This is a very different post from me today, I will be talking about how I’ve learnt to cope with the death of my Dad, after sadly losing him on New Year’s Day this year.
I don’t usually write personal pieces, but after experiencing such tragedy and reaching out to the Internet for help myself, I hope that sharing my experience might help others in a similar situation. I wont go into detail with regards to my Dad’s illness, I’d like to keep that private, but I will talk you through my experience and what I have learnt.
That dreaded moment
My Dad, Howard Davies, no longer exists in the world.
How is that possible? How can he be here one minute and not the next? There obviously isn’t a ‘God’, no God would let this happen! I hope he’s not in pain now. How will I cope without him? Has he gone to heaven? Does heaven even exist? How will I tell family members? Who do I need to tell? Is this really happening? He’s not really gone, any minute now he will wake up and this will be a bad dream!
Those are just a few of the many thoughts and questions that whirled through my mind constantly during this difficult time. It surprised me that I didn’t drop dead myself, because believe me I felt like I wanted or was going to at times. It’s just amazing how the human body can adapt and change to deal with extreme stress.
Looking back, it’s hard to remember much in detail. I went into autopilot and was just ‘getting things done’. There is so much to do after a person’s death, and having never experienced the situation before, my eyes were well and truly opened. It felt like taking on a new high-pressured job, whilst feeling the worst I had ever felt in my life.
From running around frantically, to sitting there staring at the wall not knowing what to do. I felt denial, sadness, anger, anxiety, nervous-yet-hysterical laughter. You name the emotion; I felt it.
Let yourself grieve
I found this very hard, and if I’m honest I still do. Initially I felt like I couldn’t stop and feel sad, or take time to cry, as I wasn’t sure I would ever manage to stop if I started, and I needed to get things done. My sister, Natalie, and I wanted the funeral to be the best send off it could be, the last farewell to our Dad aka “Big H”.
Nearly 4 months on, and I’m slowly learning to let myself grieve. It’s ok to grieve. It’s actually really important to take that time for yourself; to think and just ‘be’. If you don’t acknowledge your feelings you could end up ill. There is no set timeline for this; it could take weeks, months or even years to go through the grieving process. Everybody handles it differently.
Everybody grieves differently
This is absolutely true. Do not compare yourself to anybody else. You are an individual and you have to do whatever YOU need to do to cope. Some people may sit and cry for days or weeks and not leave the house. Others may feel like they can’t cry or be at home and find comfort being elsewhere and distracted.
Try not to feel like you should be acting, or not acting, in a certain way and ignore any thoughts of people judging you on your reaction. I found that I couldn’t cry for a time and felt incredible guilty. I realise now that this doesn’t mean that I don’t care as much, or that I didn’t love my Dad as much as others, it means that I am my own personality and have my own way of coping. I say go with whatever feels natural for you to do at the time and don’t apologise for it.
Seek help if you need it
If you feel like you are unable to cope alone, please remember that there are lots of support services out there that you can access locally. Ask a friend for help and support, search the Internet, read books at the library or speak to your GP about bereavement counselling. Just remember that you are not alone and help is out there if you need it.
Hold on to the good times
It’s easy to forget all the good times you have experienced when dealing with a death and feeling ‘in crisis’. Emotions, feeling and circumstance can take over and blur your memories. As time goes on, this will get easier and you can start to remember and cherish the great times you spent together.
If I’m ever feeling sad, I always remind myself what sarcastic things my dad would have said to me if he could see me sitting here moping around. “You soft bleeder”, “sling it”, “go and get blind drunk with your friends” to quote a few! There are probably a few more insulting ones that aren’t appropriate to post online!
Remembering these things about my Dad’s very unique personality is what gets me through. Together we grew, we laughed, we cried, we travelled, we ate junk food, watched crappy TV, had far too many pints at the pub, the list goes on… these are the moments that I will remember for the rest of my life.