Losing A Father, Gaining An Incredible Son

Hi everyone, I hope you’re having a wonderful day! This is my life for the past four years.

Four years ago my father fell ill while teaching abroad in South Africa. He was flown back to the UK to receive healthcare. I shut down my company and my amazing wife agreed that we could move out of London to look after him. Collectively my wife and I gave up our careers, our friends and our city in order to look after my father.

For the first 8 months my father lived with us until he had to go to hospital with an obstruction in his bowels and we were told then that he couldn’t come home with us as we didn’t have the facilities he needed to properly look after him.

We found a nursing home for him, but he was so paranoid that he wouldn’t let the staff do much of anything for him, so I came every day, sometimes every other day. He wouldn’t even let them wash his clothes, so we would wash them at home and bring them back for him. As time passed I fell into depression looking after my father and I stopped working. Luckily the money I saved from shutting down my company and a few projects I’d done since moving out of London allowed me to focus on looking after my father.

I was my father’s sole source of comfort and happiness and I couldn’t be there with him all the time. I put so much of my empathy into appreciating how my father was feeling that I lost any sense of myself and my entire reason for living became looking after him. I began having panic attacks just outside his door before seeing him, worried about what state I would see him in that day. If it was a good day, I would be elated, if it was bad, depressed, but whenever I came home, I would be thrown into the same state of depression and anxiety about how he was doing without me there.

Over those last three years he occasionally went to hospital for some major operations. During the biggest operation, he had part of his bowel and stomach removed. When I came to see him each day he was lying on rubber sheets in a pool of his own blood, urine and faeces, hallucinating that his three other sons were also with me visiting him.

I never let him know how badly looking after him was effecting me, always slapping a smile on my face and pretending as though everything was wonderful. The nurses told me “The only time he smiles is when you’re here, you know!”, which I know was intended to make me feel better, but instead it just made me feel unbelievably anxious about how he was doing whenever I wasn’t there. At the time I told myself that going through this was fine because I would be allowed the time to recover once my father passed. However, my wife and I then became pregnant! Which was miraculous considering we were told that we would never be able to conceive naturally.

My father passed in August of 2019. At that time my wife was struggling with pre-natal depression. Our amazing son was born a month later during a horrendous labour in which my wife was left horrendously scarred by an episiotomy where the stitches came out, which led to her experiencing quite severe post-natal depression.

Our son has been the light of our lives and a true blessing. He’s so well behaved, sleeps well, eats whatever we put in front of him and is such a happy baby. However, just as everything was settling down and my wife was coming out of her depression, I finally deflated and have fallen deep into the most horrendous depression of my own.

I’ve been having regular nightmares and intrusive thoughts remembering my father at his worst in hospital and I can’t seem to get passed thinking about him. I did a course of six counselling sessions but all it did was bring all of the bad things that have happened in my life to the surface without helping me understand how to deal with them/process them. I spent the first couple of months trying to ignore it, wondering why I was grieving now, expecting myself to be feeling 100%, but I’m just now coming to terms with the fact that I’m grieving and need to accept that I’m not going to be okay for a while. This whole experience has been riddled with panic attacks and depression.

I’m 38 and every day I wake up, do 20 pushups (barely), go for a jog (a short jog and a long walk) and I’m eating better than I ever have in my life. I was expecting the exercise and eating well to miraculously fix me but understandably it hasn’t. My typical response to any kind of illness or feeling depressed is to mule kick into feeling better, but understandably this is a different process I need to go through.

I’ve lost connection with most of my friends/colleagues in the industry and getting back into work hasn’t been easy, but more importantly I need to get through this depression first.

Thank you for reading. <3

I’m sorry you’ve lost your Dad. I sounds like you gave up a chunk of your life to look after your Dad.
I understand this near totaI focus upon another person. I was a carer for over twenty years for my Mum. My mother suddenly passed away Oct 2019.
You are not only grieving the loss of your Dad, but clearly also your role. It will take a considerable time not only to grieve, but to adjust to a new life without our loved ones.
I could write more, but I am myself trying to adjust to this strange new world. If feels like only yesterday that she was here.
Of course, the pandemic doesn’t help the situation either.
Take care.

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Thank you so much for your reply, Daffy123. I’m sorry it was such a long read.

I’m so sorry to hear about your mum and you gave up an even more significant chunk of your life looking after her. You’re an incredible person. You’re absolutely right about me losing my role and I’ve felt lost without it. Along with taking on the new role of being a father that I never thought I would be undertaking.

I agree, I’m just coming to terms with the fact that this is going to take us a lot of time to grieve and adjust. I hope you keep well and good luck. <3

It wasn’t a long read at all. This site is a great place to get things off your chest. There’s are lovely people here, who understand how raw it can feel.

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Hi AidanW,
Thank you for sharing your story with us. I am confident you will get many responses from our lovely members. It was really important that you opened up, no story is ever too long.
Please know we are always here for you, keep posting and communicating on the forum.
Take care. Stay safe.
Online Community Team.

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hi Aidan. Thank you for your post and so sorry about all that happened.

Please keep posting and let us know how your days are. I wish the best for you. I am around the same age and feel like my life is over after the shock death of my lovely husband 6 wks ago. I have also nearly given up.

I think your response shows you are a fighter. I hope you make it but maybe you also need to rest sometimes. I’ve no idea though and can’t really offer advice as I am failing at life big time. in 6 wks my life went from as good as it gets to totally down the toilet. I hope you find something that works for you.

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Hi @FleurDeLis,
Thank you for taking the time to read my post and for your response. I’m so sorry to hear of the loss of your lovely husband. I spent the first few months of my depression fighting it, telling myself I should be feeling fine, but in turn I was avoiding it and not allowing my self to process my grief properly. It’s only literally in the last few days that I’ve realised I need to give myself a break and also accept that I’m allowed to not feel great at the moment. I wish I could give you a hug and tell you that it’s okay to not feel great at the moment, in fact it’s perfectly fine to feel terrible and let it all out. You must allow yourself to grieve.

Truthfully, I’m also in an extremely dark place at the moment. Before this summer I can’t remember crying much in the last twenty years, but in the last month especially I’ve been a wreck whenever I talk about my father. I’m the one that everyone else turns to when they need help, but now I’m the one who needs help and that’s fine.

Be kind to yourself, allow yourself to feel however you feel and don’t fight it. I wish the best for you also. x

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I have probably cried more in the last year and a bit than I have over a life time. I’ve never been much of a crier, but that changed the moment I lost my Mum.
I think it’s normal to feel very down when you lose a loved one. Of course, anti-depressants are an option, if the depression persists.

Hi Aiden, I’m so sorry to read your story and that you lost your dad just before becoming a father yourself. It sounds as though his illness and caring for him put a lot of strain on you, and then you had to deal with his loss and a traumatic birth for your wife in quick succession, so you’ve been through a huge amount. I think it makes sense that the impact of everything that’s happened would catch up with you just as your wife’s depression started to lift - you’ve spent so long in a caregiver role for your father and then your wife (in different ways), that perhaps you’ve only just had a chance to focus on yourself and your own feelings.

I hope it helps a tiny bit to be able to write it all down here, and I’m glad to see that you’ve had some supportive responses from others who understand what grief can be like. I just wanted to mention that we’ve had another new user join recently called @Greensunflower who also lost her mum around the time that she had her first child. You can read and reply to her post here: My mam died on Sunday from cirrhosis

Hi @Daffy123,

So I was actually already on anti-depressants throughout the entire time I was looking after my father. I decided to stop taking them this spring and replace them with exercise. It didn’t work and I’m now on a different type of anti-depressant that’s helping a little. I think most of the help I need is in me being able to give myself a break and - as utterly trite and cheesy as it sounds - figure out how to love myself again, because all I’ve been feeling is lost without my father.

Thanks again for your reply. x

@Priscilla Thanks for your reply - I’ll take a look.

Thank you @AidanW for your good advice.

I think you will learn to love yourself again (yes it sounds cheesy but things are clichés because they happen right?). It sounds like you have looked after two people very important to you and better than many of us would. One day I’ll hope you will feel so proud of that.

I hope you take each day as you feel and be as kind to yourself as possible. Break plans if you need to do something you feel like. You are in a dark place and many if us are also stumbling around down in the hole. I hope we’ll all find our way out but until then just knowing we are not on our own and crying out to each other somehow makes it not feel as bad.

I am off to try two of my newly prescribed pills and see if I sleep. I hope you get some peace in your mind somehow tonight. bye for now and a big hug back.

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