With Father's Day just around the corner, we invited Kim Capalbo to share her first-hand experience about losing her father and how Father's Day can be a painful reminder every year.
Dear Family and Friends,
I wanted to write an open letter to you and thank you for the thoughts, prayers, and kindness all those years ago. So many of you called, sent fruit baskets, and booked the next available flight. I have not forgotten when you hugged me and offered your condolences, expressing how sorry you were and that you would always be there for me.
But as you did, all I could do was replay these words in my head:
We were in the hospital when my mom struggled to speak these words through her uncontrollable tears. She didn’t know what else to say. I didn’t either.
When I was 10, I did not have the understanding to describe my pain, which I now know very well as grief. I also did not know how to express my gratitude or tell you what I needed during this time. I wish I had.
We often turn to the dictionary when we don’t understand what a word means. When I looked up “grief,” it is defined as “mental or emotional suffering or distress caused by loss or regret.” If the dictionary can’t accurately define this, then how could I at such a young age? How can any of us?
Grief stretches far beyond mental or emotional distress. It physically hurts. When you cry until you don’t have tears left, when your chest feels so tight that you can’t breathe, and all you can do is attempt to gasp for air. It is an incurable heartbreak. Despite how all-consuming it is, it is impossible to verbalize.
But no one talks about the period after the initial loss. That period of time after all of you left, after you stopped calling to check in on us, after you stopped coming to visit to keep us company. It is by far the most isolating, confusing, and debilitating time. Eventually, you no longer brought up my dad in conversation out of fear it would trigger my tears. And although so many of you told me time would heal this, time only left me with a deeper, darker scar.
The thing is, that period of time is ongoing. It does not end. It does not become easier. We can’t keep dancing around talking about it and hoping we find the right thing to say to one another. I don’t know how to bring him up without making you feel awkward. You don’t know how to ask how I’m doing without making me upset. When none of us can express our feelings with words, why don’t we show them more? Why don’t we help one another find ways to invite love and laughter back into our lives after a loss?
Because you promised to always be there, remember me on hard days like Father’s Day. You don’t need to struggle to find the words. None of us have them.
If you want to support someone who will be finding Father's Day difficult this year, a good place to start is reading our blog on how to support someone dreading Father's Day or checking out our loss care packages.