After my dad died and I encountered everyday roadblocks that he could've solved, I felt guilty that I had never asked for his help.
Ever since I was little, I've loved to write. As a kid, I started out writing little stories, came up with a group of characters, and spent hours throwing them into crazy situations and creating their stories. I was writing almost daily when a thought came to me: I should start a blog!
The next time I saw my dad, I persuaded him that a blog was the right move for me, and he set me up with a website editor. I was fascinated and instantly began working on my dream. Except... as the days passed by, my interest dwindled, and I ended up completely forgetting about it. But, my dad would still ask me weekly to help me with it, and I came up with excuses every time for why I couldn't that week. I also ignored him when he said he'd help finish setting it up for me when I was ready.
I never finished the website. Instead, when my dad died, I deleted the whole thing. I thought that my website dream had just been a phase and that I'd never think of it again. However, that was anything but the truth.
A few months later, I came up with an idea for a "blog" type website for grieving teenagers, where kids could share their stories and read about grief from the P.O.V. of other teens. I was determined and began to work immediately. As soon as I began, though, I stumbled upon questions and roadblocks, both of which my dad had resolved for me previously.
It hit me then: I wish I had you to help.
I felt that strongly as I tried to create TGS. I also felt it in almost every other aspect of my life. I encountered question upon question, each going unanswered because the person that could answer it best was gone
Along with being stuck while building my website, as each new question surfaced, I began to feel more and more guilty. I was guilty that I hadn't taken advantage of what I had, that I hadn't appreciated it more, and that I was realizing it too late.
I spent months upset at myself for every mistake I had made, like the blog. I would overthink every interaction I remembered with my dad. It was terrible.
More and more time passed, though, and I realized that overthinking was getting me nowhere. No matter how much I regretted things or wondered what I could've done differently, the past was unable to change, and it was ruining my future. Instead of digging myself deeper into a hole of regret, I made myself stop. Every time something came to mind and I began to overthink, I would distract myself or refuse to let myself think about it. It was hard at first, but as time went by my efforts began to show. I started to be able to think of memories without guilt and overthinking, and when I occasionally did I could control it.
You can't change the past. And, my dad wouldn't want me to feel guilty and overthink. Neither would your loved one. You can't change your past, but you can change the future. So, why ruin it with terrible thoughts?
Written by Natalie Adams, the creator of Teenage Grief Sucks. Photo by John Schnobrich.