My 18-year-old daughter died in a car accident on her way to school a few weeks ago. I’m going to try to convey what it’s like.
Police officer shows up at the door: This will haunt me for the rest of my life. My fiancee and I were sleeping, as we work 3rd shift. The beating on the door was loud… I’m not sure how long he was there before it woke me up. It did not wake my fiance up. I looked out the window and saw an unmarked SUV but I could tell it was the police. I answered the door and he said my name. I answered “yes”. He said my daughter’s name and I said “yes”. He said that she was in an accident (I knew what was coming next) and that she had expired. I went to my knees and made noises I’ve never heard myself make before. He got me inside to the couch and asked if anyone else was there. I told him my fiance’s name as I was crying uncontrollably. He yelled her name a number of times and she came out. He started talking to her and she started yelling “Oh my God” and came to hold me. She and my daughter were very close.
Telling family: About a half hour later I started making phone calls. This part is crucial. If this happens to you, make these calls as soon as possible or have someone go tell them quickly. Word spreads like wildfire… especially with social media. You do not want loved ones finding out this way. Someone posted about this on my wall only a few hours after this happened. I made the calls and cried as I listened to them wail. It is aweful.
Seeing her after the accident: At first I did not want to see her. I kept saying “That’s not her.” Later in the day I changed my mind. This was extremely surreal and heartbreaking. She was transported to the funeral home the same day. We all stood there in the hallway until a man asked if we were ready. He opened a door to a room, I walked in and saw her all by herself at the far end of the room in a casket. This was my daughter in front of me… my beautiful girl that was full of life that very morning. I kissed her forehead repeatedly and told her how much I love her.
People and planning: Besides the grief, I never realized how overwhelming something like this was. While I was still in shock, people were reaching out from everywhere… many of which I hadn’t heard from in years. I was on the phone for the majority of each day for over a week straight… not to mention all the people visiting. All of these people were sincerely caring and I appreciate them all, but I can’t exactly describe what it does to your emotional state other than saying it’s overwhelming and draining. The planning is another thing that I did not expect and it begins almost immediately. There are countless things that needed to be taken care of and I had to do all of these things while grieving. I’m still not done with everything, actually.
Her funeral: It was six days after her death and I thought I had no tears left. I was very wrong. I still could not completely wrap my mind around the fact that I was at my own daughter’s funeral. I’ve known other people who have lost children… but this had actually happened to mine.
Grieving: The first two days after her accident were filled with non-stop crying and disbelief. I’m a grown man who rarely cries. The third day was off and on crying all day and now it’s about 2 to 3 times a day. For the first week it hit me especially hard in the mornings when I woke up. I’m now in a state of constant sadness and still some disbelief that she is not coming home… but not as much crying. The most accurate and heartbreaking word I can use to describe this whole thing is “permanent”. It’s the most permanent thing I’ve ever experienced in my life. No matter how much my mind tries to find a way around it at times, she’s not coming back.
Guilt and Regret: I wish I had done things different. I wish I had spent more time with her than what I did. I wish I had protected her more than what I did from those who were unkind and even emotionally abusive to her. I wish I had been awake that morning to see her off to school… maybe I could have changed something and maybe she wouldn’t have wrecked. I wish I could have been there to hold her during her last minutes of life. I wish it would have been me instead. I feel guilty doing things… like going out to eat (haven’t felt like cooking) and taking my other two children to the movies last night.
Her accident: I’m still obsessing over it and still finding out details from those who were there. She knew she was dying and was asking those around her to pray with her. She always wore her seatbelt but she didn’t have it on this time. Did she drop something and take it off? She had food in the car that she got from the nearby gas station that morning. I checked her phone and my Verizon log and she wasn’t texting or talking to anyone. Why did she over-correct her steering? These are the questions I’m trying to answer. I know it won’t change anything but for some reason I need to know.
I’m only 2 weeks and 3 days in to this and I know I have a long way to go… but so far this is the best way I can describe what it’s like to lose your child. She was extremely smart, talented, beautiful and kind… she had an amazing life waiting on her. I love her to no end and I miss her every minute of the day.
I have to remain strong for those who need me… so I think telling my story and pouring my heart out here helps in a way.