When you love your family, you expect that they will be there for you till the end, your siblings will grow old with you and your parents will die when they are over 80, hopefully of old age.
You expect your parents to be there at your graduation, your wedding, your children’s birth and to help you navigate through the mind numbing world of adulthood.
Many do not understand the luxury they have to be able to have parents that can be there through each peak point in their life and to lose them in a way that does not leave severe trauma. The are many people who cringe every time they hear ‘mothers day’ or ‘fathers day’ because it’s like shoving it in their face, the same way ‘valentines day’ is to a single person.
Now losing your parents will never be easy but it is so hard when you are young, if you are very young you may feel different or confused, as a teenager there is more trauma, as you live it; even as a young adult you still feel like your future has just been ripped from under your feet.
I was 18 when I lost my dad, suicide. I had already attended my Grandmas funeral and my great aunts, so I was not new to the world of death, this was the first death that really upset me. I did not have a good childhood and I always felt like my only family was my father and my younger brother, so losing dad was half of my family.
I had no idea that I would lose my dad young, he always spoke to me about walking me down the aisle and taking me to see the northern lights, he got so excited at the future that I had no idea that he was feeling something else inside.
It was sudden, I woke up one day and he was gone, I was never angry but I was left with so many questions, I was angry at the universe for taking away my favourite person in this world, I felt like the universes personal punching bag.
Because I was a teenager, I have missed out on so many things that dad should have been there for, it’s only been four years but he has already missed my older brothers graduation and him moving to a city, he’s missed my brothers first trips abroad and he has missed out on meeting my husband and watching us get married.
So believe me, I know the pain. I am no longer in grief but each Christmas, event or achievement that I wish I could share with my dad, it stings because sometimes I do forget that he is gone and it will all hit me again. I will just be sitting there or cleaning the kitchen and I will burst out crying because I miss him so much.
My biggest nightmare is that I dream of having a large family but that comes with the cost that I am going to have to one day tell them why they do not have a granddad, where he is and why, I don’t want to lie to them but it’s not a conversation I want to have either, though it is inevitable.
I have met other people who have lost their parents at a young age, the deaths have been for various reasons but the damage left is the same. All these people are clearly missing a piece of them, a bit of irreparable damage and you can see it in their eyes but you know what they also have in common? That they are still alive, they still live how they wish, maybe a part of them died with the death of their loved one but not fully.
There is nothing I can say that will fix the pain, frankly no one deserves to lose a loved one, we all know that people all die eventually but it is cruel to watch people die at a young age and be survived by such young children, they don’t have as much time to prepare, to say their feelings and do all those plans.
However I can say this, grief does not last forever, while you will never move on, you will learn to live again and you will learn to be happy, just don’t feel bad for feeling joy without them, they’d want you to be happy. It’s important to know that you need to grieve in your own time and way, this is something I say a lot because It is so important, don’t listen to anyone who says otherwise, there are no rules on grief.
Fate chose to take away my father but that does not mean that my life needs to be ruined because of that, it’s a little harder and has a few more hurdles but if anything, my desire to carry on my father’s legacy only pushes me even more to succeed.
I write often to help with my own feelings, it’s a form of therapy but I have learnt it helps others and I have combined it with my goal to prevent suicides and carve the world so it is more mental health friendly. So you want to know a secret? my father taught me about mental health, he prevented suicides and he also loved writing, he did poetry often.
Though I am doing all of this for both myself and those who need a friend it is also a way for me to feel closer to my father, it’s important we have something to allow us to feel close to them after death, because they are not gone, they are in your blood, your memories and in your heart.
I do not visit my father’s grave, it doesn’t help me but I will write letters to my father and then destroy them, it’s like talking to him, I also buy daffodils each year as he would cover our garden in them every Easter, it’s these little rituals that still make it feel like he is not forgotten.
You need to find your own rituals and ways to remember and continue to love your parents, it may be hard but it can be anything, from travelling, to hobbies or fulfilling a bucket list, maybe you and your parent talked about doing something together or had a joint hobby?
Bereavement is difficult and painful but if you have the right support and you make sure to talk to people and to grieve, to find ways to ease that pain, you will get through it and there is a light at the end of the tunnel.