I lost my Dad, well I guess it is now technically exactly 2 months ago… On the 11th of February… Pretty sure he was hiding his illness for quite a while but it was only about 3 ½ weeks before he went that I got the phone call from my mum that he was being rushed into hospital with breathing difficulties. We assumed it was pneumonia or something but no. Our worst possible fear had happened. 20 years after beating it, that dreaded lymphoma was back.
Mum was with him every day in hospital, I visited too, all but I think maybe 2 days… We stayed a few of his worst nights too…
But the moment that my mind likes to recall almost every time I’m alone, when no one’s talking to me… Or randomly mid conversation, when someone mentions their Dad, when my kids talk about Grandad (either my Dad or my husband’s) when something reminds me of him… If I’m in a good place mentally, I’ll think of one of his silly jokes or him speaking passionately about whatever interest was his focus at the time, electronics, history, mythology, language…
But more often than not its his final moments and just after that literally haunt me. My mum had stepped out of the room to go to the toilet. I had been sitting by his bed but I felt this pull to stand up. So I was stood there beside him, talking to him, telling him all those things I always should have said. How much I loved him. How very important he was, how proud I was to have him as my dad and how sorry I was for not showing any of those things very well… Then everything stopped. Like the universe held its breath for a second… Or an eternity… Then it exhaled and I realised he was gone… And I’ll admit it, I wailed, I begged him not to go, to wait for mum… Then just repeatedly told him I loved him and mum loved him… Then mum came back and I saw her whole world fall out from under her feet… I can’t stop hearing her… Seeing her pinching herself to try and wake up from the nightmare… Seeing him so completely still and thin and wrong…
I don’t know where I’m going with this. I just can’t sleep. Feeling a lot of regret, like I’ve massively let them both down. Especially my mum because I promised him I’d do everything I could to make sure she’s ok… But I’m just not strong enough. I try, but I don’t know how to be enough…
Sorry for the stream of consciousness, I have ADHD… And really should try to sleep.
I’m just guessing but perhaps this is a normal way of our minds coping or trying to accept or understand what has happened. My husband died driving my car, I have the dashcam footage, no sound thank goodness, but it shows when he fainted and had a heart attack by the way the car wanders across the motorway and where I took control. I have felt the need to watch it several times, it’s traumatic yet still I watch it. I think about those moments in my head and I relive every second, it took one minute for my husband to die in front of me. Why do I keep playing it over in my mind? Have you spoken to anyone about how you feel, other than here. Members of your family? Does your mum know how you feel?
I’m part of the Online Community team and I can see that you are new to the community - thank you for reaching out and bravely sharing your experience. I’m so sorry to hear about your Dad. It’s normal to replay your loved one’s final moments, and to feel worried we are not supporting our family enough. You are doing the best you can, so please try to be gentle with yourself.
Most community members have sadly experienced the death of a loved one and so will understand some of what you are going through.
I’m sure someone will be along to offer their support, but I wanted to share a few Sue Ryder resources with you that might be helpful.
Our Grief Guide self-help platform which has information, resources and advice to help you through your grief
Our Grief Coach text service, which sends you personalised text support via SMS
Honestly I feel like I can’t remember anything about my mum other than her face in the moments up to and after her death. My dad is the same. Like your dad, my mum passed when my brother went to the toilet.
I just keep telling myself that the image of her like that won’t last forever in my head and I’ll soon be able to remember her as she was before she was ill.
As painful as it is, I keep looking at photos of her and I’m finding that helps to remind me of how she was before rather than the horrendous flashbacks of us in that room.
I am trying really hard to focus on the happy memories. It’s fine when I’m at home or at my mum’s because at home I’ve got loads of nice photos of him and of us together. At mums she’s obviously got all their albums but also we’re putting together a scrap book of loads of photos and happy memories…
It’s the other times that are extra hard like at work or even occasionally when I’m driving… I’m thinking of getting a really daft memorial tattoo that represents one of my happiest memories of him. Hoping that if I have that, when I have a bad moment it can remind me of the silly pranks he used to play and jokes he used to tell… Dunno if it’ll help or make things worse… Not gonna jump into anything just yet.