Last night I was looking at photos from this past year and realized that it’s hard for me to remember what it was like before my dad got cancer. I know that life was full and beautiful, yet events that happened only two and a half months ago feel like they took place a lifetime ago. It was a different world for us.
I can’t imagine what life will be like in the future.
- What will I do without my daddy?
- What will I do with all the time I will have once I’m no longer helping with his care?
- What did I even used to do with my time? I don’t remember.
Some of you may not know this, but my dad is John W. James, the founder of The Grief Recovery Institute. He started the institute over 40 years ago as the result of being unable to find the resources he needed to assist him in dealing with the overwhelming grief he was experiencing from the death of his own infant son - my brother. I was two years old at the time.
Being raised by my dad didn’t shield me from heartache. But it meant that I always knew that sad and painful feelings are a normal and natural part of life. I never had to “act strong” when my heart was broken or pretend like I was okay when I wasn’t.
That doesn't mean I am emotionally open all the time. Like many people I have tried to avoid my feelings with food, shopping, gambling, spending hours on social media, binge watching TV and other distractions, but I know those things won’t heal my heart.
Because of my dad and experience with The Grief Recovery Method, I try to allow my sad feelings to be okay without intellectualizing them away with thoughts like, “After he dies he will no longer be in pain” as if that means I shouldn’t, or wouldn’t, still be devastated myself. I also try not to isolate even if I want to.
I’m heartbroken. My dad is my hero. Until I got married he was the first person I would call with good news or sad news. And now I get to help take care of him which is exhausting, heartbreaking, and difficult, as well as beautiful, tender, and an honor.
While it’s painful and I’m pissed off and confused about the unfairness of it all, I am also grateful.
- I’m grateful that our family knows that it’s okay to be emotionally honest. We’ve never been closer.
- I’m grateful that I get to kiss my dad and step mom every day and tell them I love them.
- I’m grateful that I get to tell my dad the things I want to say to him before he dies, knowing that more will come up after he’s gone.
- I’m grateful that The Grief Recovery Method has given me the tools to get complete with the unmet hopes, dreams and expectations I have about the relationship with my dad. Like the sadness I would feel if I have another child who won’t ever know his grandfather or all of the future life events my dad won’t be around for.
- I’m grateful to have such a solid and loving brother, Cole James, who consistently shows me what it means to be a good parent and person.
- I’m grateful that my mom has given my husband, son and I a place to stay so that we can be closer to my dad during this time.
- I’m grateful that my husband was willing and able to pause the plans we thought we had, so that we could be here for these moments.
I wouldn’t trade one second of this no matter how painful and exhausting it is. Because of The Grief Recovery Method I know it’s possible to feel grateful and crushed at the same time. I know that I am not broken because my heart is broken.
- My wish for you is that you know that grief is conflicting.
- I hope that you find and use The Grief Recovery Method, so that you can get complete with the relationships and pain in your life.
- I hope that you will use these tools for years to come when your heart needs help too.
When my friends ask how to get started with The Grief Recovery Method I tell them about the new 90-Day Heal Your Heart Challenge. It’s a beautiful way to get introduced to The Method and work on your own healing, so that you can have a better quality of life and be more available for the people that love you. Please leave a comment if you have any questions about getting started.
I love you all and thank you all for your love support ❤️
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Hello, first of all, I’m so sorry your dad is sick. I lost my dad when I was 15. Lung cancer:( In the past 7 yrs I’ve lost 5 siblings. It’s almost like grief has become a norm in my life. Grief is one of the most difficult things to face in life. There isn’t a day that go by, that I don’t think about my dad and all he has missed. My wedding, grandchildren and not to mention all the holidays without him. He loved Christmas. So do I. My sisters and I had our sister disagreements. But to no long have a sister to call and just say. Hey what’s up?! I’ve had my angry moments. My, How much more can I take? It’s made me look at life differently. There is no waiting to do stuff now. Tomorrow is never promised. We have to live life as if tomorrow may never come. Your blog was beautiful. I know it’s going to be hard to say goodbye. He will always be with you. My dad in the 40 yrs without him, has always been my white light. Your dad will be yours too. Sending prayers to you and your family.
Beautifully written. I understand your pain as I've lived it twice. May God continue to bless you and your family
Thanks for sharing your raw experience. To have a father like yours is a blessing. I wish you peace during this time.
I love you ❤️
Amazing tribute to a man and a life we all owe everything to by a daughter that has been unfailingly loving and loyal.
Thanks for sharing, Allison. My mother died in February and thankfully I had practiced Grief RecoverY Method for years prior. She was my hero. I was devastated!! And I gave myself permission to feel what I feel when I feel it without apology. I will be forever thankful to your dad for the gift of GRM.
Love and prayer for all of you now and in the days to come.
Prayers for all of you! I have been on this journey multiple times and each time it takes my breath away, breaks my heart, and leaves another hole in my heart. My solice now is I know where they are and that I will be with them sooner than later. Your words of encourgement and strength in times like this tells us what your Dad instilled in you. Faith,Family and Friends are the most important part of life.
A beautiful and thoughtful message!
Carrie Stewart Nolan
Alison, what a beautiful and heartfelt tribute to your Dad and the program he developed that has helped so many, including me.
It breaks my heart that JJ is going through this and I’m so grateful for all of you that you can all be together through this really hard time.
I was my Mother’s caregiver for the last 2 years of her life and experienced all that you expressed. I’m so grateful now that I got that chance, but it was so hard at the time, and I had to take some ME time to regroup and come back refreshed. Whether it be a few hours or a couple days, take that time for yourself, it does really help.
I love your whole family so much and send you all my love.
I can feel your pain. I have lost both of my parents. My Mom had Alzheimer's and my Dad had Dementia. I didnt have a close family. It's been very hard on me accepting the fact that I couldn't trust my own family Prayers and Hugs to you.
Im sorry about your dad, I too was raised by my father and he is facing the same horrible disease, Just learned 2 weeks ago and he already in icu. hopefully home soon. is this course offer thru txting one on one. i cant do face time. what is the fee and do you take ins? thank you
Marie Mitarotondo, M.A.
I learned today that your father died last week, Allison. Deep condolences to you, Cole, your stepmother, and your entire family.
I never met John, but watching his Oct. 2016 GRM Conference presentation helped to flesh out the legend he is among the GRM community. Certainly his legacy will live on in the people he touched, the people he trained, the people *they* have touched and trained, and on and on. May he rest in peace knowing he made healing and hope possible for the broken-hearted. God bless you all.
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