Strength in Grief

By: Rusty Ramsey, Full Circle Board Member

Coping with grief and dealing with the loss of a parent is difficult, especially as a child. Elementary school aged children lack the foresight as to what lies ahead and instead focus on the moment. Time may heal all wounds, but as a child, time takes forever to pass, and the wisdom to process that proverb has not been attained.

I was 10 years old when my father unexpectedly died, and the emptiness that filled my soul was immense. My parents divorced when I was 6, and I spent every other weekend with him. Our time apart drew me closer to him, and I cherished the time we had. Even the most mundane activities were memorable moments with him. I remember watching wrestling or playing video games with him and not leaving the apartment all weekend.

I will never forget the moment I learned of my father’s death. I was awakened one morning by my mother, sat in a chair, and told my father was no longer alive. The emotions and confusion flooded my mind, and in that moment, I was dumbfounded. Why did this happen? Was there something that I could have done? Did he know how much I loved him?  Did he love me? Did he go to heaven? WHY? WHY? WHY?

Those feelings continued for a while. I honestly can’t remember how long.  My guess would be years. I tried counseling shortly after his passing, but I shut down. I was angry. I questioned how God could do this to me. I found myself diving into sports and video games, trying to focus on anything but those feelings and eventually they became repressed. I would have emotional outbursts at times and in the moment, I couldn’t quite understand but reflecting a bit later it was obvious it involved memories of my father.

It wasn’t until I was 18 that I really made peace with my father’s passing, and it was then when I learned the answer to that question, “why did this happen to me?” 

I was working at an after-school day care facility and one day a parent approached me, the mother introduced herself, and thanked me. I began the conversation honestly confused, “what did I do?”  The mother explained to me that her daughter’s father had recently died and that the elementary schooler was struggling to cope with it. Thinking nothing of it one day, I shared with the children that my father had passed away when I was their age. Apparently, my admission gave her daughter the strength to move forward, and her mother gave a purpose to my pain.

Since that conversation, I truly believe everything happens for a reason. Grief, pain, and failure may not make sense in the moment it occurs. However, it makes the individual stronger and that strength can be an inspiration to others. 

I’ve made it my mission to share my experiences with others in the hope’s it aides them on their journey through life. I joined Full Circle’s Board of Directors because I want to see individuals overcome grief and come out the other side stronger.

Looking at my situation from the lens of a parent now, I don’t want to see any child go through the pain I did attempting to process grief. Full Circle provides tools to children in need to get through this difficult situation and provides the counseling needed to move forward. It’s yet another reason I am so passionate to be part of Full Circle. I feel blessed to have two children of my own that I give all my love to but if something were to happen to me, I would want them to be supplied the tools to manage the grief process.