Clichés coming true in grief

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Amy’s dad died two years ago and she’s written this beautiful post all about clichés in grief, and how sometimes they do just come true…

When someone dies, all the clichés come true.

Have you ever wondered who buys those little signs, usually found in garden centres or overpriced gift shops? You know, the ones which say ‘live, laugh, love’ or ‘friends are the sunshine of life’ or ‘life is too short, buy the dress’. Me too, until my dad died.

You see, when someone you love dies, all the clichés come true.

My dad, Adam, died two years ago after a three-month fight with bowel cancer. It was quick, it was grim, and it was utterly heart-breaking.

The day he told me his cancer was incurable, we were sat on my bed in my childhood bedroom. A place of bedtime stories, of cuddles, of teenage tantrums. In that moment I regressed; I’m not ashamed to say that I howled, I lashed out, I kicked the door, screaming, swearing, punching at the walls, sobbing that we were going to lose him. That he wouldn’t see me get married, have children, that he wouldn’t be there for anything that the future held. Now, two years on, those thoughts still make the tears spill over.

But I love you

Once I had exhausted myself, we sat staring at each other, and all I could manage to say was ‘but I love you.’ And he wonderfully said back ‘I know, I love you, and how brilliant is that? We can part, when we have to, safe in the knowledge that there are no regrets and no doubt. That we both love each other. All you need is love.’ And it really is. However much my heart aches with the loss, I know I could never have done more, and he never needed to do more, we loved each other. There is a great sense of peace in this.

After that, everywhere I looked, those age-old clichés we roll our eyes at just started making sense.

All the clichés came true

I really did ‘find out who my friends are’. Incidentally, they are not the person who compares your dad’s impending death to their dog being put down (I know!).

They are in fact the friend who lets you get incredibly drunk and then sits on the bathroom floor with you whilst you sob and throw up your chips. They are the friend who cries with you and tells you they loved him too. They are the friend who talks about him every time they see you and they are the friend who tells you they are proud of you on Father’s Day.

You decide that life really is ‘too short’ to worry about the small stuff. When you lose someone, you assume a sort of fearlessness, the worst thing that could happen, has happened, and you realise you really can deal with anything. I am still learning to find this empowering, rather than unsettling, but I’m getting there.

There are so many more, the best things in life really are free and laughter is absolutely the best medicine.

My personal favourite?

This too shall pass.

Don’t buy the wall hanging, but do take comfort in the clichés: they were written by someone who knows.

Amy Nagy

Follow Amy on Twitter: @amygracenagy