I have struggled with grief and loss in so many different aspects of my life, one of which was the loss of my dad. Each loss affiliated with a traumatic life event significantly increased my feelings of helplessness, frustration, sadness, insecurity, and depression–ultimately rocking my faith to the core.
In 2018, the day after Thanksgiving, my dad had a stroke which caused a rupture in his brain. I remember being in the car on the way to do some Black Friday shopping when the phone call came in from my mom. He was headed into emergency brain surgery and the outcome was unknown. I turned the car around, dropped my mother-in-law and my two youngest daughters off at home, and headed to the Phoenix airport to catch a flight to California.
When I arrived, he was on life support and in a medically-induced coma. The next few weeks were a blur of waiting, hoping, praying, and ultimately making the decision to take my dad off life support because he never regained consciousness. I walked my mom and my sister through planning his funeral and I helped to make arrangements that I didn’t want to make. I even delivered his eulogy. Everyone kept telling me how strong I was.
I did not feel strong; I felt resentful, angry, and vulnerable.
These feelings lasted for over a year. When I could no longer carry the burden of being everyone else’s “rock”, putting on the mask of “I am fine” or saying “I got this”, the thought of taking my own life seemed like the only way out. This thought came out of nowhere and scared me to the point that I sought professional help.
This was the first step, asking for help, which had never been in my vocabulary before! A year-long journey of healing followed, which included intense therapy, trauma work, reliance on the community within my church, and taking a step back from ministry.
I began to find hope when I learned that unresolved trauma affects the body in ways I could never have imagined. I learned that the responses I was having were not my fault but were a result of the multiple traumas I had gone through in my life that had been left unresolved.
I am still a work in progress, but this journey, my story, is filled with laughter, deep and meaningful relationships, and purpose! It doesn’t mean there aren’t challenges, but my perspective has changed and now I reach out to those closest in my life when I am in need. Shame, guilt, and isolation rob us of our worth, value, and identity. Healing takes time and effort, but the rewards and freedom outweigh the defeat and loneliness. This sense of community and doing life WITH others is so very worth it! ~Kristin