There is nothing that can prepare you for the death of a loved one. No matter how they die, it’s an incredibly painful experience but one that is unavoidable. The truth is that it’s likely that we will have to watch at least one person we love pass away, and for me, that was my father.
I wish I could say that it is just a part of life, mortality is not something we can avoid. When my Grandma and my Great Aunt died, it was sad but I found it easier to deal with the grief – I had spent many years with them and I could accept that they were getting older.
However, losing my dad was the hardest thing. It’s not just because I was a daddy’s girl, I still am. It’s not just because he was my best friend and my rock. It’s because he died by suicide at the age of 49 – when I could have sworn we had so many more years left.
We never consider that mental illness may affect those we love and we certainly can never imagine that our loved ones could die by suicide; as that’s just for the movies and media, right?
It was overnight, I went to sleep knowing my father was safe in the room next to me but I woke up without a daddy. That’s the hardest part for me, there was no goodbye, there was no hug or kiss on the cheek. He was just gone, like the click of a finger and I didn’t want to accept that.
My father and I shared dreams of him walking me down the aisle, of him helping me decorate my first home and being the world’s best Grandpa. We even dreamt about seeing the northern lights together one day, something I will now have to do alone. How could I have thought my father would end his life when he frequently spoke about the future and the memories we had yet to make?
It took me a long three years to come to terms with my father’s death. For a long time, I avoided the grief – I acted like I did not have time for it and then drowned myself in alcohol. Really, I felt like I had died with my father and I didn’t want to wait 60 years to be reunited with him, I wanted just to see him, to hug him now.
But life’s better now, despite the pain that lingers and the trauma of my father’s death. I am married to a man that I know my father would be proud to call his son. I have my own home and have my soul mate in the form of a Pomeranian. Sure, my life isn’t perfect but I am living again and I am enjoying what life I do have left.
You see, we are told that we need to move on from a death but why should we? Our loved ones are a part of our lives, no matter for how long, so why should we forget that? I have learnt to adjust to my new life without my father in it, where his memory lives on but I can ride the waves without him. I have learnt that grief is individual and there is no rule book, all you can do is grieve in your own time and way and you will learn to live again; your life is not over because theirs is.
I would not wish anyone to go through losing a loved one to suicide – it’s a particularly hard and cruel thing to live with. However, I do know that there are so many people out there who live with a similar story to mine and to them, I want them to know that they are not alone and life can get easier.