My Story: Building a Support System After my Father Passed Away
By Saniya Ghanoui —
Hillary recalls dealing with the death of her father and how she and her siblings supported each other during this difficult time.
OBOS Today: You also mentioned that um soon after your father passed that you didn’t really allow yourself to grieve. Have you been able to do that after your learning to um care for yourself better? Do you think you were able to finally grieve for your father and come to terms with what happened?
Hillary: Yeah, like I allowed myself, especially in the moment where I first saw my first therapist, I just allowed myself to cry. Like sometimes that’s all you really can do is to just cry and to let you know all the hurt and the pain and the loss like out. And I remember you know the day of his funeral, you know. I thought I was going to be the stoic one who had to be strong for my siblings, but I was the one who was crying the most. I cried like that entire day. But I knew that the day after, after we buried him that I’d feel better because I got all of the, the pain and the heartache out. And even now, like even after the funeral, there are days where I miss him and if I missed him, I would cry just to let it out, just so that I know that I, I am a human and that it’s normal for me to be upset about something that was so traumatic for me.
OBOS Today: Thank you so much for sharing that. That’s something very personal and for you being able to talk about that openly is really great so thank you. You—
Hillary: Thank you.
OBOS Today: Yeah, you mention that you have siblings. How many and how old are they?
Hillary: So, I have, I have three sisters and I have one brother. Two of my sisters are from my parents’ previous marriages so like one of them looks nothing like me because her mother is a Caucasian so like we don’t necessarily look alike but I love her to bits, she’s, she’s an attorney. I want to be an attorney as well. We are, we got very, very close after my dad passed away. Um, you know we have a group chat now where we all like talk. Um, I have a younger sister. I try to check up on her the most because she was fourteen when she lost my dad and they have the same birthday, so they were, they were extremely close so because of you know that kind of loss, I just try to make sure that I talk to her and stuff and make sure she’s okay. My older sister who is my mom’s daughter, she, she took the death very hard as well because she saw my dad as her dad. Um, and um, I have a brother. He’s more like my father where he’s very quiet. I think for him, he doesn’t cry in front of us. The only time I saw him cry was when my father was about to pass away and I, I’d never seen him cry like that in my entire life.
OBOS Today: Are there ways that your siblings support you or you support your siblings in these moments of hardship, and you know a shared culture which you mentioned kind of um, stifled your ability to care for your mental health the way you needed to initially? So, after going on this journey and learning to care for yourself better and recognizing how bits of your culture, just the world you live in, have impacted that. Are there ways that you try to support your younger or older siblings or how they have supported you that have maybe helped you guys uh support each other?
Hillary: Yeah, um, I love my siblings. I love all of them. I’m very lucky to have them, like when we all come together it’s just laughing and you know fun and we try to support each other by you know, we have we have a group chat. If someone is sick, if someone is you know not feeling well, you know we all try to call them make sure that they’re okay. We’re constantly checking on each other. I text my younger sister every day. I text my older sister at least once or twice a week just because I know that she’s a little bit busier. Um, my, my brother will call me, he’ll FaceTime me, he’s like, “Are you okay? Do you need anything? Do you need money? Do you need um, you know food? Like I will do that for you,” and you know, vice versa. He was having a hard time in school, and I gave him money. I gave him advice. And my older sister’s amazing as well and she and um, my, my brother-in-law, they are incredible. They will drop anything for us. And I’m, I’m, just lucky that even with such a traumatic event like I have a very solid secure family unit that keeps me grounded um and keeps me happy.