It's only been 4 days since my dad left me. I'm sharing my story on this forum because I've found it's a space for me to open up. Little context: my dad was 58 when he died of a sudden heart attack and I'm 20 years old. Pretty young, huh? I want to document this stage of my life to be able to remember it later, because it will help me grow. I'm going to be sharing with you some of the things that have been filling my head these days and also see what comes up from my subconscious. Denial Denial is inevitable. It's going to happen to everyone and to me it has happened constantly. The initial shock was waking up with my mother screaming and everything that happened until we knew it was all over. Throughout the funeral there were times were I got so distracted that when I came back to the reality of things it was shocking again. It's of course a pill very hard to swallow and no one can do it fast. For me it's still kicking in but with the holidays so close I know it's going to be hard. Running away When I got to the funeral chapel my first instinct was to run away. The whole process of grief is hard and if you don't take it little by little you're going to feel the same way. The hurting is deep inside and in my case I didn't actually ran away, but I just wanted everything to be over quickly. You're whole body is screaming for an escape and there's when people turn to drugs, alcohol, food, work, exercise, etc. I'm lucky to have learned earlier this year that I can't run from my feelings, but there's still a part inside of me that wants to run away badly. Every feeling is valid Again, that was a lesson I learned through therapy. I see myself getting sad and there's one voice who tells me "don't you dare cry" and another saying "crying is good". When I've gotten sad I've gotten sad, same when I've gotten frustrated, angry, disappointed or even joyful. Emotions are short-lived if you let yourself feel them. Mixed thoghts Just like mixed feelings, mixed thoughts occur often. I felt every day passed very quickly and at the same time it felt like forever. I wanted to be with people and alone and the same time. I wanted to leave and don't leave the funeral. I wanted pain to go away and wanted it to stay. I wanted to distract myself but had guilty thoughts at the same time. Medidation has helped me learn to not hang on to thoughts and just let them flow in my conscious mind. Mixed thoughts provoke mixed feelings and I'm starting to cycle between apathy, bad feelings and good feelings. Distraction I woke up Sunday morning and watched friends for 2 hours, then watched NFL games the rest of the day. At the funeral I had great conversations with friends in between having people hugging me and telling they were sorry for my loss. Talking and telling stories helped me handle better the condolences. You feel guilty for distracting yourself at first, but I think it's truly necessary to distract yourself from the mourning for a while. Some normality and routine may help you. Company The day everything went down I wasn't alone for even a second of the day. Waking up to my brother's empty apartment the next day (because he was already back in the chapel) was very hard. I poured myself some cereal and put on a German football game. Then I started crying like crazy. Every person will treat you in a different and that's good. I really appreaciated every person there. People that told me speeches, people who didn't know what to say, people who quickly started talking about something else, people to whom I talked about how it happened. Loneliness is very natural, and I've felt it a lot but I really am in need of having people around me. I didn't even care about the troubles I had with people, to me it was water under the bridge and I only wanted to feel love for him in there. Phonies That being said, I did know there were phonies there. I wasn't prepared but I knew in the moment how to identify people who were phonies. I think there's always phonies at funerals. I say this because I want to acknowledge it as a fact and even though this is not an advice post like the ones I usually post, I advice you to know who you want to be close with and don't care about people who you know are fakers or people with a lot of guilt and resentment. Remembering The first time I entered the house after going to the funeral was pretty harsh. I went into his closet and started crying. I tried to see everything he had in his nightstand and it felt very familiar. Someone said a random word and my brain made all the operation of relating it with a memory of him. Sometimes it's like a half hour of just remembering stuff just by seeing things like a toothbrush, a pen or a book. Laughter Half of my laughs (or even more) at the funeral were absolutely fake. Then some good food and jokes made me smile without any effort. My dad was one of those people who needed a good laugh every day and I always tried to make jokes so he laughed which would make me laugh. So that would remember me of our happy times and bring me peace for a while. Dark Side One of the purposes I had for writing this post was to share this part of grief. Like I said before, every feeling or reaction is valid. And of course there's a lot of pain, hate, frustration and fear. It's very hard to speak it out loud and it's also very hard to swallow it. It's all in between those two, and yesterday I was talking to a friend and I could finally tell someone how afraid and angry I was. Of course sadness is something you take more easily, but more "selfish" feelings are tougher to speak out loud. People tell you to talk to them if you need it, and I've come to realize how good it is to get all of those dark side feelings out of your chest. They build up inside of you and it's something you don't want to confront because it hurts badly. Fear My dad was my protector. He didn't want me, my brothers or my mother to suffer, because he had gone through a lot. And now I realize that I have to grow up, faster than I had to before. I'm afraid that once I get hurt by the world he won't be there to console me. People have told me that he'll always be here and I know he is a part of me, but it still feels awful that I can't get any more of his advice about life, work and family. At the end of the day, what keeps me going is that fear means growth and strength. The 5 stages myth I learned about the 5 stages when I was in high school and it's very common for people to think about that theory when grief is mentioned. What you can't know until you experience it, it's that it all happens within a little period of time. You experience denial, anger, depression, bargaining and acceptance in a matter of hours only to repeat the cycle and there's a lot other stages in between. Also, you can't identify each stage and that's ok. Also, everyone reacts differently so it's important to not judge yourself for any feeling you experience. Love One of the things my father taught through his life is that there's nothing more important than love. He found his happiness on the love he had for our family and he understood it was the most important thing. That doesn't mean he didn't get bad feelings or bad days, it just means that love is the force that prevailed above everything else. And all the people that where there for me these days have shown me how important are the people in your life and how enjoyable it is to be with them. Acceptance Acceptance may be the end goal, but it does happen earlier than anyone thinks and it really comes and goes. When you feel pain it sometimes seems like a bottomless pit, but grief isn't something you can come out of. It's something you learn to live with and I embrace the part of me that is him. I know it sounds a lot like I'm taking it all good and that I know all my theory to get on with life, but it does keep hurting and it is going to be like that for a while. It doesn't need to be perfect, it just needs to be life.