Grief – The Next Phase

A story of learning to live with grief

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A few weeks ago now, I wrote a very personal and intimate account of my experience of grief thus far. I am drawn to writing about it again which, I hope in some way, means that I am learning to live with it.

When my father first passed away, I was very protective of my grief. It was private, not for public display and somehow, it was the last living thing left between me and my dad. I remember not wanting to organise the funeral – my mum and sisters did a wonderful job of that. They informed me but didn’t nag or expect anything and I think they just knew I was done. I had done everything within my power and yet the inevitable still happened, he died and my heart broke, as did others.

I dreaded the funeral, the thought of my grief being on public display, seeing my larger than life dad trapped in a box, but most of all, seeing just how many people were going to be there and so desperately needing to crawl into bed and pretend it wasn’t happening. But it was and he needed his four girls to be together, just as we needed to be together to.

During the first few days after his death, I took great comfort in writing to him – reverting to a child writing to her imaginary friend who only existed in her mind. I wanted one of those letters to be read to him at the funeral. I am very spiritual and believe that although our bodies become old and battered, our soul is eternal and will always go on. Based on this logic, I knew my dad was somewhere but I didn’t know where or in what form. I guess having the letter read at his funeral was a contingency, just in case he turned up. I wanted him to hear my words. Sadly, I was in no fit state to read it but Mr. D read it on my behalf – beautifully and with the respect befitting my dad – thank you so very much for that Mr. D.

The last words that I said to my dad before he withdrew from his conscious form were “I’ll find you, don’t worry, no matter where you go, I’ll find you” and he replied “I know you will”. I’m still looking, sometimes I think I have seen him in my dreams or felt him at a point in time. In all honestly I don’t know if I have or not, but my belief in being able to, is a fundamental part of who I am.

I wanted to share the letter I wrote to my dad for his funeral. I’m not sure why, maybe it keeps him alive for me as his death moves further into the past. Or maybe this is just another step, in learning to live with the loss of a loved one.

Who really knows, for any of your out there going through grief, I hope in some small way this helps x

Dear Dad

Thank you so very much for being a great dad. For giving me the strength to be who I am, for picking me up when life got tough, for teaching me love and kindness and for being my best friend.

When you got ill and we realized that we couldn’t win the battle I promised you 2 things: I would try my hardest to make sure that you had the best death possible in the circumstances and that, no matter where you went afterwards, I would always be with you. It’s difficult to judge how I did on the first promise but I really did try my best and, I so hope it was enough for you. As for the second, I will always look for you, everyday of my life.

We have had a ball dad, we have danced, laughed, drank and consumed life to the full. I know that you have taken great delight in our eccentricities and spent many an hour simply watching our fun loving antics, with a knowing smile upon your face and a genuine happiness within your soul.

Dad, I wish it could have lasted forever but sadly all good things come to an end. The memories you have left me with will keep me going to the end of my days and I will try my hardest to give my children the love and kindness you gave to me.

To finish my goodbye letter, I found a poem which I think you will agree just about sums it all up:

He Only Takes the Best
God saw that he was getting tired,
A cure was not to be.
So, He put His arms around him
and whispered, “Come with Me.”
With tearful eyes, we watched him suffer,
And saw him fade away.
Although we loved him dearly,
We could not make him stay.
A golden heart stopped beating,
Hard working hands to rest.
God broke our hearts to prove to us
He only takes “the best”.

Dad, thank you for my lovely life with you and for being my lifeboat no matter where I was.

All that is now left to say is good night, god bless and see you in the morning.

All my love
Nik x

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