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I've wanted to write this post for while but haven't really been sure of how to write it. But I've decided to just go ahead and do it, especially as I've been feeling a bit low the last couple of weeks so it feels like the right time to get it out.
*apologies in advance if it sounds like a bit of a brain unload*
(Also is it dad or Dad? Google doesn't seem to give a definitive answer... So I'm sticking with dad).
I lost my dad at the end of last year, and whilst nothing can prepare you for the passing of someone close to you I was utterly floored by it. I won't go into all the ins and outs of what happened, but the circumstances surrounding the event made it even more traumatic.
It definitely took a while for it all to sink in, especially as it happened at Christmas. The whole of December was a blur of either travelling to and from my sisters or being covered in glitter at work. And then, in those moments when it did hit me I felt completely overwhelmed, like I couldn't breathe and nothing would make the pain go away. If anything, seven months on its even harder to process. I think because part of me is thinking "it happened ages ago, why are you still hurting?" But then the logical part of my brain knows that is perfectly fine to not be OK. It's all a bit of a head fuck to be honest with you.
At the moment I seem to be plodding along quite nicely and then all of a sudden something will remind me of dad... a song, or someone that looks a little like him, or a scent and I feel like I'm sinking into the ground. I'm not sure if that will ever go away? I hope it will, and moments like that will be replaced with ones where I remember fond memories and fun times with him. It's easy to get frustrated that those closest to me don't understand, but I'm making a big effort to not do this, especially as the boy has been my rock through all of this. Able to let me cry and hide when I need to, but also able to see when I need to get out and do something to help my mind.
I was pretty shocked that grieving as an adult is so hard, you kind of think that because you're an adult with your own life that it will make it a bit easier. But I think the opposite is true, you don't really get much time to grieve, as life is so busy. Bereavement leave at my work is a week, and I think that's pretty standard everywhere, it just doesn't seem like very long does it? Especially as the funeral is never going to take place over that week. It's basically a week to try and get back to some sort of normally functioning human.
The guys at my work were great, asked if I was ok but didn't force a conversation about it, which was really helpful. I knew they were there if I needed them but it was nice to kind of be somewhere away from it all and just able to focus on work. Big shout out to Jade, who kind of became my sounding board throughout December, letting me offload when I needed to, and also keeping my festive spirit high. Such a babe.
It seems kind of crazy that within my close pals there are three of us that have lost a parent, it kind of helped me get through the first months too, knowing that there were people I could turn to that understood how I was feeling, and how at times I was full on hating the world. Kind of cheesy and cliche but you really do find out who your true pals are in situations like this, and mine have been the best. The boy has also been incredible, and took on the task of telling people what had happened, which really helped. I wanted people to know what had happened, but it's kind of an odd thing to start a text with. If you've lost someone I would definitely get someone to do the same. And it's ok if you don't want to respond to messages of love from people, they don't expect a response, they just want you to know they are thinking of you.
Running helped me through the first few months of grieving, it really is true that exercise is good for your mind. I was training for a half marathon (and changed the charity I was fundraising for to reflect my dad's passing) and having something else to focus on was such a help. In fact I think it helped with me actually being able to finish the thing, if it wasn't for the fact I was doing it for my dad I'm not sure I would have been able to.
I don't think anyone holds the answers as to how long it takes before you consider yourself to not be actively grieving anymore, or if that is even a thing? But for me seven months on it still feels really raw and in some ways like it isn't real. We are yet to sprinkle his ashes and I know that will be really difficult, but also kind of happy to as I think I will feel like he has finally been laid to rest. My sister had a baby four weeks ago, and I think that has brought up feelings of sadness again as I know my dad would have been absolutely besotted with little Beau, he didn't even know he was going to be a grandad. Although I look forward to telling Beau stories about fishing trips with dad and Christmas mornings with him when she is older, and continuing some of the traditions that made times like Christmas so special.
Losing someone close to you is always difficult, regardless of who it is or your age but I think the most important thing to remember, and to tell yourself in moments of darkness, is that they were loved and they continue to live on within all the people that know them and the memories that we share of them. And that is is natural to grieve, and let yourself be sad, but remember to lean on the people close to you and accept their help. And that there will be a way out of the fog, and you will be able to look back and smile and laugh when sharing memories. And don't feel guilty for doing this, you have to continue with your life, it's what the person looking down on you would want you to do. They will always be with you.