Life is full of experiences, and with those experiences come feelings. Feelings are always present, they just come, and it’s what we do with those feelings that make us individuals. 2016 has been a year of new experiences and feelings. If you would have told me a year ago that my dad wouldn’t be here next Christmas, I would have responded with: “But he looks after himself”, “He doesn’t even take one tablet”, “He’s got eleven children”, “He’s too busy to die!”
These things make you wobble, and make you feel unsteady. On the surface I am absolutely fine, I feel balanced and life with three young children has to go on. The best way I can describe it, is that my life is a ball of light and now there is an emptiness where my dad was. Often that emptiness flickers with light, but I desperately want to get that light shining brightly again. Not a flicker, a beacon. Time will have a lot to do with it, I think. It may seem an odd thing to write about at this time of year, but it’s very much on my mind, and I thought I would share a few thoughts.
It know it sounds ridiculous that my dad died, and I feel annoyed. Not angry, or bitter – just annoyed. This is the main feeling that prevents me from having any photos of my dad in our home. I don’t want to look at his face and feel annoyed. I want to look at his face and feel gratitude for him, and all that he is. I know this will come, and I look forward to it. As soon as my grandparents died, I loved (and still love) having their faces on show in our home. I love greeting them as I’m doing jobs, and thinking about what I loved about them. I know exactly where their faces are when I need them.
I also feel annoyed when people take their parents for granted, or don’t appreciate them. I felt really annoyed when Jared hadn’t bought his dad a birthday present on time. I would love to buy my dad a birthday present, and I know it would have been on time. Of course, I recognise that feeling annoyed about these things is silly. My dad dying won’t make people appreciate their own parents more, and Jared not getting a present on time is irrelevant.
I feel sad that my children won’t get to know my dad like Jared and I did. Yes, you can tell somebody about someone, but it’s not the same as knowing them, being with them and interacting with them. I’m lucky that my dad wrote a journal almost every day since his mid-twenties. He got them typed up, printed into nine volumes and we all have a set. He felt strongly that this was something he was supposed to do, and now I couldn’t be more grateful. During those first few days after he passed, lots of us sat around reading them and sharing experiences from them.
Strangely I very rarely feel sadness for me. The person I feel most sadness for is my mum. All those hopes and dreams you share with someone, are gone. Not gone, I suppose. Just different, new and more lonely. I also feel so much sadness for my younger siblings. I had my dad at my wedding and he met some of my children. They don’t have that. My youngest brother hasn’t finished school yet, and to me that is just so sad.
Getting more worried about things
‘Worrier’ would never come under a description of me. I don’t worry about anything much at all, unless it’s something really serious, or if I think I’ve accidentally hurt someone’s feelings. I don’t dwell on things, and hoping for the best comes naturally to me. Since my dad passed I definitely worry more than I used to, and I’m a safer driver too. I don’t enjoy flying like I used to, I worry about Jared’s safety, thought processes are longer and there is often a ‘what if’ that was never there before. Sometimes the future seems uncertain, and the excitement of planning our lives together seems a little tarnished – like I’m scared to dream big, in case circumstances beyond my control take them away.
Again I recognise that these feelings are there, and I try very hard to ignore them. There are too many places I want to go, things I want to see and do!
Being a bit more attached
This goes along with worrying more. I feel like I’ve attached myself to Jared and the boys more. I have always liked being together, but I feel even more precious about spending time together now. The boys may not remember what I say to them, but they may just remember the times I held them close, and they knew things would be ok. I like being in the house more than I used to, and I like to text Jared when he’s out late to see where he is. There is a neediness that has never been before. I cringe at the thought that I am needy, or a bit clingy, because it is not me at all, but I have definitely found myself drifting there, and I have to make sure I get a reality check. Perhaps a little more vulnerable, and I don’t like it.
The sparkle has gone from special events
I know this sparkle will return, but for now (for me) the sparkle has most definitely gone from family get togethers, special events and traditions. It’s still very early days and we will have to find a new way of celebrating things, things will (and are) a little different. I have always looked forward to Christmas, going to my parents house for the weekend, or a family holiday, but now there is emptiness attached to them. There is a very small part of me that doesn’t want to go home for Christmas, or stay at my parents house for a few days. I don’t like that he’s not around, and I catch myself imaging that he’ll come out of hiding and just say: “Joke’s over” – not a very funny one, that’s for sure!
I’m very much looking forward to Christmas. There’s nothing more I love than being with my family. Things will just be different, quieter and it all feels very new.
I get the “learning a new way” of doing things as it feels empty. I have felt like that for 2 years and only now am beginning to feel okay with how life feels after a big loss.
I obviously can’t begin to imagine what you all feel losing Dad, its different for each person that knew him, I have always liked the ripple analogy…it hits the ones closest the most and then ripples out, but it most definitely isn’t the same and when you are such a great individual you are bound to leave a hole! It is a blessing you have such a great husband, mum and siblings that can all help one another navigate through the initial shock and sadness of it all. It really is early days and it would be weird for it not to change you in some way..there was the Esther before and the Esther after losing her father, and its okay that you are more needy or protective, life has made you question things that you didn’t before xx Love you x
Thanks Mary and great analogy. What a few years hey? x
Thank you for writing this, it has made me think about not taking my own parents for granted, I needed a reminder. I’m so sorry for your loss, it sounds like you are coping so incredibly well whilst still allowing yourself to grieve. I hope you still manage to get some enjoyment from Christmas with your beautiful familiy.
Thank you so much for your kind words Nat. You lovely, lovely person xx
You inspire me, Est.
Oh Zo! That means a lot my sweet x