The Grief of the First Christmas Without My Dad
If you have experienced emotional abuse, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.
As I write this I am typing into a text box that used to be my dad’s mobile number — a number I can never call again. I’ll never see a text from him checking up on me. I’ll never see “Daddy” with a little heart beside his name and his face popping up when he called me ever again. All difficult pills to swallow.
Bereavement is difficult enough without having very poor mental health adding to it. What is worse is my first holiday without a loved one, and that is you, dad. I wish that this was going to be a write up that would help others, and say that everything will be fine over time. Although time does not heal all wounds, talking to people you can trust can.
I want to give you a little background on my dad and I. We were, and still are basically, the same person. We had the same taste in music, we had the same personality and we are both emotional people. My dad fell ill on Feb. 25. This wasn’t ordinary, we found out he was actually ill for 10 years and no one had told him. When he was told alongside my mum, his world and my family’s came crashing down. The next few months that my dad had left were truly and deeply upsetting.
He had sclerosis of the liver. He had stopped drinking and quit smoking years ago. He cut out sweets, which with his addictive personality was hard, and he started going to the gym. We went to the gym as a family. I always had body image issues because of bullies in school, and even random people shouting abusive comments on the streets. It got to the point where my dad was encouraging me to go, even when I told him I didn’t want to because the anxiety and depression I had was too much on that particular day.
I watched my caring, smart and brave father battle from February to July 18 when he passed away. I could go into the mistreatment he received and everything related to that, but it causes me deep anger. It is traumatic when someone passes away when it could have been avoided. I went through, and still am, going through so many emotions. The usual stages of grief do not apply, they are there but this feels more like unnecessary pain because it could have been avoided.
Grief can make you feel anger, denial, acceptance, depression and will make you want to bargain with her. The reason I haven’t put these in order is because it just doesn’t happen like that. You can go through anger one day, then acceptance the next. You could feel all five stages in one day, you will know yourself from your own experience.
Here is how it was for me.
My father passed away in his and my mum’s home. He had finally got to sleep as the fluid on the brain from the sclerosis just changed him so much. He was agitated and scared to go to sleep. It got to late at night, possibly the morning and my partner took us home to rest. We lived just down the road from my mums house, about a three minute drive. When we got home we immediately fell asleep. We had been back and forth to the hospital for four to five months and were constantly exhausted. I was awoke by my phone ringing around 1:30 – 2 a.m. I have repressed some details because writing this now I can’t remember who actually phoned me. Whoever did, they wouldn’t tell me on the phone why I needed to come up to the house right away, but I had a knack for sensing bad things. With my heart feeling like someone was squeezing it hard and my stomach in knots, I woke up my partner and we drove up. I got into the house and I just knew. My mum, brother and sister were there. They were all much calmer than I was. Maybe it’s because they were there when he passed, he just looked like he was sleeping. For me, already damaged from my own past I was not calm, at all. I just screamed, “No!” No, followed by punching the wall (because I have anger issues), uncontrollable crying, difficultly breathing, eventual panic attack and to finish off a lot of vomiting. I was so very angry from the get go. Instant regret and self blame set in, “Why did I go home?!” over and over again.
I would like to get back to the point of this article that seems more of a vent of my emotions, rather than help for others which I want to help. Maybe like me knowing someone has been through what you are going through makes you feel like you are not alone.
Christmas without someone you loved dearly is numbing. It’s hard not to feel angry at the world for continuing on with their lives in general when this happens, but a holiday like Christmas feels like salt in the wound. Feeling anger at those being happy and festive when your loved one isn’t here anymore to enjoy the holiday with or any other day ever again. It’s seeing adverts on TV of families together and breaking down in floods of tears because everything is just a constant reminder that you don’t have that anymore. These are all feelings that no one ever wants to feel and then when the guilt of feeling that way toward others sets in you feel worse.
I can’t speak for everyone, because it affects everyone differently, just like anything else.
The only bit of comfort I have, and I hope anyone else suffering bereavement right now has, is the good times I had with my dad. It sounds cliché but hanging onto the happy memories does help ease a little bit of the pain. I look at photos of my dad every day and my partner and I talk about him every day. He was some character and the most loving person I ever knew.
Thank you for taking the time to read this.
Dad, I love and miss you so very much.
Photo credit: finwal/Getty Images