Guest Blog: Whole Again by Barbara Catallo

A few months ago my wonderful and talented friend asked me to be a guest blogger. She had only one guideline… I should write about something that impacted me. A subject came to mind immediately, but I initially dismissed it because I was afraid it was too negative or too sad, or worse yet, nobody would relate to it.

I then tried to think of only positive, impactful events. Naturally, becoming a mom popped into my mind. My two children are absolutely the best part of my life. I could write about my daughter and my son for days and their impact on my life would be crystal clear. Yet, this seemed too easy.

Here’s the thing… no matter what I tried to write about, I could not escape the “other topic.” Since I was tasked to write about something that impacted my life, this event could not be avoided.

I lost my father when I was 15 years old. To be honest I lost a little piece of myself that day too. Without a doubt, I lost some of my youthful and carefree innocence.

The death of a parent at any age is difficult, but as a child or teen it is life altering. It shapes who you are and unfortunately, in some negative ways that you don’t realize until later in life.

Losing my father was a defining moment in my life. It colored the way I navigate through life. While most of the summer that I lost my father is a blur, I can remember that most of it was spent in shock or in my bed with a splitting headache.

He was sick most of my life, but as a child I truly couldn’t imagine death. He was in and out of hospitals often, but again, I couldn’t fathom death or it’s impact. I didn’t know anyone who had lost a parent, so it simply didn’t enter my mind. Sometimes ignorance is bliss; sometimes it is not.

When I went back to school in September is when it really hit me. I was surrounded by a lot of friends, but often felt very alone. I would hear my classmates talk about their dads & I knew I would never have those experiences. Plus, he would not teach me to drive or attend my high school graduation. I would not tell him all about my first day at college and my first job. There would be no introductions to my fiancé and he would never walk me down the aisle.

During my college years, I kept most people at arm’s length to protect myself. If I didn’t have to hear about anyone else’s relationship with their dad, I would be fine. Of course, that wasn’t true, but I couldn’t see that.

My first job after college was in a small office. I was the youngest in the office and I was treated like everyone’s daughter or granddaughter. My co-workers were kind and friendly and we all became close. Over time they shared many things about their lives including their own heartaches. It is around this time I started to realize that I could choose to dwell in my pain, which I did for many years, or I could search for something more. Instead of letting it consume and isolate me, I found that I am not alone.

What point am I trying to share? The truth is that grief is universal. We do not “get over” the loss; we actually learn to live with it. We heal and rebuild around the loss we have suffered. Genuine acceptance comes when you realize that while you will never be the same, you will be whole again.

1 Comment

Barbara, thank you for sharing. I lost my dad at 12 and my then 38-year-old mom was left with 5 girls, the oldest 17, the youngest just turning 6. My mom was a stay-at-home mom who had previously been a teacher but of course with 5 young girls gave up her career for us. There are so many moments that I clearly remember, one of them being the moment when my sisters and I were told the news of his illness. I was sitting at the window and my mom said he had a malignant tumor on his colon, and I said, ‘well at least it’s not cancer’ and everyone cried. He was very sick for 2 years then passed at our home at 44.

It wasn’t until 12 years ago that healing started for me through a reiki session where my dad’s presence was so strong that it changed the course of my life. I have since become a mindfulness meditation teacher, energy practitioner and coach because I believe in the internal power of healing. My sisters and mom have come along with me on this journey, and we have begun to heal together.

So, Barbara thank you for sharing. We are not alone in this journey.

Much love,