Trigger warning: Contains themes of heart attacks and parental death. Read the true story of one woman’s grief journey after her father’s death.
Read Time: 4 Mins
I lost my father before his time due to a sudden and unexpected heart attack in my early 20s. For me, there was no time to say goodbye or time to exchange final words. I couldn’t plan for any expected outcomes because he simply suddenly stopped existing. I left home to go out with friends and came back to a home without a father. The whole process felt uncomfortable. Not just because of the gut-wrenching grief but because of its suddenness. I often felt as though I had been robbed of any ‘what if’s’ though the way in which he passed. I didn’t have the option to save my father through medicine as there were no serious warning signs, nor could I seek out any other life saving options because I didn’t know his life was about to come to an end. I had no choice but to just accept his passing.
The first thing I wanted to do was return to normality the following day. I insisted on going out and seeing friends, even though I knew I would break down as soon as the topic was discussed. But in my mind I had to get out. The world would carry on and during that time I wanted to carry on with it as though nothing happened. Upon reflection my actions were most likely a side effect of shock and disbelief.
My initial response however was very different to my family’s. They wanted to be all together, a unit that supported each other, the only issue was I wasn’t there. Tensions began to rise as the need for my company increased and my urge to return to normal also gained momentum. My family simply couldn’t understand how I felt and viewed my
absence as more of an abandonment. This of course wasn’t true. Instead the truth was that we all were processing our grief differently. They preferred receiving emotional support from the family circle, whereas I preferred external normality. I liked that the world continued to spin, it bought a sense of stability to my life.
cried my eyes out with weeks worth of pent up sadness all coming out at once.
My initial rejective response to my father’s death however didn’t last long as the obvious absence of his presence became more apparent and funeral arrangements were organised. Even now I still believe I was in a state of shock until the night before his funeral around 2 months later, when reality hit and I realised his body would no longer exist after the funeral ended. I broke down in bed and cried my eyes out with weeks worth of pent up sadness all coming out at once. My partner at the time tried to reassure me everything was ok but I was beyond the point of consolidation.
Throughout the following months and years after my father’s death many people responded to his passing by commenting on my age, often saying I was ‘too young’ to experience this form of loss. Is there a right age in which parental loss is easier to process? Does grief have an age limit? I kept asking myself questions like these as I played with the idea of being angry at his passing.
I eventually locked myself away in a bubble and refused to get out until 4 -5 months later. By then I was set to move out into a flat and knew I couldn’t stay in an angry bubble forever. It was negatively affecting my family, my relationship and my mental health. I had to make the jump into a life with a routine, exercise, food and sleep all in equal balance.
Soon enough I began to open up and started to talk. I could enjoy going out again without the fear of meeting someone who knew my father and wanted to pass on their condolences. Life did in a way carry on but it was different and it was the difference that I needed to get used to. I could still be happy but happy in a different way. If I was enjoying an activity me and my father did together then that activity was now a form of remembrance. His life passed but his memory did not.
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