‘My rock, my biggest fan, my strongest person, was at his weakest.’: Daughter shares life lessons from father lost to suicide

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“20 years ago, the morning after my wedding, my husband and I drove to my parent’s home in Massapequa, NY, from our hotel about 20 minutes away.

We were newlyweds.

We just had the most amazing wedding ever. All of our closest friends and family were there. I was on cloud 9. I just married the man of my dreams. The man that my parents absolutely adored, the man that all of my family adored, too. I felt like LIFE was just beginning.

We arrived to my parents’ home the next morning to a house full of cars. I thought everyone was there to see us, greet us before we left to head back home to Atlanta, see the newly married couple. Right? Isn’t that what you would think if you saw all of those cars?

I had no idea my life was about to take the worst turn.

Everyone was there because my father’s illness took over that morning, exactly 19 years ago. He tried to take his own life. It was the worst day of my entire life, second to the day he was successful in this. But I hate to even say that. He didn’t try to take his life, his disease did. His illness did. And years later, the damn depression won – it took my father away from us!

Little girl with glasses cuddles with her dad on the couch
Courtesy of Lori Miggins

The next time I saw him on that day he was in the hospital. bandaged up in all the places you can imagine. His wrists, his chest, and I can’t remember where else. I just remember holding his big, hairy hand, rubbing his big, hairy, navy ship-tattooed forearm, his head on my chest, sort of rocking him and hugging him, as if the roles were reversed and he was my child and I was his parent.

Father and daughter take a photo together while enjoying drinks by the poolside
Courtesy of Lori Miggins

My rock, my biggest fan, my strongest person – was at his weakest moment I had ever seen him, ever.

He was lost, he was confused, he was not really there.

After years of treatments, in the best hospitals, with the best doctors, practicing the best medications, staying in the best hospitals for weeks at a time, we did lose him to this vicious disease.

Grandpa smiles for a photo in a sweater with his granddaughter
Courtesy of Lori Miggins

I spent several years mad at him. Full of anger and frustration and what-if’s. But with therapy, counseling, research, and understanding, I learned to channel my anger elsewhere. I’m not upset with him. It’s the disease he battled.

Depression is just that – a disease with no cure.

If you know someone with depression, have compassion and understanding for the disease before you judge them. Understand that they are fighting a demon no one can see, not even them.

Daughter sits between her parents while enjoying dinner together on vacation
Courtesy of Lori Miggins

If you know of someone suffering with ANXIETY and/or DEPRESSION, please know they have a disease. Just like cancer or anything else. It’s something they can NOT just ‘shake off.’ This is an illness – it has NOTHING to do with the person.

I miss him every single day and today I am reminded of how lucky I was to have him as my father. He was an incredible man with a huge heart that was hit with a disease of the mind.

Grandpa kisses his granddaughter while spending some quality family time together
Courtesy of Lori Miggins

He is one of the reasons I push so hard every day for big things, for big goals, for big dreams, for my ability to help others, and I choose to begin my day helping myself the way that I do first!

I take control of what I can: movement, eating well, starting my day with a good sweat, Starting the day off right. Living in the moment, finding my happy, leading with love, and just being the best me I can be.

That’s what he always showed me. He was always doing for others. He was always trying to be better. Always.

So ask yourself today, are you doing the best you can every day? Are you showing up for yourself and for others in a positive way the best you can? If you are, that’s amazing. If not, ask yourself how you can.

That’s all you can do – be a little better than you were the day before.”

Father and daughter take a photo together, both wearing sweaters and jeans and holding dogs
Courtesy of Lori Miggins

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Lori Miggins of Lake Norman, NC. You can follow her journey on Facebook, Instagram, her website, and her podcast. Submit your own story  hereand be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

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