Nothing can ever prepare truly prepare you for loss, for grief, for the unfathomable depths of heartache that follow. As many people that have faced it head-on and continue to still compete in the daily battle… it doesn’t ‘get better’ but you learn to cope, you learn to live your life again.
My own story of grief has taught me about the depths of emotions more than anyone could imagine. Grief leaves you clutching on to the family and friends that are still around, even if sometimes it feels like you are drowning over and over again.
A beautiful quote I once found reads:
“Life will create chaos in our lives so that we appreciate the peaceful times and it will take those we love away from us so that we truly understand what their presence meant to us”.
So what does loss mean to me? Well, throughout my life, I have formed a strong bond with the word that is grief, I’ve lost some incredibly important people. However, each funeral and loss felt as though I understood more.
I began to feel at ease, happier knowing that my loved ones were free…especially now that Coronavirus is around!
I thought I could handle anything that life threw at me.
That was until September of 2018 came, I guess no amount of practice can prepare you for losing a parent.
At the beginning of September, my dad was diagnosed with pneumonia and within a few days, it had become so aggressive that the doctors felt it was a vital decision that he should be put into an induced coma.
It’s strange because all of the memories building up to his passing are as clear as day and yet everything that came after still seems so hazy.
He had been visiting my grandparents when he fell ill so was taken to the nearest hospital, Grimsby. My brother drove me over to see him on the 4th, as soon as he knew about the severity of the situation really.
When we went into the room, I felt as though my heart broke in an instant; torn up in front of me. I had never seen someone so unresponsive… so lifeless, and of course, this wasn’t just ‘someone’. This was my dad.
I tried to speak to him, it was so difficult. No matter how hard I tried… nothing came. Instead, I just held his hand and prayed… I prayed that he’d come back. I so desperately wanted to see that beaming smile again. I left a while after, realising that there wasn’t a quick fix.
A few days later, I received a phone call from my grandparents, “They’ve taken him off it, he’s not responding much but he’s back”. The feeling of relief was overwhelming, my dad was conscious. The tears streamed as I made plans to go and visit, I was so desperate to be by his side.
The next day I met my grandparents. It felt like a reunion. We went straight to the hospital and there he was… sat up, immediately responding to me. No more tubes. No more ventilator. After waking from a coma, it was naturally expected that his speech and awareness wouldn’t bounce back straight away. I didn’t mind. He was trying! The difference of a few days was astonishing. Finally, we could have some bonding time to catch up on what he’d missed.
Of course, this was my dad we’re talking about and naturally, he wanted to use the time with his daughter to catch up on the football. From me being a little girl, he loved to take me to games, always trying to educate me about the do’s and don’ts. I read him the match results from the newspaper. He couldn’t really process much or respond largely but he was happy to just listen to me nattering away. As I got up to leave, he gripped my hand… “I love you, Lee Lee.” I didn’t think for a minute that would be the last time that I heard him speak. My eyes misted over… “I love you Dad, See you tomorrow!” Then we left. I felt calmer when I left, feeling like things were improving and on track.
The next morning, the hospital called, they urged for me and my grandparents to get there as soon as possible. My dad had deteriorated quickly through the night. My head was spinning and my heartfelt as though it was physically sinking. When we got to the hospital, we were taken into a side room with the consultant. I was scared. I was holding my Nan, she was trembling beneath me, frail and fearful. I held her tightly and tried to stay strong.
I’d watched people have these same conversations on TV for years, there’s no preparation for it. I knew what was coming. I wanted to run away and hide. But I didn’t. I couldn’t even move.
He had been temporarily put back on to the ventilator until a decision could be agreed. They wanted to turn it off… there was no other option. It was the day that we would lose him. I felt blank. Before this point, I had never seen my granddad cry. I sat between my grandparents, attempting to console them. I couldn’t cry. I couldn’t accept that it was real. I was speaking to him the day before! I thought that if I ignored it, maybe it wouldn’t be true.
We went through to see him. I didn’t want him to be alone. It then felt like a waiting game, it was torture. I watched the loud and bubbly character that was my dad fade away in front of me. A tear rolled down his cheek and this is when we knew. He knew that it was his time. I was clutching his hand, praying for some sort of miracle.
Soon enough came the ‘death rattle’… just another thing that I wasn’t prepared for. The noise was harsh. Each breath became more distant until the nurse came and informed us. He was gone. I couldn’t believe it, 18 years… that was all that I had with him. How would I go through all the new stages of life and not be able to tell him anymore? I’d not even started uni yet. He was so proud of me.
From there I shut off. I didn’t want to exist in a world without my Dad. I would spend days in bed; numb, immobile. I barely cried… I barely had any emotion at all. My mum described me as “functioning like a robot.” Well, truthfully I didn’t feel like I was functioning at all.
At around the six month anniversary, it was almost like I was hit with every emotion all at once. Anger, resentment, hurt, despair… there were no happy feelings then and honestly, it was a dark stage in my life. I seemed to despise everyone that felt happy because I was so deeply miserable that I thought everyone should feel the same.
Therapy was an avenue that I had to try at that point. I couldn’t continue the way that I was. My friendships were suffering, my education was suffering and honestly, I was suffering. Each week, my Mum came to take me to therapy, she then sat outside the room to make sure I went in. I will always be grateful for that.
I mean honestly, therapy wasn’t hugely beneficial for me. I was tossed in with a group of people that had been labelled as ‘depressed’ but yet none shared the experience, the same journey. It felt wasted but it also provided me with the confidence that I needed to speak to people in the same boat. After all, a problem shared is a problem halved.
It has now been just over two years since without him and sometimes I still have those dark days. But since then, I have found acceptance. Not being ok is alright and not dealing with grief is perfectly normal. Reach out to people, speak to your family, your friends, seek professional advice if you need it. Don’t suffer in silence, the world isn’t against you. I wish that I would have taken that advice earlier on instead of letting grief pin me down.
You will have better days, you will find yourself again and you will make them proud.
I know that I’ll be making my Dad proud and that if he could show me that, he most definitely would.
That’s my story of loss. But even in these difficult 2 years, I’ve still made some of the best memories with the most amazing people. It’s important to carry on and make the world your oyster.
I don’t want sympathy or for anyone to feel sorry for me, I wanted to give an insight on my own experience and offer my help out to anyone else who may need it.