Keeping them alive

My dad had been told he had the flu and a chest infection, he was so poorly and stayed in bed for a couple of days. One morning he felt really bad pain but still helped me move into my new flat and bring up boxes. That evening he went into hospital (28th December), two days later we were told he had cancer.

It had transpired that he had cancer in his bile duct which spread this all over his body - liver, lungs, lymph nodes, thoracic spine, ribs and his brain. He endured such pain and seizures due to the metastases in his brain. He had respite care in St Barnabas and was released due to getting the seizures under control, then a week later he passed away. This was the 1st March. He died at home surrounded by my step mum, step sister, my brother and me, his daughter. I could tell he was hanging on because he didn’t want to leave us, so I told him it was okay and that I would look after everyone. He went shortly after that.

I’m struggling because at the moment all I can remember is those two months of pain that he suffered and him being so ill. I keep looking at old photos and videos but they don’t seem to bring my old memories to life and I’m scared that this is how things will be.

I don’t feel close to him anymore, I wrote him an email this morning to his old email address. I don’t know if this helped or not but it felt like something normal? My dad was my world and my best friend and I feel so empty.

I was wondering if anyone had any tips to keep him close to me, without thinking of all the horrible things he had to endure at the beginning of this year. I want to remember him as my dad, not the patient we had to look after and manage his pain. Or ways I can still talk to him and keep him near me. If anyone has anything to share I would greatly appreciate it.


Hi Sarden,

I’m sorry for your loss.

I very much relate to your post. My Dad had cancer in 2020 and doctors told us it was curable. In April last year my dad developed back pain, Drs, physio and a chiropractor all told us it was just age (70). Dad was getting the all clear on his cancer screening where they check for reoccurance but the back pain didn’t go away. In September after persuading dad to get a scan we found out that the pain was a cancer re-occurance and the cancer was metestatic. Dad passed away 8 weeks later.

My dad went from being an active man with a sharp mind to deteriorating rapidly and there was nothing that we could do. I cared for dad, put my job on hold but the last two months of my dad’s life was chaotic. Dad ended up agitated and confused and in November he was admitted to hospice where he passed away. Myself, my mum and my brother were by his side.

I have posted on here quite a bit as I have felt stuck in the period from dad being diagnosed in September 22 to him passing away in November 22. It was only an 8 week period and the worst of all our lives but this was initially all I could think of. This would make me panic as I felt like I was forgetting the 36 years of memories and great times that we had together. It almost felt like a mental block.

My dad and I were so close that I thought I would feel him as soon as he wasn’t here. Surely death couldn’t change our bond? This didn’t happen at first and I didn’t feel like he was with me at all. I’m not sure what I was expecting but I thought there would be some kind of peace or comfort. It has been nearly 5 months since I lost my dad and I do feel him with me now. I have taken charge of all of the responsibilities that my dad had and I now seem to now be able to do things that I wouldn’t have had the confidence to do before. I believe this is my dad helping me. He had unwavering faith in me even when I didn’t and everytime I do something that dad would have done and I am supporting my mum it makes me feel close to him.

It’s not for everyone but I also talk to my dad, I say good morning and good evening each day. I also have pictures up around the house which I find this helps a bit. If I feel sad or if I have a happier moment I often say out loud that I love him and miss him and it makes me feel closer to him. I also send emails occasionally, usually at night if I want to say something or if I feel sad as it’s somewhere safe to put my thoughts.

It seems to be common to feel stuck focusing on when our loved one was ill when we first lose them. I have read many posts on here from people who feel similar to myself.

I do feel that the memories of my dad being ill and in hospice are worse when I’m having a particularly bad day. The sadness is always there but keeping busy helps and on the days where the grief feels excruciating this is when my mind tends to focus more on the painful memories. I’m not sure why this is.

I hope other people may have some more specific advice for you.

Take care


I think I also feel sad as, my dad was 59. He had respiratory issues but other than that was full of life and ready for retirement with my step mum. I can feel her pain all the time as she has lost her life partner, and I sadly won’t have my dad at those pivotal moments like when I get married or have my first child.

I am also living with so much regret and overthinking the arguments we may have had or the times I let him down. I also, can’t understand why this had to happen to him. I desperately want to keep him memory and positivity with me always but some days its just so hard. Especially when I see my step mum losing herself in her grief. It’s just hard to know when things will get any easier.

I am trying not to put too much pressure on myself for anything, but also don’t want to fall into the trap of, not knowing how to live a normal life anymore or doing the things I used to enjoy because he’s not here to see them with me.

@Sarden its still such very early days for you on this horrible journey. You’re likely still caught up in the turmoil of shock, anger, denial and agony of seeing your beloved dad decline so quickly. I’m a few months further down the line than you are, and the memories of my dad’s last weeks are beginning to recede, but their replacement by memories of all our happy times bring a different kind of pain, particularly as the spring and summer arrive. Like @Katherine86 i find it helps to speak to my dad out loud, tell him I love him and miss him and I’m thinking about him so much, and also to have photos around. It doesn’t work for everyone, but it makes me feel his presence more. There are no easy ways through this and you’ll have to live with the sadness and grief forever, but you will find your own way of coping with this new life we’re all struggling to navigate our way through. Take care of yourself and keep posting when you need to. This site is such a help, even if it’s just reading through other people’s similar feelings.

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Hi Jack,

I hope you are doing ok. I have also found that the memories of my dad’s final weeks and days have lessened slightly and they tend to re-surface if I’m having a particularly bad day and almost ruminating over it. I am glad that I’m starting to remember my dad as the person he was when he was well, but as you say this brings its own sadness.

Easter used to be my favourite time of year, lighter nights and warmer weather to look forward to and it now just feels like another challenge to get through. If I’m having a day where the grief feels more manageable or there is something enjoyable then it’s also a reminder that dad’s not here. It all feels so senseless.

It sounds like you are keeping your dad close and I am doing the same. I very much want to maintain the bond and relationship that I have with my dad, it’s just finding a different way to do that and to carry them with us.

Take care.


I understand how your feeling as when I lost my mum only a year ago now, she was only 63. She was on life support for 5 days, she was unconscious with tubes everywhere lying in a hospital bed. She had an aneurysm suddenly and the last time I had seen her was a few weeks before. I thought that all I would remember was the image of her in hospital. At first that image was very vivid but what I did was have her photo by my bedside and I would look at all the time and talk to her too, she’s also my phone Home Screen, I found that helped. In time that image of how ill she was did shift from my brain.