Not being able to move on from Dad's death

I’ve never really attempted to use an online forum and talk to others about the death of my father; but I suppose now is a good time as any. When I was eight years old, my dad committed suicide. I found out that he died when I was ten, and then I found out the full truth about his suicide when I was 12/13; it was quite blurry. Of course, it was traumatic and terrifying and absolutely heart breaking and for years I’ve felt guilt, confusion, loneliness and have been through severe episodes of depression. The most difficult thing about it, is that I never met him.

Him and my Mum divorced when I was a baby and while they were together, he was depressed and an alcoholic, he would get verbally abusive to others and her whenever they went out for drinks or dinner and clung to my Mum with whatever energy he had. But they decided it wasn’t working out; my Mum knew it wasn’t a safe, happy or healthy environment for me or her to be in, and they divorced. My Dad never came to a birthday of mine or sent a card even though my Mum left the option open because after all he’s my father and is entitled to see me. But when I was 6/7, we started writing letters to one another; he finally got in contact and we exchanged photos and gifts, he’d write me poems and drew me pictures. He was homeless at the time and was staying in a hostile in Guildford and going to church there, whatever he could afford to give me he would and started every letter off with calling me his ‘little heart Chloe’. I knew he loved me. I knew he cared and prayed for me, he was Christian, and I knew one day I wanted to meet him and take care of him and love him because he’s my Dad. But we never had a phone call or saw one another face to face. Worst part is, my Mum didn’t get to tell me everything. Some woman we were talking to when I visited the church he used to go to with my Mum, just said, ‘Jamie was such a lovely guy, its such a shame he committed suicide.’ I remember turning to my Mum and the room was spinning and my heart felt like it was physically breaking, I broke down completely and asked her what the woman meant and what he did. She told me that he’d hung himself in a park.

Overall, people have told me to not feel like he’s left me, that I should feel better for the fact that we didn’t have a lot of memories and that I’m not alone. But its like he’s always been a ghost in my life and knowing I can never hold him, hear his voice, see him or help him, breaks my heart. His death also tainted my confidence and relationship with men or boys that try to become a part of my life, I feel like if I love them, or let them in, they’ll leave me and its scares me. My trust is so guarded all the time.

Little things such as my last day of primary school, my first day of secondary school, prom, receiving my grades at sixth form, or advice that I could’ve taken were all missed moments that I can’t have back. Even further down the line, I won’t be able to have my father daughter dance with him if I get married, or be walked down the aisle he won’t be a grandfather to my first child or hold them… or even hold me… just the fact that he won’t be there, upsets me. However, I know that I’ve been strong enough to get through my previous years without him and I know it’s possible for me to get through my greatest moments in the future without him too. It’s just fucking hard, to miss and want to talk to someone I never even got a chance to have in my life; someone who was just there for a second, a blip when I was a baby, but wasn’t there for my other moments or even in my memory. I just miss him so terribly; it hurts deep down all the time, even when I am grateful and happy for other things in my life and have a confident exterior to everyone around me, there’s just all this confusion and hate towards the him and the world. I don’t know if anyone on here has been through a similar thing, but I guess I just put this up so I feel less alone. I know its a lot to read, but any advice or thoughts would be much appreciated. Hope you’re all getting through your darkest days as best as you can.

Hi Chloe,

Welcome to the Sue Ryder Online Community. I’m so sorry to hear you lost your dad at such a young age, and the impact it has had on you over the years. How awful for you to find out it was suicide like that, it must have been a huge shock.

It is natural to grieve for your father, even if you didn’t have a close relationship - people in these sorts of situations can sometimes feel that they are grieving for the relationship that they never had a chance to have. It is also very common for grief to come back more strongly at significant points in your life, like the ones you have mentioned.

You mention that you have been through episodes of depression and you have trouble opening up and trusting in relationships. I wonder if you have ever had any counselling? It sounds as though you could really benefit from the chance to talk things through with a neutral person and process everything that has happened.

I’m glad that you’ve found this Online Community, and I hope that writing things down here can help get some of it off your chest. I’ve found some other posts that I thought you might be able to relate to - perhaps it might help to have a read of other people’s experiences?

You might also find it helpful to check out the organisation Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide, who offer a helpline, email support, local support groups and an online forum.