I was well into a season of grief when I suddenly lost my father several years ago. It was sudden, unexpected and tragic. And without going into the details, because that’s not what this blog is about, it’s important to share how I made it through the darkest months and early years after my father’s passing.
Looking back now, it all feels like a blur. I was living on the other side of the country, 3500 miles away from my mother and sister. I was “momming” hard with my 3 kids who had various school battles going on. One of my kids was being cyber bullied, harassed and police were involved. And my husband was working in Alaska, north of the Arctic Circle.
I have never felt so alone in all my life.
Although I was surrounded by my 3 beautiful children, I was very much alone and isolated. I had no close female friends in my life who lived near me and I was spending my days sobbing and unable to do even simple things like basic self-care. To make things more difficult, people began stepping out of my life. When I needed people to interact with me, they were quiet, silent and distant. I lost several relationships during the year when I was hurting most. Because if friends and family can’t love you when you are at your lowest point, they aren’t meant to be in your life at all… a lesson I teach my kids every day about what unconditional love means… there are no conditions to receive that love.
I now know that I’m not alone. It’s common to feel this way as I hear from many friends who have walked similar roads on their journey with grief. Suddenly time becomes more important. Suddenly relationships are either genuine… or they aren’t. Suddenly a person’s focus boils down to what matters and what doesn’t. And that is when superficial relationships fall apart.
The hardest times in our lives show us who is meant to be with us and who is not.
The most difficult times I found, were those when my mind would wander. I filled my empty thoughts with moments of guilt for not living closer to my father. I struggled to find happiness in even little things. I struggled to get through the hurt. I struggled with loneliness. I felt as if I was the only person who had ever felt so much pain. That is when I turned to Pinterest.
I found no solace in Facebook during this season in my life. It was painful. I saw images of people spending time with their families. I saw newsfeeds of friends smiling and having fun. I saw posts about people who were not hurting… who were not sad… who were not lonely.
It was at those times that I would close my Facebook app on my phone and I would open the Pinterest app instead.
I started scrolling and searching for things that made me feel better. Recipes. Gardening. Jewelry. Pretty images. And then I started finding quotes. Or maybe they found me. Quotes about grief and pain and hurt. I found quotes about fathers and quotes about being a daughter. I created a Pinterest board and I titled it “I Miss You” and I started pinning things to the board that expressed my pain, my grief and what it meant to lose my father. Quotes about being a Daddy’s Girl, words from a song my father used to sing to me, and anything else that helped me work through my feelings.
Every evening, as I tried to wind down before I went to sleep, I forced myself to stay off the Facebook app, and I went to my happy place instead. Pinterest. I continued to create more boards as I found pins that inspired me. What brought me happy thoughts? If it made me smile, I created a board to find more of the same. After more than a year of pinning with purpose and working through my pain, I found I had created a large collection of pins and subsequent boards that brought me virtual happiness and were just one click away.
Here’s the thing about Pinterest. It’s more of a search engine than it is a social media site. You can use it to find just about anything! One of the songs I kept hearing after the loss of my father was a song he used to sing to me, “I love you, a bushel and a peck” and I typed those words into the search bar and found so many beautiful quotes and even jewelry to pin!
So here are 5 ideas for boards you can create to heal your grieving heart:
- I Miss You – Go ahead and make a board like I did. Share your pain. It’s okay. I’m giving you permission to grieve publicly. There’s no medal for holding it in. I created my board about 6 years ago and I just recently realized that out of almost 100 boards I’ve created, this one ranks 4th with people who follow me on Pinterest! Know what that tells me? That tells me other people need to express their pain, also. You never know who else will find your board (assuming you make it public). Your pins may help someone else, too!
- Quotes – You can incorporate this into an “I Miss You” board or make a separate one just for words that address your pain, your loss and your love for the person who has passed. Quotes helped me validate what I was feeling at some of my lowest points.
- Memories – You can search for images of memories you have. For example, my father loved music and always had it playing (much too loudly) in our home. He loved the Eagles, Billy Joel and John Denver. I could create a board that has album covers that bring those memories closer to my heart. Or I could search for the lyrics on Pinterest. Or I could search for pins about places I remember visiting with him… or foods that we liked to prepare and eat together… or movies that we loved to watch with each other.
- Favorites – You could create something that was special to your loved one. My father loved his NFL team, the Pittsburgh Steelers and it would be easy to create a board with his favorite players from the 1970s through the 1980s. My grandmother, on the other hand, loved flea markets and country music. I could create a board with her most-loved artists or images of old flea markets that reminds me of being a child and doing those things with her. Keeping a memory alive is so much easier when you are able to dig deeper into what your loved one felt passionate about and you can honor them with a simple Pinterest board to showcase some of those things.
- Create Your Own – If you have things that belonged to your loved one, you can take photos of them and create your own pin(s). I even made my own pins where I took my father’s most remembered quotes and I turned them into pins with his name on them. He had some amazing sayings and I felt his words should live on to honor his spirit and his life teachings he passed on to me.
If you are struggling with grief, there is a website that I found comforting during my most painful hours. It’s called What’s Your Grief and I followed their site on social media, as well. They offer articles that will meet you with whatever pain you are experiencing at the time. For me, their attention to parenting through a season of grief was what I needed most. How to be a parent and be hurting over the loss of a parent was one of the many topics that helped me keep showing up as best I could.
If you have worked through a season of grief… or if you’re knee deep in it now… I would love to hear from you. Leave a comment below and let me know if you find this helpful. I would love to know if you found this blog post helpful and if you have any thoughts about follow up blogs I could write to help others with their pain.
(P.S. Below are some resources for children that I used when I lost my father.)
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Grief Resources for Children
Here are some books that I found helpful with my own kids:
Help Me Say Goodbye: Activities for Helping Kids Cope When a Special Person Dies
The Healing Book: Facing the Death, and Celebrating the Life, of Someone You Love