Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Feeling Guilty...again

Stop rolling your eyes--this post isn't going to be a rant about how I ate my feelings last night. Instead, I'm going to switch gears a little bit and talk about something that has been weighing on my mind for the last few years.

As I told you in this post, my dad passed away from lung cancer three years ago. The anniversary of his death is coming up in two weeks, and lately I've been thinking about how these last few years have been without him. I think about him all the time and miss him a lot, but I only occasionally cry about the fact that he is gone. In all honesty, I've coped with his death well.

For the past three years I have felt guilty about this. I felt that the more tears I shed, the more I would prove to myself how much my dad meant to me. I've even found myself feeling happy when I cry for him. See, I haven't forgotten about you, Dad. See how much I love you.

Before I got my current gig at The Knot, and was able to enjoy daytime TV, I saw a Dr. Phil show that made me feel a lot better about this burden I've been carrying. He was talking to a mother who lost her son in the war. She said she feels guilty every time she laughs or has a happy moment. Then Dr. Phil replied with something like, "Your tears don't signify your love for him. Just because you aren't crying, doesn't mean you are over the fact that he is gone. He would want you to be happy." OK, so what Dr. Phil said was a lot more profound, but you get the idea.

I can't say that his words made me feel 100% better, but they have helped a lot. And it's true, my dad would want me to be happy. I think one reason I have dealt with his death so well is the fact that my parents raised me with a "This is life, things happen," mentality. I'm not one to feel sorry for myself or act like I have it so much harder than everyone else. (Even though I do quite a bit of whining on this blog). I realize how blessed I am no matter what other hurdles may come my way down the road. And I like that I was raised this way. I know a lot of other people who totally freak out at the smallest things--it's not something I can really comprehend.

Anyway, I do feel a little better for sharing. If anyone else has something they'd like to get off their chest today, you know what to do.


  1. Hey Ellen-Sorry to hear about your Dad, I guess I have been gone for Lex for awhile, but sounds like you are in exactly the right place.

    A couple of years ago one of my best friends that was about years younger than me died tragically. It was a freak accident, she was pregnant at the time, and she was doing EVERYTHING right. I on the other hand was not. It was a horrible time for me in my life and her death was the final straw. It send me it the best possible direction, but the guilt was there for a looooong time. Everytime I saw her pic I thought about her not being her, I messed up, and it was not right for me to enjoy life or something-if that makes sense at all.

    Your emotions and reactions sound completely normal and that Dr Phil comment helps me a lot. Anniversary's are always hard, I am never quite right around Steph's. I know a parent is different, but everyone deals in there own way. Keep on writing-you always make me think.

    Sara Borg

  2. Unfortunately, I could write a book on this subject. My mother died from cancer about 2 1/2 yrs ago, and I am still dealing with the emotional fall out. I wouldn't say I am a big crier, although I did have an unfortunate situation in M's Canvas Shop in Lexington. I'm sure they're still talking about my meltdown - it was THAT bad.

    All in all, I have tried really hard to focus on the positives in my life - not on the things I've lost. (Some days I have better success with this than others.) One thing I do know for certain, my mother wanted me to be happy after her death - I have no doubt your father wanted the same. Sounds like you are doing just that, and I can't think of a better tribute to the ones we've lost!

  3. Sara, I'm so sorry about your friend. I guess the one positive thing that comes from losing someone is that it gives you a new way to look at life in general, and to appreciate it more. Thanks for sharing.

    Ohh Katie! Breakdowns (as crazy as they make you feel sometimes) can be very therapeutic. I'm not a big crier either, so when I do get it out, I usually feel better. I know it's hard though, and I admire your drive to stay positive.