Hello, I’ve been away from work for nearly two years. During that time, two members of my immediate family had cancer, and one broke her ankle in two places. I’ve been doing family support and grieving as my father didn’t survive the cancer and treatment. He was eighty and a couple of weeks before he passed away he told me he’d had a good innings and he was ready to go. He wanted to die at home and for the first time in my life he asked me for help. He didn’t manipulate me and didn’t say, ‘will you do me a favour?’ He said, from his hospital bed; ‘I don’t want to die in hospital, I want to come home and die. Will you help me to do that?’ So I helped Dad die. The grief caused by loss of a parent, still lingers in eddies that are hard to describe.
In the last two months my father and I healed our fifty year misunderstandings and finally, I was able to say to him, ‘I love you Dad and what I’ve been asking for for fifty years is that you respect my feelings and thoughts. I have a different opinion on things and that’s okay. If you die and we don’t heal our differences, I don’t feel like I’ll be able to move on in my life. My inner child misses her Daddy that she had up until the age of four. I don’t know what caused the separation (although I do have my ideas on why that happened) I only know that my heart aches because my inner child misses her Daddy, and why can’t you hug your adult children, what’s wrong with that?’ It sounds gentle here but this ‘conversation’ happened in loud voices…mine mostly.
For the last two months Dad and I had spontaneous cuddles and there was no feeling of separation just love. What a journey! (tears are running down my face now as I write this)
There was one moment in the last couple of weeks of Dad’s life where he was descending the stairs to go to the garage, he’d paused at the turn in the staircase to say something to me (I was standing at the top of the staircase) in that moment, I nearly rushed downstairs and hugged him…but I hesitated and missed that opportunity…there was never another moment like that one.
Loss of a parent is a rite of passage and it takes however long it takes to heal from that process. Many people have made a point of speaking to me and giving me their condolences. One of the things I’ve realised through this process is that, in losing the parent that I had the tightest heart-bond with, I haven’t ‘done grief…grief has done me.’
I have been gifted with two things (at least); I had the most amazing experience of taking Dad across to the other side, and he’s still visiting me in spirit form to help me and give me encouragement as I care for my mother and clean up the creative mess that he left behind.
If you are watching your parents change and grow old, remember to take all the opportunities to say the things you need to say. Some of those things may be really difficult but the best present is the present…say it while you have the chance.
The loss of a parent runs deep.