With everything that is going on at the moment, I find myself thinking of Dad a lot. Of how lucky I feel that he isn’t here to go through this, that we don’t need to manage his daily care through this crisis and that we don’t have to say goodbye to him at a distance without being able to hug one another through the pain.
When Dad passed away it was the hardest thing I have ever had to deal with, and we had been lucky in lots of ways that we had time to come to terms with what was going to happen, had made some incredibly special memories with together in his last 18 months and were able to be there when he passed away at home. I am a positive person. I smile through tough times and try to see the good in most situations. So, when I had an underlying feeling of sadness that I couldn’t shift and an overwhelming sense of being lost and angry, it really shook my whole world as I didn’t know how to deal with those strange feelings that I couldn’t make better with a plan and some positive thoughts.
I can’t begin to imagine how so many families are feeling at the moment; losing someone you love when you can’t be with each other to say goodbye and are unable to grieve in the way that we imagined. Never before has it been so important to stay in touch and remember the grief that is with that person every minute of every day. No one expects you to make it better, they just don’t want to feel alone at the hardest time in their lives.
The best thing someone said to me was:
This is a funny one as people said some lovely things to me like, “I’m just checking in on you, there’s no need to reply, I just wanted you to know that I love you.” And “I’m here for whatever you need.” and “I know that your birthday will be hard, this year of first times will difficult and I’m thinking of you.” All those messages meant so much to me, but there are no words to make grief go away. It is a long old process and I think actually it wasn’t about anyone having the magic cure to make things better – no one could do that, and actually I didn’t want them too. All I wanted was to feel like someone cared and they were standing by my side. That they remembered that my life was forever different and that although the world keeps turning, my life was in a weird surreal bubble that I couldn’t seem to break out of. So many people didn’t know what to say that they didn’t say anything at all which I found hard to understand and at the time and it felt like they were devaluing Dad’s life and my grief. Or after the funeral appeared to think that my grieving must be over and life had moved on now. It felt to me like they’d sent the “I’m sorry” card and flowers, so the box was ticked and that they didn’t need to do any more.* I will never forget the people who did check in with me. The people who text me and called me all the time, even when I didn’t reply or pick up the phone. The people that were just there (even though they were miles away), when I needed them most. Making me feel like someone cared at the loneliest time in my life. So please, if your friend has lost someone they love, just SAY SOMETHING. Tell them that you care and keep telling them as often as you can.
*Now I am out of the grief bubble I appreciate that it wasn’t personal when I didn’t hear from some people and that life is tough for everyone, but the messages and letters and postcards and phone calls that did keep coming, really meant the world and I will forever be grateful to the people who kept me afloat when I felt like I might sink.