“Bye Bye Papa” WRAP by Carol Baily Floyd

Carol and her father

Carol Bailey Floyd, Advanced Level WRAP Facilitator, wrote this piece about her father who was an inspiration to her and whom she shares about all the time. The Copeland Center is fortunate to have Carol reflect on her relationship and her WRAP after his passing.

When my Dad, Sherman Bailey, was in his eighties, I began to dread the time when he would pass away.  Ever since I was a little girl, I loved hanging around with my Dad.  He was charming, witty, intelligent, and fun.  From as far back as I can remember, I followed him around helping him with chores and gardening.  He was famous for his Bailey tomatoes and to me there was no better culinary delight than a red ripe tomato right out of his garden.  Dad grew his last vegetable garden was when he was 95!

My Dad lived to be almost 97 years old, a beloved patriarch in our family and friend to many.   He stayed in his apartment to the very end.  For about a year, my daughter, Maribeth, stayed with him the majority of the time.  I was blessed to spend two days a week with my Dad.  I will treasure those times forever.  He never had to go to a nursing home or be in a wheelchair, and he fulfilled his fondest wish by passing away peacefully in his sleep in February of this year.

One thing that helped me right away was that I had co-facilitated a grief support group at my church for a while.  I learned that it is a good idea to keep an open heart during grieving times.  With an open heart, you are able to receive all the love and kindnesses that are coming in your direction.  When my Mom died in 1987, I just fell apart and my family had to deal with that along with everything else.  I was so upset – my heart was definitely closed.

About six years ago, I got a really great idea – adapting a WRAP (Wellness Recovery Action Plan) for after my Dad was gone.  I gave copies to my family and supporters, and in the process became more secure that I could bear his loss.  It was a comfort to me to know that my “Bye Bye Papa” WRAP would help get me through some really dark and difficult grieving times.

I have lots and lots of Wellness Tools, and a Daily Maintenance Plan that is flexible.  Some of the things I added to my daily activities were walking, naps, exchange listening, and using as many Wellness Tools as necessary.  Having some structure to my days was very helpful.

Dealing with the huge Trigger of my Dad’s passing was one of the biggest challenges of my life.  Knowing that my WRAP was supporting me every day made everything a lot easier.   My Trigger Action Plans included not wanting to be alone for at least a week, getting an appointment with my counselor quickly, being included in important decisions, and chocolate.

I recognized that everyone in my family, and lots of our friends were deeply affected by the passing of my Dad.  It helped me a lot to reach out to them.  That was one of my best Action Plans.

My Early Warning Signs were also labeled “Normal Reactions” because I knew that I would be devastated, and I wanted to reassure my supporters and myself that it was okay to have and express my feelings.  Some of those indications were crying a lot, stuttering, eating irregularly, and extreme sadness.  My Action Plans included writing in my journal, going to a grief support group, and appreciating the outreach from my family, friends, and church family.

I was glad that I did not have to use the “When Things Are Breaking Down” section because the rest of my plan has really been effective for me.  My family and friends have not been intrusive at all, but have been a steady loving presence in my life.  Having my “Bye Bye Papa” WRAP has been enormously helpful to me in getting through this difficult time with my dignity intact.  

A grief counselor once told me that a person who is grieving gets over a big hurdle when they are more grateful for the existence of their beloved person in their life than they are overwhelmingly sad that they’re gone.  I can honestly say that my gratitude for the existence of my treasured Papa outweighs deep grief. Since WRAP has been a strong presence in my life for over ten years, it was natural to adapt it to help me coordinate my Dad’s death.  Having my “Bye Bye Papa” WRAP was an enormous blessing to me and very helpful to my supporters.  Thank you, WRAP!

Carol Bailey Floyd

The Copeland Center is honored to be able to offer scholarships in Sherman Bailey's name.