Kate shares her honest thoughts following the loss of her dad just under a year ago. If you would find sharing your story a helpful and cathartic process, you can send a blog post to firstname.lastname@example.org and we would love to share it to show others who are struggling that they are not alone.
I never know whether to say I lost my dad, that he passed away, or simply that he died. I wish I could manage to say “he died” more but I always end up telling others that he passed away because it sounds softer and not as stark. Easier for them to hear and for me to say.
We will never know
His death was extremely stark. He died suddenly on 2nd May 2018 at home. He was only sixty one. I was only twenty eight. He’d been a bit off colour those last few weeks but nothing to make anyone think it was anything other than a normal bug. He was a retired fireman. He was strong. Maybe he was keeping how he felt to himself. We don’t know.
He’d be fine. Dad was always fine
I was 21 weeks pregnant and had just been to an antenatal appointment. I needed to go to the shops after and had just parked my car when I checked my phone. I always keep my phone on silent, it never rings anyway – I’m a texter. But as I checked it a call came through from my sister. Being a family who never actually phone each other (and certainly not at nine in the morning) I knew it must be important. She said our mum had phoned to tell her dad had collapsed and was being taken to Salford Royal Hospital. Mum asked her to pick me up and meet her there. So I went home, sat in my living room and waited for my lift. Lorraine Kelly was on. He’d be fine. Dad was always fine.
My sister and I laughed and joked on the car ride, we don’t panic unless we have to. It was busy in the car park and was a bit of a faff to sort the ticket out. We walked quickly to A&E but laughed again as I was pregnant and struggling to keep up. We walked to the desk and told them who we were. And then I began to know.
The obvious gentleness
The nurses were so gentle with us. One came from behind a door; “come on, girls” she said kindly and motioned for us to follow her. The sign above us in the corridor read ‘resus’ and my stomach dropped. She led us to a little room (just like you see on tv) and opened the door for us. A couple of doctors awkwardly walked out as we went in and there was my mum, broken. I remember saying, “he’s not died?” to her and her reaction told us that he had.
Where was our time to say all the things you’re meant to get time to say?
It was a blur then of crying, hugging, numbness, doctors asking questions and passing his rings to us. It was such a heavy sadness that he had gone without saying goodbye. Where was our time to say all the things you’re meant to get time to say? How could it be over just like that? Can life really change that suddenly?
It was a beautiful sunny day. Dad had been sitting in an armchair, red leather. He was quiet and felt clammy. Mum made a note to keep an eye on him. He was due at the doctors anyway in a couple of hours for some blood test results. She chatted to him about their grandchildren. She heard him suddenly make a funny noise from the kitchen and ran in to find him changing colour. Then he leant back and closed his eyes. She called 999 and performed CPR all by herself until the ambulance came. She thinks he had already gone before she even dragged him from the chair.
The shock and the jealousy
The shock of that morning has been huge. I can’t describe it to you. It’s ten months on and I still feel the shock. I get breathless and panicky. My husband has to just hold me and wait until I can find a breath again. I sob. I feel so sad at all that has been taken away. Our tight, happy family has lost so much.
This is too early. I’m not even thirty. How can I turn thirty without my dad?
I struggle with a bitterness that he has gone so soon. I wasn’t meant to lose a parent until I was at least in my fifites. This is too early. I’m not even thirty. How can I turn thirty without my dad? I see others my age walking with both their parents and I feel jealous that it can never be me.
I have had my new baby to care for, along with my toddler, so my grief has had no choice but to be shoehorned into my life whenever there is a bit of space or time. This is often when I’m driving or in the car park of the supermarket in the evenings. I think about it all and struggle that my dad has never met my baby girl. I struggle that his grandchildren won’t know him.
My sister and I feel grief on behalf of our children. We don’t have any contemporaries in the same position. We are conscious of a need to take care emotionally of our heartbroken mum. We struggle to find time to deal with our own grief and dream of freedom to travel away somewhere to sleep and think and be quiet. We are exhausted.
Now I know grief
When my dad checked out grief checked in and we have lived inside each others pockets ever since
To the outside world I’m doing great. You find that people don’t ask anymore or will ask how my mum is. Adult children get forgotten about. You’re an adult, everyone knows your parents don’t live forever. I understand.
But out of all of this has come my lesson in grief. I didn’t know grief before. When my dad checked out grief checked in and we have lived inside each others pockets ever since. It’s with me when I shower, make tea, go shopping or watch the telly. It can be kind or cruel. It goes quiet sometimes but it’s always in the background and it always, always reminds me of its still there by creeping up on me and taking me by surprise.
I am learning how to live with it, though. We are learning how to live with each other. It could be a long process but I know dad will help me from wherever he is. I know i can do him proud.
Inspired by Kate’s story? Leave a comment below or email us with your own story and we would love to share it. Remember – you are not alone.