Losing my dad as a child and now coping as an adult

Hi, I’ve never used anything like this before so I hope I’m doing it right! But I wanted to vent/ask for some advice.
I lost my dad to cancer when I was 9 years old, it’s now 11 years on and I feel so lost. I just want to talk to people who can understand and I was hoping to find some support groups but I don’t really know how to go about finding them - and also if it’s too late. 11 years is a long time and I don’t know if support groups are best tailored to fresh bereavements/grief.
My fathers death, along with some separate events that followed, has left me with a whole bunch of confusion and anger and to be quite honest sometimes it all just becomes too much, like tonight for example, it’s 1:30am and I’m having a melt down in bed.
I’ve had some one on one counselling and while I plan to go back, I would love to be able to share stories and experience with people who can relate. So if anyone has some advice on where to find support groups please let me know!

I’ve been writing in what I call my ‘grief journal’ which consists of me writing to my dad about any thing and everything that I wish to, as well as doodling pictures for him. I’ve been finding this really useful, it’s something that my counsellor suggested as one of my most recent struggles has been the revelation that I don’t feel that I have a relationship with him, and while it technically is impossible to have one now, I desperately long for the father/daughter relationship that I’ve seen my friends grow up with in their teenage years and now in their 20’s. These letters feel like I can talk to him and communicate with him in a way that I haven’t been able to before.

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Hi Nori,
I’m so sorry to hear about your Husband, it must be such a difficult time for you and your family.
I’m glad you found my journal useful, I wish that I had started doing it when I was younger but I only started around 7 months ago, however in those 7 months it has bought me such comfort and a great way to vent without having to say it out loud (which I think is something that I struggle with, especially when I was a teenager).
Please feel free to ask any questions about my journal or even my experience with childhood bereavement if you feel you would like it, I’m always happy to share :slight_smile:
Sending so much love to you and your family xx


Hi @Nori my boys lost their Dad ten years ago. The eldest was 20 and the youngest just six. Everything was kept very open with them during their Dad’s illness and they both visited him in the hospice before he died. The eldest has achieved a lot in the decade since because he realised that life is fragile and things can change in a heartbeat. His Dad’s death seemed to motivate him into not wanting to waste time. My youngest son has managed well but I have felt the huge weight of being a solo parent if I’m honest. I try to talk about his Dad in everyday conversations but he finds it difficult to relate as his memories are relatively few compared to his older brother. I know my eldest son misses his Dad everyday and particularly at times when he wants to share a life event with him. I’ve often felt so sad on his behalf, knowing that his Dad is missing his successes. I created a memory box for the boys after their Dad’s death and they both know that it’s here for them to access whenever they want. Best wishes to you all facing this heartbreak…xx

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@Nori it certainly is an extremely difficult time. If he’s able, try to get your husband to write or record messages for your boys so they have his words in the future. Although we discussed it this is one thing my boys didn’t have after their Dad died. I think letters or messages would have offered some comfort as the time went on. My eldest son often asks me ‘What do you think Dad would have thought/said/done?’ He got married last year and the absence of his Dad added to the emotion. Look after yourself…xx

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My mum was very honest with me as well and this is something that I think both me and my brother appreciated, as a child it is so easy to feel over looked and that can make a situation that is already so out of their hands feel even more out of control.

I think keeping their dad in your daily conversations once he’s passed is so important to encourage them to talk about their feelings. This can be hard like Rosie pink said, if your younger son doesn’t remember certain memories or even maybe it’s just too hard to talk about it. Personally I loved talking about my dad to anyone who would let me (this could be because I was little or because I’m a girl) where as my brother, who was 12 at the time, felt he couldn’t .

In my brothers situation he’s now shared with me that he felt that his emotions were a burden on other people and that they weren’t wanted. I would say my most important tip for your sons would be to validate all the emotions that your sons feel, tell them that can share anything that they feel and that In order to grieve you have to let yourself feel the emotions that your feeling! I think boys especially are told that sadness and anger are not appropriate for them to feel but both are so normal with grief and allowing them selves to feel it are so important. I think if they do begin to show behavioral issues the best thing to do is remember that 1. its not your fault or their fault and 2. that is totally normal! they’re experiencing new emotions that are hard enough to deal with as an adult let alone a child, I think schools quite often offer support for this as well so its always a good idea to keep them in the loop. I began to run out of school and go to see my mum during school hours because school became the centre of my anxiety, for this my mum got in contact with a child bereavement charity called chums, where I attended group grief workshops with children of the same age, who have similar stories.

A memory box is a lovely idea, I had one too and I loved it, especially wearing my dads T-shirts to bed.I think its nice to get the boys involved with this if they’re happy to, that way its extra personal to them and their relationship with their dad. I would suggest maybe keeping an aftershave or something that smells of their dad which will remind them of him. Letters and voice notes are a lovely idea, but not always possible (I know that in my situation once my dad had received a terminal diagnosis he was barely able to talk, let alone write. but I would’ve loved them!). I also love photos, unfortunately my dad was always the one behind the camera but i have a couple that I really cherish. I’ve found that any creative tasks really help me with my anxiety as well, I love colouring and scrap booking, where as my brother struggled a lot more with anger and I think a contact sports or martial arts would’ve really helped blow of steam for him.

Another important note is while you’re there to validate your children’s feelings and listening to them is to remember that you deserve the same. Its so easy to focus on your children and ignore what you’re feeling but you deserve all the same love and support that you give them for yourself, surround yourself with people who offer this, I grew up surrounded by my mum’s friends for this very reason!
This support site seems like such a great place to vent and receive tips, so I know I’ll definitely be on here more often!

Sorry for such a long winded answer, I hope it wasn’t too much and that it has helped!
Sending you so much love xx

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this is a lovely idea xx

Hi, I’m so sorry for your loss. I lost my mum 18 years ago when I was 3 and it’s not something I’ve ever really dealt with or spoke about. I also feel angry and confused towards the situation and I have this overwhelming fear of illness and death. When you lose a parent when you are still a kid yourself I just feel as if I’ve grown up with this hole in my heart that will never be filled.
I really like the idea of the journaling and I’m glad that’s helping you, I’m definitely going to give it a go!

Hi Ellie,
I’m so sorry to hear about the loss of your mum, sending you so much love!
I’m sorry for a late response, I’ve been battling a cold for what seems like forever. I completely relate to you about your overwhelming fear of illness, I struggle with OCD and a major part of that is fueled by health anxiety. It can feel really cruel that when you experience a death of someone so important so young that not only do you have to deal with grief but also a minefield of other complex emotions for years after.
I think you’ve put it beautifully that it feels like your growing up with a hole in your heart, it truly feels like i’m missing out on so many core memories that so many of the people around me are making and it feels so unfair. I’m glad that my journal has inspired you, my tip would be to be as creative as you wish - it doesn’t just have to be written notes!
I really hope it helps you!

No problem, I’m happy I’ve been of some help! xx