Father’s Day when you’ve lost a sibling

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In this beautiful blog, Elizabeth shares a different perspective on Father’s Day – what it’s like when you’ve lost a sibling and your dad is grieving too.

When my youngest sister died suddenly, the emptiness caused by her loss spread through my family, leaving behind fragments of what used to be. One of those things was Father’s Day. It was a day that used to be filled with “Best Dad” mugs and video game t-shirts, the same games my two sisters and I had spent our childhoods playing. How we patiently shared our two controllers between the three of us, because there were three of us.

After my sister passed my parents decided to stop celebrating both Father’s and Mother’s Day – the days we once celebrated had become an all too great reminder of her loss. And so I did my best to hide from the reminders, putting those days and memories out of my mind.

Yet each year it comes around, as holidays are want to do, and I’m reminded again not just of my sister’s loss, but of the family I once had. Of course, when my sister died we didn’t stop being just as close, but where there once were five there now is four. An empty space on the dinner table that symbolises so much more.

I long for the normality I had always known, a time when I didn’t opt out of Father’s Day promotional emails

It is strange how different those seasonal aisles in supermarkets feel now. They are filled with promotional stands loaded up with the Father’s Day gifts I once glanced at, but now seem to be all I can see. I long for the normality I had always known, a time when I didn’t opt out of Father’s Day promotional emails. A time when I bought a new mug to add to my dad’s already overflowing collection.

I long for a time when my life didn’t fit into before and after her, a time when I couldn’t imagine ever losing her, a time which now feels like a lifetime ago.

A time for remembrance

Although this time of year as with all family-focused holidays is hard for me, it is also a time of remembrance. When I began my grief journey I never thought I could remember my sister without fighting back tears, but over time I learnt that I could. I remember the first time I saw something that I knew she would like, and instead of feeling sad she couldn’t experience it, I smiled knowing that parts of her, of the things she loved, still lived on in my life.

There will always be a Father’s Day card missing on the mantle

Underneath all the pain and loss I feel around this time of year, there are memories that still live on, memories that I wouldn’t give up for anything. Perhaps over time Father’s Day will change for me and it will be a time to look back on happy memories and feel grateful more than I feel sad. However for now, it’s a stark reminder on every corner, television ad, social media page, of a celebration my father once loved to be a part of, and the reason why he doesn’t celebrate it anymore.

As Father’s Day draws near once more, I am reminded of all the good memories, but memories I cannot relive free from the pain of her loss. The amazing dad we always celebrated is still just the same, a father to three regardless. Yet my heart will always ache for what we had, and even if my parents do decide to celebrate these holidays once more, there will always be a Father’s Day card missing on the mantle.

Elizabeth Curtis

We’re always looking for new perspectives on grief to share. If you’d like to write a blog, please email blog@letstalkaboutloss.org