DEAR HARRIETTE: My father recently passed away, and his death has been hard on me. Growing up, we always talked about the future and what it will bring. Everything I have done in my life has been to make my father proud. I was his only daughter, and he wanted nothing but the absolute best for me. He always told me that doctors make good money and I should continue to work hard to be one someday. I am a successful orthopedist, and I am very proud of how far I’ve come.
A few days ago, the realization finally hit me: I have done everything for my dad to make him happy. Making him happy made me happy, but since he is no longer here, finding my own happiness has been difficult. How can I become happy with myself and live for myself from here on out? -- On My Own, Minneapolis
DEAR ON MY OWN: Your father laid a tremendous foundation for you that inspired you to be your best. You will forever have his love living in your heart, which should help in different ways to ease the pain of losing him.
Now is the time for you to remind yourself that you are prepared to live on your own and fulfill the dreams that you and your father had for your life. You don’t necessarily have to think of his loss as you being totally alone. Your father’s spirit will always be with you. You can think of this as the next chapter of your journey.
Make a list of the things you enjoy doing -- for work and for pleasure. Who are the people you enjoy the most? Schedule quality time with them. Expand your circle of friends. Try new activities. You may also want to see a bereavement counselor to get advice on how to handle your father’s death. You can find them at your house of worship or through your primary care physician.