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The Transition: Grief to Gratitude

Life hasn’t been the same since my father passed away 9/15/14 and although I’ve written about my father before, I’ve gained a new perspective over the past year.

Grief is defined by Merriam- Webster Dictionary as “deep and poignant distress caused by or as if by bereavement.” It’s not easy to articulate the depth of grief when one loses a parent, but I’m going to try my best. Grief isn’t temporary, and it doesn’t let you choose when it can visit. I’m the oldest of two girls, and my Daddy was my first love. I miss everything about him. He was the first man to ever love me, the man that showed by example what it means to be a provider, and the man that taught me what it means to sacrifice. I was at my father’s side when he passed away, along with my mother and sister. He fought until his last breath, and I know he did it for us. 

My father wasn’t a man of many words, and he showed his love for others with his actions. He loved cooking for others, and nothing gave him greater joy than someone complimenting him on his smoked chicken, fried turkeys, sweet potato pies, or hash. He was Uber before Uber existed, always taking me, my sister, or other family members to activities or appointments. 

I miss so many things about him. I miss getting on his nerves kissing him and putting lipstick on his face. I miss calling him “Hun”. I miss him being a father figure to close friends of mine and having everyone over at “Hun and Mrs. Ella’s house” for food, fellowship, and tons of laughs. I miss how no one I dated was ever good enough for him and how proud he was when I started traveling internationally for mission work. I miss him talking trash about my football team and calling them the “aints”(New Orleans Saints). I miss seeing him and my Mom wear their Carolina Panthers fan gear and him making fun of my sister for being a Cowboys fan. I miss going fishing with him and his love for bowling. miss laughing at how my Daddy and my sister would decide where they were having lunch before they ate breakfast. I miss him reading his devotional before he watched his tv shows. I miss him putting his fingers in his ears when I would drive him to the infusion center because he didn’t care for whatever reggae music I was playing at the moment. I miss his love for dogs and how he loved Izzy and Pete like children. 

I miss his laugh. I miss his love for dress clothes and cologne. There are countless things I can share that I miss about my father, but I want to share what I’m grateful for. 

Gratitude is defined by Merriam-Webster Dictionary as “the state of being grateful.” Although I miss my father, I realize how blessed I am to have had a real man as a father. I’m so grateful God chose him to be my father. I’m grateful because some don’t have fathers. I’m grateful because he made sure we never had to worry about anything. I’m grateful that he always pushed for me and my sister to be our authentic selves, and to be the best that we could be. I’m grateful that my parents ensured we could participate in whatever activities we wanted and made sure we had a foundation rooted in faith. I’m grateful that my father showed me what tenacity looks like. I’m grateful for him having a servant’s heart and making sure that everyone around him was taken care of at all times. I am grateful for the time God gave us. I am most grateful for the lessons learned. 

My father’s life and his journey with cancer taught me so many lessons, and I’ll share some of those lessons below.

When you feel you don’t have anything else to give, you have to dig deep inside and find it.

When you feel you can’t, somewhere inside there’s more strength, and it’s mandatory you find it because someone is depending on you. 

As I write this last lesson I want to share with you with tears in my eyes, I’ll share one last thing: DO NOT WASTE TIME. Love harder, work harder, right wrongs, eat well, take care of your mental health, and ENJOY life while you can. Life is so, so, so precious.

I’m grateful to have transitioned from grief to gratitude. 

Daddy, I hope I make you proud. 💜

Thank you for reading! 

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Jennifer Spears

Meet Jenn K., professional, entrepreneur, self- care advocate, Founder and CEO of The African Violet, LLC and self-proclaimed Servant Leader. A native of Spartanburg, SC, Jennifer is a proud alum of the University of South Carolina-Upstate, earning her Bachelor of Science degree in Physical Education, further developing her affinity to health, wellness, and self-care.

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