Saying Goodbye

I have had plenty of challenges in my life, especially during my sobriety, but I can honestly say that the loss of my grandfather has been my biggest and most trying emotional challenge yet.

As of July 2nd at 6:33pm, Grandpa passed away and my world went upside down. Everything happened so fast, that I couldn’t even wrap my head around it. But this entire experience has provided me with so many twists and turns – many of which were ironically wonderful and totally unexpected.

One of the biggest things I got out of losing my grandfather is an incredible amount of gratitude that I am sober and have been for the past four years. If I was still using, I would have never been able to share this time with my grandfather and family, or the many great times we all had prior to his death. I am so happy to have sober memories, and to have been able to make them with him.

There’s no doubt about it that I have been so emotionally messed up since I found out that we had only a little time left with my grandfather, and of course since his passing. I am proud of myself despite feeling this way though because I have been able to be present for both him and my family, be responsible, and most of all, be reliable. I am so happy that I have been able to be supportive for my family, and I know none of that would have been possible had I not been sober.

There are no words to describe how difficult sitting and watching my grandfather slowly lose his battle with cancer was for me. However, there were some great moments in those dark times that I won’t ever forget. For instance, he would nod off throughout the day, but wake up alert and cracking jokes. One time, he woke right up and looked over to see my and my siblings sitting next to him and said, “oh man, I thought you were a hot girl!” All we could do was laugh, and it was priceless for us at that time and keeps us smiling now.

As he started to go downhill, we took him back to his house so he could be comfortable. In a way, I didn’t want to see him in his last stages. I just wanted to remember him in is best days, but there was no way I would leave his side. When he finally passed, our entire family was there surrounding him. I instantly realized that there was no place else I’d rather be, as watching him go was so powerful because of all the love and support that was with him at that time.

A bunch of us were taking photos later that day of the beautiful sunset and we all had orbs in our photos. Every single picture had one, and we knew that it was Grandpa because they had never shown up in any of our pictures before. It was so comforting to know that just as we were there for him at his hardest time, he was still there with us.

Going forward, I know there will be challenges. I used to call him every Sunday and when this Sunday passed and I couldn’t call him, it was really hard on me. But it is our goal as a family to keep close and to remember him at his best, so we are going to have a weekly game night each Sunday and play the games he loved (Yahtzee, Rummy, and poker if we want to throw down some real cash)! We know that he will be watching down on us, and we hope he knows that we will keep his memory alive always.

Article Reviewed by Paul Alexander

Paul AlexanderPaul Alexander is the founder and CEO of Northbound Treatment. He received his Certified Addiction Treatment Specialist training at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, CA, and was awarded Outstanding Alumni Service Award in 2002. Paul holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminology, Law and Society, Summa Cum Laude, from University of California, Irvine, and a Juris Doctorate degree from Loyola Law School of Los Angeles. He believes wholeheartedly in transformational leadership, organizational health and effective, fully integrated substance use disorder treatment.

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