A question I’ve asked myself a lot since my dad died is: “What would Dad do?”
I've always trusted my dad's advice, so not being able to get his opinion on things after his death was weird for me. Instead of trying to find other people whose advice I trusted, I started trying to figure out what my dad would say to me if he were here.
With most things, it's pretty easy to guess what he would say. For example, when I went out for president of a club and didn’t get elected, I knew that my dad would’ve told me that he was proud of me and that I could still do great things.
I came up with that response from previous advice my dad had given me. For most things, even if I haven’t experienced it before, something like that happened before my dad’s death, and seeing his reaction to that allowed me to guess a reaction he'd have for something else. I used the advice my dad gave me when I did badly in sports (I was absolutely terrible) to think of what he would say when I didn’t get elected.
It's not too difficult for me to guess what my dad would say for most things. Even though I'll never know for sure what his reaction would be, I'm pretty certain that most of my guesses are at least partially correct, which is comforting to me.
There have been a few things, though, that I have no idea what my dad's advice would be. The biggest one? Grief.
I didn't really go through grief before my dad died. I didn't lose anyone close to me as a kid, and whenever I went through a breakup or lost a friendship, I didn't really talk to my dad about it. So, I have no clue what he would say to me.
I've tried making guesses about what his advice for me would be now. Maybe he would tell me to take a break from things and take care of myself. He might say that I'm stronger than I know and that I can get through this. Or, he might tell me that pain is what shapes us, and even though grief is absolutely horrible, it'll make me a better person.
Unlike the other advice I've guessed he would give me, these ideas about what he would say about my grief haven't brought me much comfort. As far as I know, all of the things that I've thought he would say could all be in my head and what he would tell me is nothing like what I've imagined.
The only thing that I’m almost completely sure that my dad would say is that he’s sorry. Sorry that I have to go through grief, especially because it's caused by his death.
I've let it bother me for a long time that I have no clue what my dad would say about grief. It's like that quote about how the person you want to talk to the most about grief is the person who died. Grief is one of the biggest things I wish I had advice on from my dad, and I’ll never know exactly what he would say.
Here's the honest truth: I'll never know what my dad would say. No amount of speculation can allow me to figure that out, and I'll never know.
My dad was good at giving me advice when he was alive. But he wasn't the only one I went to for advice. And those people are the ones that know me now, and can give me advice about grief and the other things I'm going through.
It's okay to try to figure out what your loved one would say to you. It's also okay to realize that other people can give good advice too. Whenever I need advice now, I sometimes try to figure out what my dad would say, but a lot of times I go to the people who know me now - my mom and my friends.
My dad wasn’t the only one I went to for advice before his death, so why should he be the only one now?
Read Next: Unexpected Triggers of Grief
Written by Natalie Adams, the creator of Teenage Grief Sucks. Photo by Jon Tyson.