September 15th will be ten months since my dad died. It also happens to be one year since being informed that dad had terminal cancer. In the morning everything seemed normal and by 6pm that evening it felt like the world had ended. Life completley and irreversibly changed.
I still feel like I’m reeling from my father’s death. I miss him so much. In some ways it doesn’t feel real that he’s gone and other times it feels like he’s been gone forever. I accept the daily sadness but the intense grief that can knock me off my feet still strikes at various points throughout the day. Life has lost most of its meaning and the joy isn’t there like it once was. I struggle to plan or get excited about anything and I feel like i am just going through the motions. I have taken on more and more responsibility with supporting my mum and everything feels like an uphill slog.
I have been worried about the change of seasons and this time of year coming around. In many ways I feel stuck in the period of September to November 2022. Dad was diagnosed on 15th September and he died on 15th November. Apart from time spent with my precious dad the 8 weeks we had together after diagnosis was often sad and traumatic due to the cancer rapidly taking over.
I feel like I’m reliving it all over again. I can vividly remember every detail, dates of appointments, conversations, people’s moods. I’m not sure if it’s because I knew our time was limited or if it is the trauma of knowing and watching your parent die but it’s like a series of flashbulb memories in slow motion.
I feel worried about the next few months. Everything is always a reminder that dad’s not here but this time of year the reminders feel more painful and heightened. My dad would tell me to push any bad thoughts out of my head but the grief feels insurmountable and it’s like I have no control over being dragged into the sadness even further. I don’t want to actively choose to relive these sad moments over and over but I already am. It’s like I’m back there waiting for it all to happen again.
I was wondering if anyone else has felt like this with approaching anniversaries? If so do you have any methods to help you cope?
Thank you to anyone who reads this.
Hi Katherine. I always like seeing your posts as I can relate so much to your experiences. Like you, I’m thinking about the imminent anniversaries. This time last year we were living quite normally, although my dad was beginning to struggle a little bit and with hindsight of course you see the signs. Part of me thinks things might be less difficult once we’ve passed the “first” of everything and we’re into the second year. But although the initial agony has subsided, in many ways the sadness is growing. The reality that he’s gone forever seems to be harder to accept the further I get from the last time I saw him. I’m dreading Christmas because we had a very fixed routine as a family and it was always such a fun time. I can’t even begin to imagine how it will be without my dad. The best word I can use to describe how I feel now is “incomplete”… although we still have happy times, they’re incomplete and the sadness is like a cloud. And I feel incomplete as a person. I don’t see that changing.
Maybe the best thing we can do is create new ways of doing things such as Christmas, go somewhere different, change up the routine. After all, we’re living different lives now. And maybe arrange something enjoyable on the anniversaries. I might give that a try.
Keep posting, and I hope the months ahead are less traumatic than you fear. Jack x
Yes I feel like you do.Am dreading the winter months as mum started being ill in Nov then passed away Dec 30th So Xmas will be difficult this year but she would want me to carry on so I shall the best I can. It will be a low key Xmas this year but hopefully we will get through it.Its only natural to feel like you do.The change in seasons will always remind us of the past and it also shows us time is moving on which is also hurtful.
Keep posting on here as you are not alone.This site has been a godsend for me honestly and I feel I am amongst people who have time for me,who respond with kindness and help me do much.You will feel the same also
Big hugs and keep posting
I feel exactly the same at the moment. This exact time last year mum started to feel poorly and out of sorts. She died suddenly on 4th October of cardiac arrest.
I keep going over and over the time between those 2 dates in my head. Why didn’t I realise? Could she have been saved? Why didn’t I do this or say that?
I too am struggling with the change of seasons because it brings it all back. The anniversary is looming and I feel my grief and healing journey has taken a big step back.
This forum has been a godsend and I’ve made some true friends. Post whenever you want as I’m always happy to chat with people going through the same emotions.
It does help enormously.
Take care, Kate xxx
Thanks for your reply. I always look out for your posts as I very much relate to what you describe about grief and the loss of your father.
I understand when you say this time last year you were living quite normally and maybe the firsts of everything make it more difficult. Since dad died my mind has always compared present day to “this time last year” and today (this time last year) was the last normal day before everything changed. I think that in itself holds some strange significance for me and after the first anniversary in November i won’t have that comparison of life last year with dad and life as it will be. It’s confusing but it feels like there is always something to worry about and another sense of loss created. More distance from dad and it feels upsetting.
I also understand about the initial agony subsiding but sadness growing. I feel more able to cope in many ways or maybe just used to the sadness but the deep sense of longing seems more present.
Your family Christmas sounds special and no doubt the loss of your dad will be felt. There is the hope that it will still be special and new memories created but as you say there is the feeling of it being incomplete as your dad is no longer there.
New routines and traditions sound like a good idea. My dad would tell me to have fun and remember him. I hope in time I’m able to do this and honour him.
Thanks again. Xx
Thank you for your reply. I wish none of us knew what it’s like to feel like this but it is helpful to know that I’m not alone.
I agree about the change in seasons moving us along and it creates a sense of sadness. I dreaded the summer as it reminded me of dad but the autumn also makes me feel very nostalgic and sad as that’s when dad became ill and died. I think everything hurts and that won’t change. Hopefully it will eventually become less painful or more manageable.
A low key Christmas sounds like a good plan. Last Christmas was a blur as dad had only recently died and I think I was in a state of shock. It was a surreal feeling seeing everyone happy and celebrating when as a family we all felt so sad. I will keep posting this site is very helpful.
Thanks for responding.
I’m sorry that you feel this way too. It must have been a huge shock to lose your mum so suddenly. I think it must be part of the grieving process to wonder if we should have realised that the person was sick or if we could have saved them.
When the intense feelings of grief hit I still get thoughts that I should have been able to save dad. It feels like a form of self torture at times as nothing could have been done and when I think more clearly I know that.
The feeling of unease is horrible with anniversary coming up.
Here if you ever want to chat. Thanks for replying. Xx
Yes, I too have been apprehensive in the run up to anniversaries of difficult times last year. I am frustrated that i can’t remember very well some of the conversations we had together, just the gist of things not his exact words whilst have such detailed memories of the saddest and worst moments.
I wonder if, and really hope, things will feel a bit better after the ‘12 months since…’ marks have passed because at least we won’t be worried about them coming up (?) But like others describe I find it hard to accept how long it has been since i saw or spoke to him.
I would also be interested to hear how others have approached this time of annniversaries. Good ideas about new routines and traditions.
I’m not sure yet how I want to spend the anniversary, I think I’ll maybe cook or go out for one of his favourite meals in the evening. I may start reading one of his books.
Sending best wishes to you all and thanks for sharing your thoughts.
Thanks for your reply. I think it might be common to have more detailed memories of the saddest moments as there is surely a lot of trauma. For a long time after dad’s death I could only seem to remember him being ill. It might be the case that with the passing of time you remember more of the conversations, but I am only going off my own experience.
I think new traditions are a good idea. As dad died last November, Christmas was already looming. My mum and I spent Christmas with my brother, his wife and my nephew abroad. I think this was good for us all as there were so many reminders for mum and I here. We will do the same again this year. I am hoping to spend the one year anniversary with my brother and mum. I think we will just go for a nice walk and have a meal and chat about dad. My dad was quite low key but he would love us all being together.
Cooking a meal and reading one of your dad’s books sounds like a great idea.
I’m still thinking of how to get through the anniversary. I think I will go and buy fresh flowers at a local market and I’ve booked an appointment at my hairdressers for the afternoon. Mum would approve of a pampering session…anything to make that day more bearable. Also a meal or drink and talk about mum and remember happy times.
It seems impossible that it’s nearly a year. It has gone so quickly even though the days are sometimes endless. Does anyone else have this strange feeling with the passing of time/ changing of seasons? I struggle because my life before is getting further and further away. Xx
Getting some nice flowers and hairdressers sounds like a good plan. I think there is a pressure or build up to anniversary to do something that solely focuses on the person we miss but it will no doubt be a difficult day and take a toll on us, the loved ones, left behind. It’s important to also take time for ourselves as our loved ones would no doubt want this for us.
I agree about it feeling impossible that it’s been nearly a year. Time seems to have stood still and also raced like never before which is disorientating. The change of seasons has brought much sadness. The Spring and summer felt strange as I would have been making plans with dad. A hot summers day was an even greater reminder that he wasn’t here to enjoy the sun and I felt winter matched my mood more. Autumn was my favourite time of year but it will forever be associated with sadness over losing dad. In a strange way I hope in years to come it becomes more of a time where I look forward to remembering him. I might look into doing a short trip each year around the anniversary too.
I miss my life before this happened so much.
I know Katherine, I also miss my life before with mum a very central part of it. I too will now always associate Autumn with loss and the season mum left this world so suddenly and silently, just as Spring was always associated with her birthday and brighter days ahead.
I hope that once this cycle of firsts has been concluded we will find a bit of peace at least. The first year has been so hard hasn’t it? The worst year of our lives, but we have to be proud of ourselves for how far we’ve come… Xx
I hope you are right and that once we get through the firsts of everything the association isn’t always so upsetting.
This year without dad has been the most difficult of my life. I always knew this would be the hardest thing I would face but hoped it would be many more years from now. To lose a loved one suddenly is something that can’t be understood unless you have been through it.
I agree about being proud of how far we have come. I have no doubt that our loved ones would tell us to keep going.
Thanks for your reply. It helps to know that others understand.