Taking a little break from all of the bookish content to talk about why I went on a three month hiatus.
On Monday 13th May at 7pm, I lost my dad. He passed away during an afternoon nap from an internal haemorrhage, caused by a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurism (AAA). He was 66. Since then, my world has been a strange place to be.
Nothing was important, I felt numb. I stopped reading, stopped eating, didn’t want to talk to anyone or have people over at my house. I cried all the time. Lots of tears, big heaving sobs that I’ve never heard myself make before. Cuddled up with his dressing gown that still smelt of him. Everything of his felt precious. His hairbrush, old clothes, worn out shoes – it hurt to have to throw things away. I kept a suitcase and a box of the most meaningful bits. The jumper with the buttons that I always thought looked like chocolate. His glasses (the bendable kind as we lost count of how many times I broke them as a child). His wedding ring that now sits pride of place on my desk. But it’s not enough, nothing fills the hole that he left behind.
Grief is a funny thing. As someone who was lucky enough to have only lost people that weren’t everyday figures in my life (Granddad at age two and Gran at eleven) the time following losing my dad was tricky to navigate. Still is. There are days where I can go to work and put everything else to the back of my mind for a few hours. And then there are days when all of a sudden I remember everything. Finding him that evening and holding his hand, having to plan his funeral and wake, visiting him in the chapel of rest. Something sparks me off and I feel the ice cold punch to the gut that is knowing that I’ll never see him again, never talk to him again. The knowledge that we didn’t get to say goodbye. From what I’ve read, that doesn’t ever go away.
Grief can be difficult to navigate and, while I am definitely no expert, is very personal. There’s no right way to grieve the loss of someone you love and there are good days and bad days. Personally, my days got very dark for a while and I saw no reason to still be here. What was the point? There was now a hole in my heart that I couldn’t imagine filling. But I know that there is nothing that my dad would want less than for me to follow him. I’m lucky to have my mom and my brother, and supportive friends who helped me through the funeral and continue to check in with me. I know that putting my best foot forward and living a life that would make him proud is what happens next. He was one of my biggest champions, no matter how small the victory and often told me he had no worries when it came to me and the life that lay ahead. I try and think of that when I’m unsure of something or I have a bad day which helps.
Despite not feeling particularly lucky right now, I know I am to have had a dad like him. I genuinely could not have asked for better. I miss him every day and will for the rest of my life. But my children will know his name, his face, his stories, almost as well as if he were still with us. I will make sure of that. Makes me think of this quote:
Do you not know that a man is not dead while his name is still spoken?Terry Prachett
I’m going to leave this with a message to anyone who is experiencing something similar:
Grief is personal and often times confusing. It jumps on you at funny times and impacts everyone differently. Take it at your own pace. Never be afraid or ashamed to ask for help. Take all of the time you need. If you need time away from everything, that’s fine. If it’s easier for you to be occupied by going back to work, do it. If that’s too difficult and you need time off, that’s ok too. You might find having a cry makes you feel a little bit better. You might find that it makes you feel worse. This experience is difficult to navigate – find out what works for you and go with it. No one can tell you how you should be feeling. There will be days when you feel ok yet cry yourself to sleep at night. Days when you feel guilty for putting one foot in front of the other. It’s normal. I can’t tell you that the pain gets easier to bear or that you’ll never cry about it again, but things settle at some point and you live on for the person you lost. I send you all of the love in the world during this awful time and wish that you start to see some sort of light at the end of the tunnel.
The reality is that you will grieve forever. You will not ‘get over’ the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it. You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same nor would you want to.– Elizabeth Kubler-Ross and David Kessler