Two things are certain in life – taxes and death. Death of a family member, a friend, even a pet is something that all of us will likely go through and losing a parent is certainly a hard one to deal with. Angelina lost her father at the age of 24 and this is her story.
It was a regular, New England winter day. Angelina went to work, her mother went to work, and her father was home shoveling the snow…off the roof. 2015 was a rough year for snow, so it was difficult for one person to get the job done so he called a friend asking for help. When his friend showed up he found Mr. Dabrowski laying on the roof, lifeless after suffering a major heart attack. He was rushed to the hospital but unfortunately there was nothing more they could do.
Angelina’s relationship with her father wasn’t very typical. Her Dad always wanted her and her siblings to have a great education so they had minimal responsibilities around the house, they just had to focus on being good students and working hard.
“He was a good father but it certainly wasn’t a ‘daddy’s little girl’ type of relationship. It was strained, we had our differences. He was the only one from his family in the USA so he had his issues. It was getting better during the last few years when I went to grad school and lived at home – but working in the therapy field made me more sympathetic toward the situation and how he feels.”
Angelina was always much closer to her mother and naturally spent a lot of time with her siblings when they were young before her brother moved to Canada and her sister became a traveling physical therapist. Once her father passed, it was only her and her mother so they got even closer due to the circumstances. They had to figure a lot of things out just the two of them – things as simple as how to turn on the snow blower or mowing the lawn.
When asked how has Angelina coped with the death of her father she stated:
“Honestly, I haven’t. It has been four years and I think I’m only starting to deal with it now. Shortly after my dad passed, my best friend died too and she was my main support at the time. I was left trying to be a big support for my mother since neither of my siblings were around. I feel like I haven’t been able to talk to siblings about it much and there is some resentment there because they were able to leave and go to their life and I was left to pick up the pieces.”
Angelina explained that everyone copes with grief very differently, she admitted that her method was unhealthily through food and drink – only as of recently, she has felt more comfortable talking about her thoughts and feelings with friends, family and counseling.
Due to her father’s passing as well as natural growth as a person, Angelina thinks she’s changed a bit for the better.
“You can have this great life plan but it can change at any moment. That’s why I’m big on traveling and doing things in the moment; being with friends and family knowing you can just get a call at any time and everything can change.”
She feels like she learned a lot about herself as a person and certainly a lot about being a “homeowner” having to fill her father’s shoes with jobs around the house alongside her mother.
Just like many of us, once we lose someone we wish we had time for just just a few last words before our loved ones go. Angelina’s message to her father would be:
“I want to let him know I loved and I appreciated everything that he did so I can be where I am today. I wish he could’ve taken his health more seriously so he could have been here for my brother’s wedding and in general be here for the growth of our family.”
Angelina’s biggest piece of advice for others that may dealing with loss is to take your time with your grief and handle it in the way that you feel is healthy for you.
“It’s not universal; everyone is different. If you really are struggling, then go to counseling — that’s something I regret not doing earlier on. But don’t feel like you have to hold onto it and not live your life. Enjoy life and what you’re doing with it because someone might be gone but they’re not gone from your memory. Something I keep in mind is an Irish proverb: ‘death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal.’”
Dealing with loss is never easy and its different for everyone, there is no one appropriate way to deal with the death of another. So if you do know someone who is going through a rough time please be respectful and considerate. For those that are dealing with a loss, stay strong.
Angelina Dabrowski, 28