Dear Eric,
I had found your podcast on my ipod last night and I was so glad I had found it. My name is Alisha and I am a 25 year old, wife to a wonderful husband and three beautiful girls.   I wanted to share my story with you. On september 14, 2008, I lost my Dad who was at the age of 51 to a sudden tragic accident with a gun. At the time my family and my husband’s family were on a camping trip. That sunday (sept. 14th) we were planning on packing up that day, but planned on staying up there for the remainder of the day. Early that morning I had gone to town to get some pop and ice. I stopped to visit my Dad before I went back up. I also invited him to come up to where we were camped to hang out with us. He told me that he wanted to sight in a gun that he had recently bought.  He said he would be up a little after noon. I left his apartment at around 11:00 a.m. As the day went by, my Dad never showed up to the camp. I was worried, but was trying to think positive that he was taking a nap or got into watching the Nascar race on tv. When we got back to town, I had tried calling him to see what he was up to and if he wanted to go hunting with my family and I. He didn’t answer and usually he would be calling me right back. I gave it a bit and tried again and no answer and no call back. I had called my older brother Justin who’s 29 years old too see if he had talked to our Dad.  Justin talked to him early that morning after I did. I was still trying my hardest to think positive, but something told me not to go to his apartment.  Well I told Justin we were headed out to go for a little road hunt. As we were hunting, we came to a moose in the middle of the road. Moose are my favorite animal.. Well this moose did not want to move out of the road. Finally, he moved and we were on our way. This seemed really strange to me like this moose was trying to tell me something. A little ways down the road, my father in law and brother in law had caught up to us. My husband got out to talk to them and I knew something was wrong. I got out of the truck and I said “It’s my Dad isn’t it?” My father in law preceded to tell me that my dad was gone and that we needed to get back to town to my mom’s house. At this point in time I didn’t know what to think or believe. I kept telling myself that it wasn’t true. On our way back, I saw another moose running through the flats. To me I feel that seeing the moose was some kind of sign, but I haven’t quite figured out what yet. I got to my mom’s house and immediately fell to the ground. My mom and dad have been divorced for 6 years. My mom had told me that Justin was the one to find my dad at his apartment and that she went over and tried to do all that she could to help and that it was too late. We did not find out till later that night how my dad had died. My husband and father in law knew from the beginning what had happened, but didn’t think that we should know just yet how. Later that night, I asked my husband how it had happened and he finally told me that my Dad had accidently been shot. They thought that it was suicidal at first till they investigated it further. It was ruled out as an accident. When my mom and Justin were over there they did not notice a thing. One of the most hardest things when this happened was telling my kids that their Grandpa was gone and never coming back. My oldest daughter who is 6 was the only one to kind of understand.
This last six months have been the hardest most difficult time in my life. My life has not been the same. I’ve been having a hard time coping with the fact that my dad is gone. Listening to your show has helped me a lot. It gives me the hope and comfort that I am not the only one suffering and also that my dad is still with me everyday. I have also been having trouble sleeping at night. When I go to bed, everything comes back to my mind over and over again. That whole day goes through my head. Also the most hardest part is how it happened. We had got a police report of all the findings and how they felt it happened. That goes through my head over and over again wondering how it exactly happened. This would be the hardest thing I am coping with besides my dad being gone. Do you have any suggestions of what I can do to get through this.
Thank you for taking the time to read my story and I am so thankful that there are people out there like you to help others out with these difficult times. I really enjoy listening to your show on the topics that are related to losing my  dad and the emotions I have.
Sincerely, Alisha Keetch
Dear Alisha,
I could not relate to you anymore than if I was there with you.   My deepest empathy to you and your family on the passing of your Dad.   I know how hard it is, trust me.   I lost my Dad on January 29, 2006 (you never forget the date), of an unexpected heart attack.   I got a call from my sister to go to the hospital.   The only thing she told me on the phone was, “Get to the hospital, something has happened to Dad.”   Alisha, I knew when I hung up the phone he was dead.   Just like you saw the moose as a sign, I knew from the tone of her voice that something was drastically wrong.   I had exactly an hour to drive, organize, and try to prioritize what do next and in the days and months to come.   We had to wait 4 months for the autopsy report to come back because my Dad died at home.   Those 4 months were excruciating, I understand your mental anguish in trying to reconstruct the scene, it was awful for me as well.   The fact that at times you don’t know and it is out of your control can sometimes be worse than the actual event itself.
I absolutely had trouble sleeping at night.   That is how my book about my Dad, I Miss My Dad, was born.   I needed to write down all the positive and constructive ways he influenced my life and I thought other people could benefit as well.   This definitely worked for me but not for everybody.   It is important to find something that works for you. It could be having a cup of coffee, reading to your girls before bed, or thinking of something your Dad did to make you laugh.
The moose is a first in a long list of signs that will come to you, Alisha.   The only thing you have to do is to keep your mind open to all the opportunities that your Dad will have to converse with you.   It might be a song you hear on the radio, a picture that has a mind of its own, or a NASCAR race that you watch.   He will let you know that he is all right but in his own way.   It might not be anything that you can see or hear, just accept it for what it is.
My best advice is to stay busy and continue to honor the memory of a man that you so greatly admired.   It does get better over time, but it never truly goes away because that person was so important in your life that they have a little piece of your heart forever.   Encourage your kids to ask questions about Grandpa.   It will help you to talk about it as well.   Whatever your feeling that day, go with it.   Nothing you feel is wrong.   If you feel sad, cry. If you feel happy, put a smile on your face.   Everything and anything is OK.   Know that somedays will be better than others.
We are always here for you at the Open to Hope Foundation.   We love listening to stories like yours Alisha.   Please continue to listen to follow us on the web and we are always here for you to lend an ear when you need one.
Always a friend to listen,
Eric Tomei-author I Miss My Dad
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Eric Tomei

Eric Tomei

Eric Tomei is a physical therapist residing in the metro Detroit area. He has a B.A. in Psychology, a B.S. in Health Sciences and a masters degree in physical therapy from Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan. I Miss My Dad…is his first book with the hopes of uniting everyone who has lost a Dad or loved one to share their stories. His mission is to let people know that they are not alone in dealing with the loss of a loved one and you will always have a friend to talk to. He has a passion for charity work as 15% of each book sold will be donated to Habitat for Humanity. His goal is to raise $1 million for this charity through donations and the sale of I Miss My Dad… Eric appeared on the radio show Healing the Grieving Heart with hosts Dr. Gloria & Dr. Heidi Horsley, to discuss Father’s Day Without a Father. To listen to this show, go to the following link: https://www.voiceamerica.com/episode/39135/fathers-day-without-a-father-and-finding-success-in-your-life

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