It’s coming up on six months since my dad died. (If you’d like to be brought up to speed, the paper covered it better than I could at the time (with a creepy headline though) here.)

So far, my way of dealing with this is throwing myself into work, writing, going to the gym… basically everything but dealing with it. My mom, likely sensing this, sent me a book called "I Wasn’t Ready To Say Goodbye." I get a huge lump in my throat just looking at the front cover, which is a picture of a calm lake. When your loved one has drowned, these sort of pictures can really set you off. Especially when you are a certified lifeguard. And swam in college. And were on the Masters swim team until Novembter. (Clearly, I seem to have some issues with water.) Reading Chapter One is as close as I’ve come to doing something to deal with this. Though now I’m beginning to take step two…

I joined a support group at the local hospice last week. I thought hospices just dealt with people who were dying and their families but they also have programming for after the fact, too. I’m thinking of this is sort of "free counseling", time that I allot myself every week to think of my father and to have my feelings about his death evolve in some way.

I was really nervous about going initially. I mean, what are the manners for support groups? Going though was a real relief. The main point that was driven home is that our culture doesn’t deal well with death. We sweep it under the rug so we aren’t very supportive of people who are going through loss (most jobs, including mine, don’t seem to have bereavement leave for example). It’s really quite isolating, which is one way it helps to be with other people going through this. I get it! I was really dreading the first meeting the whole day before it but this week, I’m ready.

If you are going through anything like this, I urge you to seek out the resources in your area. They are often free and not only include support groups but counseling and general guidance that friends and family may not be in a position to help you with (though don’t worry Mom, I’ll eventually get through that book!). In Ellsworth it’s the Hospice of Hancock County. It’s important for your mental, physical, and financial health to be dealing with anything keeping you from happiness.

So now I can admit it. My name is Nicole, I lost my dad, and I’m in a support group. Anything you should be admitting to yourself?    

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