He was my Daddy… and I was his Baby… =)

As some of you may or may not know, 3 months ago today, on January 4th, I unexpectedly lost my Dad to complications of pneumonia.  It has been a roller coaster over the last few months to say the least.

A few weeks after his death I shared some thoughts that I was having about grief and gratitude on my Girls Gone Strong page.  The response was so overwhelming that I decided to share it on my personal page as well.

And again… an overwhelming response.

Such an overwhelming response in fact, that I have decided to post it again in hopes that it will continue to touch people’s lives and affect them positively.

Who knows… this piece may hit home with you today in a way that it did not when it was originally posted a couple of months ago.  Or, you may have been through something in the last few months that really allows this thought to resonate with you now.  Or you may have been in so much pain a couple of months ago that you were completely closed to the idea of ever being able to feel gratitude again.

No matter what your circumstance, I really hope that something positive comes out of you taking the time to read this post.   Whether it helps you or someone you love… please share it if you feel so compelled.  It has really helped me get through my darkest days over the last 3 months.  Thank you for reading.

Here is what I originally shared on January 25th, 2012:

Hey ladies! As many of you all know, Girls Gone Strong is not just about physical strength, it’s also about mental strength and strength of character. Something that you may not know, is that I lost my Dad unexpectedly 3 weeks ago today. The last 3 weeks have been the most devastating and hardest weeks of my entire life. Mornings are the hardest for me because I keep waking up thinking that I ‘ve been in a horrible nightmare and that everything is fine… it feels like I learn of his death for the first time all over again every morning. The point of this post is not to make everyone feel sorry for me…but rather I want to share a very powerful realization I have had over the last few weeks.

Over the last few weeks when I find myself really grieving, I make it a point to sit with that grief for a period of time, as I believe letting yourself grieve is vital to experience at least some healing (some say you are never fully healed but that’s a post for another day). Once I have sat with my grief for a period of time, I really begin thinking about, and trying to turn my grief into…gratitude. Yes, gratitude. In my opinion gratitude is one of the most important feelings or emotions one can express. When you are filled with gratitude, it’s nearly impossible to have negative feelings like entitlement, anger or jealousy be present. And honestly, I believe there is gratitude to be had in almost every situation from little everyday occurrences to life changing events. As silly of an example as it is: if someone cuts you off in traffic and ticks you off, you can be thankful that they gave you the opportunity to work on your driving skills (seriously… learning to react quickly while driving may save your life some day) and you can also be thankful for the opportunity to work on your patience and deep breathing.  I know it may sound ridiculous, but hopefully it makes sense.  Below I am going to share the gratitude I am finding within the tragedy I have recently experienced.

I am grieving because I lost one of the most amazing men this world has ever seen. I am grateful that I was blessed with such an amazing Dad.

I am grieving because the loss was sudden. I am grateful that he did not suffer.

I am grieving because I lost a parent, a friend, a trusted confidante, a sounding board, and a remarkable role model. I am grateful that we were so close and our relationship was so multi-dimensional.

I am grieving because I don’t have my Dad around for another 15-20 years like expected. I am grateful that I remember him young, vibrant, and full of life.

I am grieving because he is no longer with me in the physical sense. I am grateful that I carry his spirit within me now and that I can talk to him anytime day or night.

I am grieving because I only had 27 years with him. I am grateful because I was blessed with 27 amazing years with him.

As you can see, the “grateful piece” of each one of these thoughts/feelings does not discount or negate the “grieving piece”… it just gives me some perspective and allows me to be filled with immense gratitude from time to time during one of the darkest and hardest times in my life.

Please do me a favor and try to focus on being grateful every day and even trying to find the gratitude in negative situations. I truly believe it will have a positive impact on your attitude and therefore your well-being. Also, please take the time to call someone you love and let them know… you will be glad you did.

I hope you enjoyed this post.  I would love to hear any questions, comments, or stories you may want to share below.

50 Responses to Turning Grief Into Gratitude

  1. Kara says:

    this is beautiful. brought me to tears. you are such a strong woman and you yourself are a rold model for all of us young women. thank you.

  2. Auntie Di says:

    Aw … Molly. So sweet. I know how much you love your Dad, and how much he loves you as well. You are right to be grateful and I know he so wants you to feel that way. You have an angel watching over you. Love you!

    • molly says:

      Thanks Auntie Di! You have been so wonderful over the last 3 months… I feel like I have an Angel on Earth as well! =) Thank you again for all your help!

  3. Peri Brown says:

    Dear Molly,

    I was blessed to have had the opportunity to have your father on my internet radio station for an interview in the case surrounding Alex White Plume and was so impressed with what a strong yet sensitive man he was. It was quite an experience to have met and talked with him. He remains an impression on me to this day. Loved him, therefore love you, my dear! Peri

    • molly says:

      Peri,

      Thank you so much for the kind words! If you have any particular stories you would like to share about that day, PLEASE email them to me at MemoriesOfGatewood@gmail.com

      I am hoping to compile as many as possible! Thanks so much!

  4. Kara Pike says:

    I read this a couple of months ago. I just told my husband about it the other day. I was explaining the impact it had on me and how I’ve thought about it every day and how I’ve used it to turn stressful or negative situations into something positive. I feel like it changed my mindset. Thank you for sharing this again!

    • molly says:

      Wow Kara.. that is so powerful.. thank you so much. I am so pleased and humbled that this piece had such a positive effect on you. Thank you for sharing.

  5. I am so sorry to hear of your loss, Molly.

    ;-(

    Your father’s photo above reminds me so much of the late Rev. Roland H. Buck, probably the most honest and best preacher ever. His daughter wrote a follow-up book on him, after his first book garnered world-wide attention — Rev. Buck knew how to stand up under the most adverse conditions and be an inspiring role model –and, to the extent Gatewood reminds me of Buck, I hope this is of solace and comfort to you.

    Instead of my own website, in the click-able above, I replaced it with a link to my friend’s website on Buck, where you can download a free copy of both books, should you desire.

    • molly says:

      Gordon,

      Thank you for your kind words. Anytime someone compares my Dad to someone honest and brave, I can’t help but feel proud. Thank you for giving me that link. I will have to look further into those books.

  6. Andrea says:

    Molly,

    Thank you for sharing this. my dad has been gone for 5 years now but I still have days where I struggle. I am grateful for this post because I don’t think I have ever looked at his death that way, I am grateful for all other things in my life, good and bad but as for my dad passing I was always closed off to it. I would only think about it on the days I wanted and put it in the back of my mind.

    Thank you for putting things into perspective and putting 5 years of hardship to rest.

    -Andrea

    • molly says:

      Andrea,

      I am sorry to hear about your loss and so happy to hear that this post gave you some peace… it really stems from the fact that my Dad was such a grateful man. He instilled that in me a LOOONG time ago, although I don’t think I truly appreciated it until recently. Thank you so much for sharing your story.

  7. Julie says:

    Thank you for sharing your story. I have not had a tragedy in my life recently, but I appreciate being reminded that life is short and being grateful for what you have is so important! I am sorry for your loss and I hope you continue to find peace in all the things you are grateful for!

    • molly says:

      Julie, you are welcome. It is nice to be reminded how short life is and all that we have to be grateful for, even in times of happiness. I am glad you like it. Thank you so much for commenting.

  8. Jen says:

    Hi, Molly–

    I lost my dad January 1, 2004 very suddenly and can very much feel your pain. You never get over it but you DO get used to it.

    You are handling this in a very healthy way. I agree that you have to really be with the grief whenever and wherever it hits you. I truly believe that if you “handle” it as it comes, it’ll save your dealing with it over and over later.

    I try to practice gratitude each and every day and as you know, some days are easier than others! I feel strongly that I was just blessed with another angel in my camp when my dad died…and you can never have too many angels!! I really hear you when you say you were blessed with 27 years with him–I had 30 and I’m grateful for every one.

    Peace to you and your family,
    Jen

    • molly says:

      Jen,

      Thank you for the kind words. I am very sorry to hear about your Dad. That is what I have found thus far… you never “get over it” per se… it’s just that the pain gets more tolerable maybe…? It sounds like you are coping in a very healthy way… Thanks for sharing.

  9. Linda Roberson says:

    Love your post. I too lost my dad about five years ago so I know the pain and the finality of it all!! I had some of the same thought you shared. I was surprised that even though I had a six yr old son I didn’t think I could go on living the rest of my life without my dad. I too have realized the power or gratitude so I’m glad you shared this. I go to bed almost every night going over in my mind the things I’m thankful for that happened during the day and in my life in general. It keeps me peaceful and happy not to mention always grateful ;)

    • molly says:

      Linda,

      Sorry to hear about you losing your Dad. I know 5 years probably feels like a lifetime ago and yesterday all at the same time.

      So glad you liked my post! I remember when I was young, my Dad was dating a wonderful woman to whom I am still very close. She lost her Dad when she was in her 20′s and I remember at the time, thinking that that was a “normal” age to lose a parent (keep in mind I was 7 or 8, so anyone in their 20′s seemed pretty old ;-D) Now I can’t believe I ever thought that was “normal.” Heck, my Grandmother just passed less than 3 years ago… so my Dad had his Mom until he was 62!

      That’s exactly what I do as well. Go to bed thinking of all the things I have to be thankful for and praying for everyone I know who may be sick or in pain. It’s always a reality check for me. Thanks for sharing!

  10. cindy says:

    Hi, I came across this quite by accident & it moved me so. Your Dad was always so kind to me (he came to my yoga class) & always expressed his gratitude to me so clearly for the practice we had shared. Thank you for this post, you are so blessed to have such a wonderful Dad.

    • molly says:

      Cindy,

      Thank you so much for taking the time to write something. Yoga had such a profound effect on my Dad’s life… I am so glad he found people he enjoyed practicing with. He and I actually did a yoga class together one day… it was an interesting class to say the least, but that’s a story for another day! =)

      Thank you again for being a special part of his life, and for taking care of my family and my myself the way you did on his birthday this past year. We are grateful for you.

  11. Abby Sears says:

    You will ALWAYS be his baby… <3

    XOXO

    • molly says:

      XOXOXOXOX! Thanks sis. I love you and I am grateful for you. You are my favorite middle sister! ;-)

  12. Thank you for this post. I lost my Mom on February 18 of this year after a sudden and brief battle with cancer. She would have turned 60 last Monday. Every day is difficult but I do find comfort in things I can be grateful for in her life and the way she died (without much suffering and with her family at her side). I am grateful for the 30 years I had with her in physical form and the way she is still guiding me with her spirit. Thank you for writing with such grace and bravery and encouragement.

    -Rebecca

    • molly says:

      Rebecca,

      I am so sorry to hear of your recent loss. It’s definitely extremely difficult to lose someone so quickly, although knowing they didn’t suffer gives much peace of mind. Like I said in my post, I am very glad to remember him young and vibrant and full of life! =)

      I truly believe that she is guiding you with her spirit… I know I feel my Dad on my shoulder all the time. Thanks for sharing.

  13. I appreciate your insight in changing grief into gratitude. Your Daddy was a very special man who had a huge impact upon me. He possessed a rare insight and was gifted in many ways. I continue to draw inspiration from him and his ideas, and your work on fitness and health. Thank you for sharing this post.

    • molly says:

      Paul,

      Thank you for the kind words about my Dad. I know you were very important to him as well and he was grateful for your friendship and all of your efforts towards the causes that were so dear to him. I love knowing that he lives on in the ideas and concepts he shared with the rest of us… and in the spirits of those whose lives were affected by him.

      Thank you for being such a wonderful friend to him. I look forward to talking with you more.

  14. Sue McKaig says:

    Thank you, sweet heart, for writing on the remembrance of your dad and I notice today is my dad’s birthday. He died at 62 of a stroke after living 6 years from a heart attack repair. I was on a family vacation in Mexico with my husband, son and grandparents, uncles, aunts. It took my sisters days to reach me from Palo Alto after the fact! Because of your post, I’m going full ahead strong on my Gratitude Gaining. I actually don’t recall reading the post 3 weeks after so it was like reading it for the first time. Oddly, at the beginning of the subject matter I took time to be with my grief and tears before I could go on as earnestly as Gatewood would advise. And now you advise through wise counsel no doubt! Love to you and your sisters and family. Thanks again, Molly. You show grace wherever you are and for that your dad continues to deeply nuture you.

    • molly says:

      Sue! I am so glad you had a chance to read this since you missed it the first time. Thank you for all of your kind words and thank you (and David) for always being there when my Dad needed a friend, and now, for being there for my sisters and myself in our time of need. You guys are such wonderful people and my Dad was lucky to count you among his closest of friends. Look forward to seeing you soon!

  15. Nicole Bartlett says:

    Molly,
    My father and I worked with your dad briefly on his last campaign for Governor and while I didn’t put in the time that some of his supporters did, my love for him never faltered. This experience brought my father and I closer and was one of the last things we did together. I was heartbroken when I heard the news about Gatewood and sobbed all day, but was able to call my dad on that day and share that grief with him.

    I lost my father to a car accident on March 4th of this year, and appreciate your wise discussion in dealing with it. For me, giving myself that time to grieve is crucial, as I’m so quick to try and pick up pieces and move on. I can’t wait to share this information with my family as I think it will help them too.

    My dad loved Gatewood’s ideals and had signs printed for the campaign when there wasn’t money to do so. He would call me daily to tell me of places that he hung them (Jerry Abramson’s neighborhood, the democratic headquarters in Frankfort, etc.) and he worked the state fair multiple times to promote him for Governor. The only thing he ever wanted was to have Gatewood over to his house in Louisville and get some one on one time to catch up. I am sure they’re doing it now.

    Both of these men were unmistakably unique and wore a smile that would light up a room. We will carry their tenacity and strength with us and I hope to have the opportunity to swap stories with you some day. Wishing you peace and comfort during this time.
    Nicole

  16. Kathi Akrami says:

    I understand …. I lost my father at a young age . I grieve everytime someone I know looses a father.

    • molly says:

      Kathi, I understand…. I do now too that I have lost my own. I never understood how difficult and painful it was until I experienced it and now I feel very guilty for not doing a very good job of consoling and checking on other people who went through this same experience before me. But all we can do now is empathize and feel their pain and let them know they are in our thoughts. =) Thanks for sharing. Sorry for your loss.

  17. molly says:

    Nicole,

    I read your story and my heart aches for you. I am so so so sorry to hear about your recent loss. It is so hard because your world is shattered and yet you are expected to pick back up and carry on (for the most part) as if nothing has happened.

    I also want to thank you and your Father for your contributions to the campaign. People like you made it possible for my Dad to do what he did and do what he loved and spread his message, while also having time for important things like family. I thank you for that.

    I have no doubt they are in heaven together causing at least a little ruckus and catching up on things they missed. ;-)

    Thank you again for sharing your story. I would absolutely love to get together sometime to chat.

  18. Katherine says:

    Molly,

    This was such an incredibly touching post to read. My father died unexpectedly in May and as I am approaching the first anniversary of his death, I am filled with a mix of emotions. I watched my dad battle severe depression for the last three years of his life and he was an incredibly different person during those years. Following his suicide in May, I had a really hard time remembering the person that existed before—the wonderful, loving dad of 23 years of my life.

    Words cannot express how much this post has helped me to reconcile some of those feelings. I want so badly to be thankful and grateful for the wonderful father that I was privileged to have in my life, rather than just feeling cheated by his death.

    Thank you for sharing your story.

    Katherine Greene-Owens

    • molly says:

      Katherine,

      I am so sorry to hear about your Father and I am so happy that this post has helped, even in some small way. That must have been very hard to watch your Father suffer from such a debilitating illness the last few years of his life. Hopefully you have many memories of him when he was healthy and vibrant, that you can cling to.

      Thank you so much for your courage and sharing your story.

  19. He was a hero to many people.

    • molly says:

      Christopher,

      Thank you for sharing. I have to agree! =)

      I love hearing all the stories people have shared with me since his passing. Each one makes me feel a little closer to him.

  20. Ashley Morrow says:

    There are no words to describe the pain you must be feeling unless you have went through it. I unfortunatey do know that pain. My father passed away 7 years ago in August, I was 20 at the time. You will have times (if you haven’t already done this) when you will cry in the middle of an isle of a grocery store, because you saw your fathers favorite snack. But you will confide in your friends over a glass of wine (Mascato is pretty awesome), and you will cry some more. Or, you will one day wake up smiling because you got to see your father in your dreams smiling and laughing, and looking more healthy than ever (I had a dream of my father last night, JUST like that. I’m still smiling :) lol) This is an event in your life that might seem like you won’t be able to hold on, but if you continue to keep your father in your thoughts and apply all of the great lines of expectations he sought to you, you wil)l continue to be an incredible human being. (I don’t know you, but I can tell you are a strong woman, who has a lot of great people in your life.) Continue to be YOU, and thank you for expressing your feelings. That of course will help with your grieving as well.
    -Ashley Morrow

    • molly says:

      Ashley,

      Thank you so much for your sweet post. I know exactly what you mean. I think I said it above, but it’s like this awful, morbid little club that that you never want to be a member of. But you do understand one another like no one else can, which does lend some comfort.

      I do feel affected at the strangest of times. Seeing his handwriting is something that has really affected me a lot. It makes me miss him so much. I have been lucky enough to see him in my dreams twice… he told me that he would come and visit me occasionally so I look forward to seeing him more. =) Just thinking about that interaction makes me cry and grin from ear-to-ear at the same time.

      Thank you for sharing your story. It’s much appreciated.

  21. Lauren Turner says:

    Hi Molly,
    I was sent here by a friend. I lost my Dad suddenly this week, Monday 2 April to a heart attack. Thank you for your blog post. I too, am grateful that I last knew my Dad living a vibrant, happy and loving life.
    Much love to you, and thank you again. Lauren xo

    • molly says:

      Oh Lauren!

      I am just sick for you. It’s one of the worst and hardest things you will ever go through in your whole life…but you will get through it. You must. There is no other viable option.

      I remember that the first couple of weeks were actually a very surreal experience for me. I felt like I was watching myself go through the motions… I am not sure how you were feeling but I can imagine it’s any number of things: shock, disbelief, sadness, anger, frustration, confusion, grief… the whole gamut.

      I am so thankful that you found my post helpful. I refer back to it often as I find myself losing perspective at times… so hopefully you will do that as well if that happens to you. Hang in there and know that many people (even strangers) are wrapping you in the comfort of their thoughts and prayers.

      *hugs*

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  24. Jim says:

    Great post. This really moved me and made me think deeply about many things. I’m grateful I have a great parents and reading this just made me appreciate them even more and I’m going to let them know that.
    Thanks for sharing!

  25. Hayley says:

    I just found this as I was surfing the net after a really bad day. first, I’m sorry for your loss. Secondly, I think you’ve made a really great point about gratitude. Just now I’ve found a tiny little thing to be grateful for in my bad experience. I’m off to deadlift in the next hour :-)

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  28. I loved your Dad, he always greeted me as I was an old friend and I considered him a grand acquaintance. We shared many likes. And he is a cousin to a close friend of min in Lexington, Ky.

    I miss Mr. Gatewood’s coming into Perkins and lighting up the place with presence.

    Also knew him in a professional way as I was a CO for LFUCG for a career and saw Mr. Galbraith often.

    I cannot begin to express my sympathy for your loss as I can imagine from the loss of a community friend we had in Gatewood.

    We are promised to meet those we love one day to never part again. We we meet again.

    David
    Franklin Co.,Va.

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  31. Shane Saddler says:

    Thank you for sharing your story Molly. I lost my father December 20, 2013 and it has been the hardest thing I have ever dealt with. My father was my hero, very big part of my family and we are still lost to this day without him. We are very grateful he is no longer suffering or in pain, he fought throat & neck cancer for 3 years. Before his death, I was working out and losing weight, he called me everyday and cheered me on while I was at the gym and celebrated every goal with me. Since his death, I have gained 35 pounds, stopped working out and feel blah. Everything I have left I put into my children and help them with their grief and try to keep their lives normal while I am dying inside. We just took our oldest to college and now I am feeling that void and I am a stress eater. I am going to try and change my way of thinking to be grateful for the time I had, the memories we have instead of being mad he is no longer here. Thank you for sharing your story.

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