.” Cue awkward silence. Then me filling that awkward silence with, “He had cancer; he was sick, really sick.” Then me thinking to myself WHY are you rambling, just say he passed away and shut up! Then me smiling and saying, “It’s okay, I’m FINE, really I’m fine, I’ll probably bring all my flowers to his grave.” Again with me babbling and saying too much. Luckily my fiancée saved that uncomfortable moment by changing the subject from dead dads and graves to something more appropriate for wedding planning, I’m really not sure what because at that point my mind had drifted as I pretended to play with my phone and browse Pinterest for creative flowers in a desperate attempt to not start crying at the florist.
That’s when I felt the hammer of grief come crashing down with its harsh reality—I won’t need to select a flower for my father’s tux because he won’t be attending my wedding, he’s gone, dead, passed away pick your preferred phrase he’s just not here!!! I will be a fatherless bride.
Later that evening it hit me hard like a hammer, delivering a swift blow of sadness and a steady stream of tears. I did what any grieving daughter who is a bride to be would do; I spent my evening surfing the internet looking at flowers for my father’s tux. Quietly, I stared at hundreds of pretty internet brides with their fathers. And then it happened, one tear led into the flood gates opening and then ugly sobs.
Grief touches lives beyond death. Grieving takes time. Loss and pain have no set format, no prerequisites. There is no list or magic pill to be “OK.” Grief ebbs and flows like an unpredictable tide. Grief is that unexpected, uninvited, annoying house guest that can’t take a hint.
You are minding your own business doing your thing, and then suddenly there’s a moment, a memory, or a milestone—and just like that—you realize how much you miss your loved one.
People die every day, and every day heartbroken people mourn them. Grief stricken people cry in the car, grocery store, or while planning a wedding. The sense of loss when a loved one dies is universal; it transcends language and culture and everything that separates us.
This August I will be a fatherless bride. When I walk down the aisle, I will shed tears, but I will also laugh and celebrate my father, the incredible man who taught me to be strong and courageous. My wedding day will represent a legacy full of love, laughter, and a rare strength forged through my pain.
My tears bring comfort, and a simple reminder of something I feel every day—I was raised by a great man who I love and will miss forever. As my father taught me so well—I’m strong and I’m going to okay…even if I cry on my wedding day.
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