It is fast approaching three years since my dad died, and it is something I reflect upon often. I go through stages of reliving the moment the doctors gathered us around to tell us that there was nothing left to do. It was traumatic and shocking, yet we all agreed that it was the right decision to switch off the machine keeping him alive. On that day a marker was placed in my life – a marker that changed me, and forced me to take a new perspective. I have a few of these markers in my life – one that came soon after becoming a parent for the first time, and another that appeared when I was 15. Moments that had a life-changing impact on me.
Recently I feel like I’ve reached a new stage, and I finally feel ok about having a photograph of my dad displayed in our home. It feels like a big step for me, and one that has crept up on me. I had a photograph in our old house, but it was always kept covered, so that I could choose when to look at his face. Isn’t it strange how our brains work? I feel really excited about having my dad in our home – I want my boys to remember what he looks like, feel like they know him and I want to talk about him.
Losing my dad has been freeing in lots of ways. It has made me realise who and what is most important in my life, and allowed me to let go of lots of things. I rarely feel angry or bitter that my dad was taken so suddenly – I have always felt very at peace with it, but death absolutely has a way of changing you, and here are a few things that have changed within me:
I don’t put pressure on myself to make a special effort with people
This is something that changed quite quickly after losing my dad. His death made me cherish the people that I love the most, and let go of others. Death is an opportunity for people to reach out and show that they care. My dad’s death made it really easy for me to decipher who to let go of, and it happened very naturally. I used to fret about making people feel special, or welcome, or loved above my own enjoyment, but this is more balanced now. I don’t feel responsible for making sure that people have a good time, or feel guilty for not maintaining one way relationships – I feel better for letting them go. In the beginning I turned very inwards, but I can now think outside my own family again, which is something I really wanted back.
Understand that there are people that will never get you and be ok with it
I think that I’ve never worried too much about what people think of me – of course I have had moments when I’ve struggled. I try very hard to be at peace with my motives, and I also try to be very aware of my feelings and what to do with them. Over the last few years I’ve realised that some people will only ever see ‘their version of you’, not what is actually there, and I’ve accepted it. I don’t try and change peoples’ minds – I leave them to make assumptions. In the past I may have worried about how I came across, or feel the need to justify, but I’m ok with people just seeing a tiny part of the story and making incorrect judgements, or sweeping comments. It makes for good humour when people say things that are so far off the mark, and I can laugh about it now.
I’m someone who doesn’t like to create a fuss, and am usually more than happy to go with the flow. However, sometimes I would go with the flow, when I really wasn’t happy with it. I’ve taken more control over this, and am more likely to say when I’m unhappy with something. There are definitely times when it’s unnecessary to say something, but then there are times when it is absolutely worth saying something – and I do. I’ve realised that it can improve your life, your relationships and make you happier.