My superhero dad – who cares for him?

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Celine got in contact after finding Let’s Talk About Loss on Twitter, and she has written a fantastic blog about her concerns for her dad after her mum passed away. This is fantastic post that shows Celine’s bravery, kindness and compassion for others – read on to find out more!

It’s a certainty that at some point in our lives, we will lose someone we love. However for some, this loss happens a long time before anyone expected or was ready for.

I personally found myself being one of those people who lost a loved one earlier than I could ever have imagined. That was my mother. She was diagnosed with cancer when I was 10 years old and despite being given months to live, she lived for another 3 1/2 years. To say we were lucky for that extra time with her doesn’t cut it in terms of gratefulness, but I also know that not everybody is that lucky, for some, loss comes very soon after a diagnosis, and sometimes it’s a complete shock.

What about everyone else?

When you read this post, some of you will be in a similar situation and relate in some way, while some of you will sympathise with the event. But while I wrote about me and my experience of losing my mother, quite selfishly I forget about others surrounding me who also lost my mother. This includes people like my Dad, grandmother/father, aunt/uncles and friends all of whom had some connection with my mother.

All this time I have been the one being checked on and cared for, but who is checking up on them? Well sadly I have experienced first hand the effect unpaid attention to grief can have on adults just as much as a child/young adult. Depression…. *sirens start screaming*.

There is such a stigma surrounding depression that we as a society are still working on abolishing. The common assumption that someone is just ‘sad’ is only dragging us backwards. In this case grief is the main reason and my dad is its current hostage. I purposefully avoid the word victim because that is not what anyone with depression is, not every day is a ‘down’ day and with the right help it doesn’t have to be a permanent situation.

Disappointed by depression

I have no idea how long my dad had depression before he chose to tell me or to seek help but my heart broke when he finally did because he seemed so disappointed with himself to admit it. I don’t know if that is because he is a man, or if it was the fact he had to ask his daughter for help – and who can be surprised when we are led to believe you always have to be the strong one for your child.

Either way, I am glad he told me. Family and friends are supportive while society is still promoting this image of men can’t cry, or show any weakness, they just have to ‘suck it up’ and get on with it. This only makes things harder for men to share their struggles. Similarly, people assume that grief will only last a few weeks before you’re singing from the same sheet of music as you were before – I can assure you that going through something like this you will never be the same person, which perhaps is a good thing. Carrying the extra luggage (grief, depression) can sometimes be exhausting.

“Society is always telling parents how to be “good parents” but nothing can prepare a parent for the loss of their spouse”

To this day we don’t really talk about the depression but there are days when we don’t have to – we quite simply say I’m not feeling great or I don’t feel like doing anything today, and I’m glad we’re at this place right now. This is still new to us, so being able to communicate through it without having to say the words ‘I’m depressed’ is a good enough step for me.  Like any relationship, when my dad isn’t feeling great I step up, even if it means making the dinner, doing the house chores or taking him a cup of tea in bed – anything to make that day more bearable.

Supporting each other is so important

I think this issue is so important to me because society is always telling parents how to be “good parents” but nothing can prepare a parent for the loss of their spouse. When they have children I can only imagine it is even harder because they have lost their reassurance that they’re doing the right thing. I can truthfully say I’ve been a lucky girl to have the parents I have. My dad has done an incredible job – the love he has shown me, the support he has given me, the encouragement to not quit everything and do what I love, even when he has been struggling. So that is why I urge you to tell whoever it is that surrounds you when experiencing a loss that they are doing a great job and that they need to look after themselves, as well as everyone else.

Have you got a story to share? Let’s Talk About Loss aims to break down the barriers by talking openly and honestly about grief. Whatever your story, get in touch today by emailing