My First Father’s Day Without A Father
Megan reflects on grief and how she came to terms with her father’s death.
This year my dad died, weeks after a terminal cancer diagnosis. The news and even now the realisation puts me into shock. At 21, I’m not the youngest to loose a parent and I’m grateful but I still feel too young to be without my dad.
The first weeks after his death felt dark, lonely; grief is lonely. The sofa and the four surrounding walls were as far as I could see. Sadness, regret and grief filled me. I’ve discovered, for myself, grief is the consequence of loss when you have loved, that it’s ok to grieve, it’s completely natural and it’s the price of love and life. Now is a time to be sad and you shouldn’t need to justify your feelings.
Only in April, Prince Harry said in his interview with the Daily Telegraph that he ‘shut down all his emotions’ for nearly twenty years, numerously coming ‘very close to a complete breakdown’ and experiencing ‘two years of chaos’ before tackling his grief. I don’t want that for me. This should show us all sticking our heads in the sand doesn’t work, the British stiff upper lip is a facade, that grief needs to be processed and mental health and wellbeing is about everyone.
You need friends at low points in life, mine I know each have struggled, not knowing what to say or do but the ones who have persevered, surprising me with random acts of kindness have showed they’re true. It’s been the simple, everyday things that have been a great comfort. A message here, a coffee there, a passing knock on the door, a lets go for a walk, a come round for food or just a call has made me feel less alone. What’s been painful, on top of the grief, is the little reminders such as the upcoming Fathers Day heavily promoted in shops and of course being around people who have Dads or avoid talking about my Dads death because they’re uncomfortable. Airbrushing over and not acknowledging isn’t the answer for anyone.
Talking is the answer.
I get talking about death is an awkward and potential upsetting conversation, for all ages but by not talking it’s promoting an unhealthy life style of bottling emotions. Bottling, denying and not talking can’t be good for you or your mental health (as Prince Harry shows). If all of us were honest and talked more then I’m sure we could sort our worlds problems out over a cup of tea (yeah maybe a biscuit too). I think by opening the conversation on grief, as a part of mental health and wellbeing in schools and society we’re breaking that stigma which surrounds not being ok.
I am not qualified at dealing with grief, all I can say is I wanted to read an article where someone was in the early stages of grief, not on the other side of the tunnel, I’m on a journey that I expect is a life time long, grief is hitting me like waves but I’m hopeful that there’s peace ahead of me.