“I think the hardest part of losing someone isn’t having to say goodbye, but rather learning to live without them. Always trying to fill the void, the emptiness that’s left inside your heart when they go”
I was twenty-one years old when I lost my dad. I remember that day like it was yesterday. For me personally, I feel like I had the chance to prepare for my dad’s death. He was diagnosed with Glioblastoma Multiforme (grade four brain tumour) back in 2012. It happened very suddenly, he had a fall and admitted himself into A&E because he couldn’t speak, and he had lost mobility in the left side of his body. I remember being at the hospital and trying to prepare myself for the worst because I had this terrible feeling in my stomach, but I didn’t ever think a doctor would be telling me that my dad had terminal cancer and has only 3 months to live, he was only young.
The next few months after diagnoses are a blur, I kept thinking to myself ‘no this can’t be happening’ and tried to prepare myself for his death by looking at end of life forum’s, I was trying to prepare myself for a situation that I had never guessed I would be in. We left London and moved back to his hometown in Ireland where I looked after my dad. As hard as it was I would do it all over again, it just broke me to see his health deteriorate seeming as he was a healthy hard-working man. He was stripped of absolutely everything due to this cancer, it was tough to watch, and it breaks my heart to imagine how he must have felt. When I learnt that it was time to finally let go it was an overwhelming feeling of being scared, sad and not wanting him to be in pain. At the time of my father’s passing nurses came into the room and prayed for him, it was so comforting to me and he passed away peacefully on December 28th, 2012.
After dad passed I became a part of this grieving society that I didn’t even know existed. This world felt empty and I felt like no one around me understood what I was going through. Some days I felt so low and lonely, sometimes I wouldn’t want to get up and sometimes I couldn’t get motivated. There were even times when I questioned myself for grieving ‘too much’. I just became unsure about life and I started to question myself a lot and I really realized I was alone in the world now. Sure, I had experienced loss in life before, but never with someone that I depended on so much. My dad was literally my best friend, I was a daddy’s girl. I got on his nerves, he got on mine, but he was the most kind, caring beautiful soul and you could ask anyone about him and that is how they would describe my dad.
The times that are the hardest are birthday’s, anniversary’s, Father’s Day and Christmas. They just get harder every year, the one person I would love to spend it with and I can’t see them or hear their voice. Sometimes, I get frustrated that I can’t remember what he sounds like and I feel like I am almost forgetting him, it’s hard.
I think it’s important to recognize that there is no right or wrong way to grieve, it’s simply a process we all must go through some day, just some have got to face it sooner than others. With grief each journey is unique but being more open about our experiences and how it effects our lives is key to understanding that you are not alone. To anyone reading this that is dealing with grief, there will be good days and bad days, don’t suppress your feelings and be more open with the people around you. There are different types of support out there that will be beneficial for you such as counselling, helplines and support groups. You are not alone.
If I could pass some of the best advice I have received whilst grieving was to get everything that reminds me of dad and to put it in a memory box, this piece of advice really has helped me because when I do have my down days I have a look in my memory box and there are some really special memories in there that make me smile and it gives me the chance to have a cry when I need to. What also gets me through grief is knowing that he’s still looking after me from up above and that really is my main comfort. I get little signs of his presence all the time, but I suppose it what you believe in gets you through it.
Since losing dad I have changed so much as a person! I am so proud of the person I am today, I feel like I am empathetic towards the world now and I am just a more caring soul who strives to do everything in life for my dad. I remember he told me to go to university when he was alive, I am now studying my masters, I try and do everything for him. It makes me sad when I think about having kids and getting married, he would have been such a good granddad, but I will make sure my children know everything about him.
I will be forever grateful to my family and the staff at Kanturk hospital, they helped me tremendously throughout it all and I even got to celebrate my twenty-first birthday in Kanturk hospital which was such a special moment for me. I will never forget that day and it will always be a birthday that can’t be topped!