Grief the ugly black dog.
So this is hard to share but with it being national child grief week I want to share my story. I’ve most many family members but I never imagined losing my dad at 22 years old. I remember him complaining about hip pain and like most men he didn’t go to the GP, when he finally did and had scans they found he had stage 4 lung cancer symptomless until it spread to his bones and gave him pain in his hips.
I remember my mum telling me and sugar coating it alot with how he will have chemo and radiotherapy, there was never a mention of what if of what was to come.
In just 4 short months I watched my dad change from a strong happy man to a shadow of himself. I watched him in pain and saw him spending more and more time in bed. He was diagnosed in May and by August he started having some strange turns, he would see things and picture up situations. He used to yell out that mum was hurting him ... she was at work and nowhere near him yet some life long friends of theirs actually fell out with her and to this today hardly talk to her because they believed she could have hurt him. It was heartb to watch.
I buried myself into work and in September I landed from an Alicante flight to misse calls and messages from family telling me I need to get home.
My dad was on a bed in our living room and he was dying. I remmeber reading him the book he used to read me as a child by hans Christian anderson the danish author, I do believe this is why I love Copenhagen so much I feel connected there. That morning my Auntie and Uncle ( who stayed and only come over when there’s family deaths ) woke me to tell me dad had passed and I should go say goodbye whilst he was still warm. I remember my little sister just 16 at the time climbing into the bed with me and Rob and sobbing under the covers, It broke my heart. I made a silent promise to myself to always be there for her from that day forward , to always have her back. The year that followed was the hardest of my life, I would cry so hard I would be sick, Or I would have panic attacks and break down some days I refused to get out of bed and some days I wanted to die too. I felt like my mum didn’t love me as muchas my siblings and now I realise it was just her grief and probably because I look most like my dad it was harder for her to be around me? but I felt like she didn’t appreciate anything I did for her at the time. I used to act out when I’d drink and do silly things and upset family around me. I kicked off at my own cousins hen do and made a right twat of myself because I couldn’t handle my emotions when I had a drink. ( Sorry Bon)
The years that followed I became less angry at dad for leaving us, and started to accept that he wasn’t coming back, I loved my Dad so much, We used to sit on the kitchen work top and talk for hours, or watch air crash investigation together until the early hours with mum shouting down to turn the TV down. I honestly don’t think anyone understood how close I was with dad, He made me smile, made me laugh, and always knew the Right answers, He was so proud when I got Easyjet cabin crew after how awful Ryanair were to me, He was proud of me even though I didn’t get my degree and left uni to be a flight attendant. We used to snigger like kids when mum was getting stressy and dad would say something to wind her up more, he was generous, he always helped me out no matter how many times I had to ask he always did it. One of our last memories was him & mum paying got me to come to Tenerife with them to watch my sister and her friend and keep them out of trouble, I remember playing monopoly on the balcony on my phone and dad nearly throwing it over the balcony because he didn’t get technology at all! He used to call the family Pc “ebay” because thats all he knew how to use on it. The years pass and the pain never lessens, in fact it gets harder, When I had Grace I was always thinking gosh Dad would have adored you and spoilt you rotten! He never got to see his grandkids, see his youngest daughter graduate from university with a business degree or how kind and caring his Son turned out to be, I know we all miss dad so much, it’s hard to talk about it with each other which is sad but it helps us carry on. I do think talking about it is a positive but I even struggle to talk to Grace about grandad peter and how amazing he was, She often asks me what he was like and if she looks like him, I see alot of dad in Grace, alot of her facial expressions too Resemble his. We’ve taken her to his grave a few times and explained Grandad is in the clouds now but as she’s getting older she gets that he is dead and that means gone forever. She does like looking at his Photos and it’s nice to see her take an interest.
Grief is never going to go away, it’s always going to live with me, I feel like part of my heart was lost when he passed and although the girls came along and filled a void I never knew I had, that piece is still missing. I think about “old fogey” all the time! I often cry in the car, its my safe place to grieve unnoticed and peacefully.
with the weddin coming up I’m feeling all kinds of emotion, I’m heartbroken I won’t have my dad walk me down the aisle or have our daddy daughter dance or just one last hug. I want to mention him in my speech and lay a place for him at the top table but I know I’ll cry and in fromt of so many people that scares me most. I do have the most amazing brother who is going to walk me instead, and I’m hoping without making everyone cry to invite all the special men in my life to “father daughter dance with me” and play one of dad’s favourite songs - “sweet child of mine” my dad was abit of an old rocker he loved guns n roses, ACDC and all that!
If your struggling with Grief there are lots of helplines and charities to talk to but also my inbox is always open, I’m always here for a cuppa or a phone call, I’ve been there, I know how dark Grief can get, but I also know there is light amongst the dark days and there is a life after death, we don’t stop living and we never forget those who don’t walk with us too, they are always here in our hearts.