Jessica's Story "Chapter 2 - Dancing with the Limp"

"Thinking back on the sudden death of my dad when I was only 26-years-old, the game became simply 'trying to keep it together.'  I now realize I felt more isolated than ever before. I had always been a spiritual person my whole life and grew up in church, but during the entire thing,  I just remembered trying to pray and getting nothing. Feeling nothing. Don’t get me wrong- I know prayer isn’t all about me. But I just felt so alone. It was like nobody could understand and nobody could get to me. I just felt like I was surviving for a period of months on a day-to-day basis, just trying to get through it. I think you just have to forgive yourself for whatever you may have done to be okay. Obviously there are some exceptions. But if you need time and space, you don’t have to feel sorry for that. Regardless of how introverted or extroverted that you are, you just have to let yourself heal how you need, not what everyone else tells you. I felt this sense of responsibility being the oldest child. I felt like it was my job to personally thank everybody for coming (to the funeral), and to make sure that I helped out in any way that I could, when I was barely keeping it together myself. I just remembered not being able to sleep because I was thinking about all the things that I needed to do to get through the funeral and visitation, when what I needed the most was just to be away from people, even my mom and fiancé.

Jessica story chapter 2


Understand that people mean well, even though sometimes they say things that are really dumb. People don’t know what to say in a situation like that, I didn’t know what to say in a situation like that. Just realize that nobody can tell you how to grieve. We all go through it in different stages and in different orders. That was almost three plus years ago, but I don’t even know that I am done. It takes time, and it is going to feel like it takes forever, but you will get better. It never gets totally easy, but it gets easier. "It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly—that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp."

Jessica's Story "Chapter 1 - Dad"

“I don't know if you've ever seen anyone die, but it's eerie and undeniably spiritual. You know it immediately, but you still can't believe it. I fully felt nearly every human emotion within a span of about ten seconds--disbelief, rage, relief, fear, guilt, and crushingly powerful grief."

"The weirdest part is, after all that--I understood what I had seen, but I couldn't make it real. It's still not real.”

Jessica lost her father unexpectedly when she was 26 years old. “My dad had a stroke at my grandfather’s visitation in February of 2012, and he ended up in the hospital. He didn’t get to go to my grandfather’s funeral, but the doctors thought he was okay, and as far as we knew, he was alright. A few days before Thanksgiving that year, I got a phone call. My dad had collapsed in a restaurant and wasn’t responsive. When my mom, brother, and I had gotten to St. Louis, he still wasn’t responsive. The doctors had removed a blood clot from his brain stem that was so big it had to be manually removed. They didn’t know if he would wake up, or if he would even be the same person if he did. So we waited. I think that was one of the hardest things--the not knowing, the waiting, and having no control whatsoever over what was going to happen.

Jessica and her family spent several days waiting on her father to wake up. Finally, the neurosurgeons told Jessica and her family that he was not getting better and that they didn’t think that he was going to wake up.

“So they told us that we could leave him on life-support and just see, or that we could take him off of it. Can you imagine that moment? Hearing the doctor say those words? Those were the moments when a simple sentence spoke the volumes of an encyclopedia, and mere seconds lasted what felt like days."

Surrounded by family, we all came to the conclusion that in talking to my dad previously, that leaving him on life support was not what he would have wanted. He wasn’t living- his body was just being kept alive. So we elected to take him off life support and when we did he held on forever. He was breathing on his own, but he just kept slowly fading. There was this moment where I was sitting there wondering, is this not what we should have done? Could he have lived? Could he have come out of it if we had left him on life-support longer? That was the hardest thing. 

So how did I make it through this tragedy? As best I could, I held tight to my faith. Ultimately I trusted God even though I didn't understand why it happened. It keeps me going.

Chapter Two of Jessica's story coming soon.