You Don't Need to be Okay Right Now

If I pretended to be fine, wouldn't I be?

Toothbrush in front of sink.

My dad's death took a lot out of me, to say the least. While that's something I often talk about now, it's not something I was willing to admit back then.

In the weeks after my dad died, I tried to ignore the fact that I was not okay. Half of my life had been shattered in an instant, but I was determined to hide my feelings and pretend like everything was fine.

Pretending and ignoring my feelings actually worked for a little bit, though it did cause me many more problems later on.

I didn't know a lot about grief when my dad died, so I'm pretty sure I thought that if I ignored my feelings, they would just go away (which is NOT true). For things in the past, such as a bad grade or argument with a friend, ignoring that I wasn't okay hadn't caused any significant problems, and I always ended up being fine in a few days.

I figured out how not okay I was while I was getting ready for bed one day, a few weeks after my dad died. I was brushing my teeth, not facing the sink like usual, and turned to spit out my toothpaste in the sink. That's something I've done thousands of times, yet when I turned I completely missed the sink and got toothpaste on the counter.

Frozen, I stood there, staring at the sink and the toothpaste next to it. That had never happened before, and I was filled with a sinking feeling that something was really, really wrong.

I was not okay. And that is 100% okay.

While that is the moment I realized that I was not okay, it's not the moment I decided to help myself. I still ignored how I was feeling, and over the next few weeks I ran out of class crying, skipped practices, and didn't always try my hardest at school. Deep down, I knew that I wasn't alright, but I still wasn't ready to admit that.

On the outside, I seemed like any other high school kid. On the inside, I was spiraling, and helplessly watching everything around me fall apart.

It took awhile for me to realize that I was not okay, and that I couldn't just ignore that anymore. Instead of running from my feelings, I started writing what I felt. I began opening up more to the people around me, and stopped forcing myself to function at the same level that I was before my dad died.

I was not okay. And that is 100% okay.

Expecting yourself to function at your normal level after you lose a loved one is unrealistic. I tried to ignore my grief and act like I was fine, but doing that made it harder for me to deal with my grief later on. You will most likely not be at your best - or even close to that - after you lose someone, and that is okay and normal.

It's okay to not be okay, especially during grief. Instead of forcing yourself back into your usual routine, give yourself a little break. If you take the time to care for yourself now, your grief will be a lot easier to deal with later on.

Read Next: Regrets: Changing the Ending

Written by Natalie Adams, the creator of Teenage Grief Sucks. Photo by Joshua Hoehne.

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Disclaimer: The content on this site is not meant to be taken as medical information, as it is written by teenagers. If you are in need of medical help, seek assistance from a licensed therapist or, if it is urgent, contact emergency services in your area.