A fun and safe place for grieving children.

From The Heart: Dad's Best Girl

This year we are kicking off a new feature here called From the Heart. You’ll be hearing first-hand from campers parents, volunteers and Comfort Zone supporters with their stories about dealing with grief. Today we start with the story written by Talia Berk, a New Jersey volunteer who shares with us her feelings about losing her father.



Dad's Best Girl


I remember the first holiday season without my dad.


We were sitting around the table on the first night of Hanukkah, and although it had been six months, and although everyone was trying to avoid it, the four of us couldn't help gazing at the empty place at the table where my dad used to sit.


I was the oldest of three young children, and my mom would cry at the mention or thought of my dad's name, so I took on the role of being the "strong" one. Yet, deep inside my 12-year-old-and-in-denial-brain, I wanted some acknowledgement of my dad, and when I realized that wasn't going to happen as a family, I decided to do something myself.


Remembering a loved one is so important. It's healthy and normal. But it took me a long time to figure that out for myself.


My family, even past that holiday season, never did much to remember my dad. It seemed that it was a subject that everyone wanted to avoid because it was too painful to bring up. Everyone acted like nothing had happened. And that was not OK with me. 


I found ways, and am still finding ways, of remembering and honoring my dad around the holidays, in my own perspective. His birthday is in the beginning of December, and it's kind of like the start of doing things to remember and celebrate his spirit. I take the holidays as a time to write letters to my dad, and then burn them outside so the ashes go up to the sky. I like to wear the color green, because it was his favorite color. I listen to lots of music that reminds me of him - not just sad songs, but happy songs, too - because I like to remember happy times together. And I meditate - boy, do I meditate.


And this year, my New Year's Resolution is to pick up one of his guitars and learn how to play. Making music on his guitar was one of the greatest passions in his life.


The holidays don't get easier without my dad, but rather, I find more and more healthy ways to cope and connect with him even though he is not here. He always called me "his best girl" (I was his only daughter), and so just like his nickname for me, I try to be the best version of myself that I can be.


By being that best version of myself, I can allow myself to remember my dad, but in a healthy way, and it makes every day seem a little less difficult, and a little more joyous.

-- Talia Berk, SUNY Oswego '13, CUNY Hunter '16




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