Bereavement, Grief, Loss of a Parent

13 years on the grief rollercoaster

As this post goes live, it will have been exactly 4,750 days since my world was turned upside down and I was placed onto the grief rollercoaster, when my Dad passed away with no warning. 

I wanted to take a moment to just sit and reflect on the time that has passed as a lot has happened and I have obviously changed a lot, seeing as I was only just a teenager and now, I’m in my late twenties (that will never not feel weird to say).

Unfortunately, once you are on the grief rollercoaster, you will be on it for the rest of your life. However, that does not mean that you will feel the same all the time, it is called a rollercoaster for a reason. 

Do I still miss my dad every single day? Yes, of course I do! 

Do I feel sad every single day? Nope. 

Does the grief still consume me? Not at all, it is part of me, it always will be, but it doesn’t consume me anymore. 

In the early years, just thinking of my dad was enough to make me well up, and I definitely would never have even acknowledged any of his faults. Now, I sit here and a random, silly memory will pop into my head and I will laugh. I will reminisce about stupid things my dad did, times he yelled at me and I don’t feel sadness at what I no longer have, instead I feel intense gratitude that I have those memories. I get to remember my dad yelling at me when I went to cross a road without looking, because he loved me so much, he didn’t want anything to happen to me – what an incredible privilege to have. 

Over the last 13 years, I have done and experienced a number of things that my dad never got to see and as time goes on, there will be more and more things that he will miss out on. However, that doesn’t mean he wasn’t a part of those things, because he was and he always will be. 

When I sat my GCSEs and A Levels, it was his work ethic that had been instilled in me, that enabled me to get the results I did. 

When I went to University, it was his pride in me that spurred me on when things got hard.

When I learnt to drive and eventually passed my test, it was his unwavering faith in me growing up that gave me the confidence to do it. 

When I graduated with a Business degree, it was knowing that I was following in his footsteps that carried me through the day without sadness. 

When I was diagnosed with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, it was because of his death that my health issues were taken seriously. 

When I realised that I had to give up on my dream of buying my own house in my twenties, it was intrinsically knowing that he would want me putting my health above everything else that got me through the heartbreak. 

When a worldwide pandemic happened and threatened my Mum’s life, it was my dad’s personality that kicked in and made me realise that I had to do everything possible to keep my mum safe, even if it meant moving out. 

Everything I do in life is because of him, whether I know it at the time or not. I used to say that when dad died, I lost part of me, but that isn’t really true. 

Instead of losing part of me, I gained part of him and it’s this part of him that has made me who I am today. 

When I laugh, I can hear his laugh; when I catch myself smiling, I see his smiling face staring back at me; when I look in the mirror, I see his eyes twinkling in mine. 

I’m not going to sit here and say I am my Dad, because I’m not, I’m my own person, but I always think that we are made up of the people in our lives. My personality is a patchwork quilt made up of everyone in my life over the years, and my dad is at the heart of it.

I was looking through photos the other day and I felt a pang of sadness at how different I looked when dad was alive compared to now, but then I looked more closely and realised those 13 years of aging are down to him. Whilst I may look a lot older than when he last saw me, I know that if he ever came back, he would recognise me in an instant, because of the smile on my face, and that smile is down to the childhood he and mum gave me. 

So yes, I only had 13 years with my dad, but what an amazing 13 years they were! 

And now? Now, I get to live my life with the happiest memories and the knowledge that my dad gave me everything I need to succeed in life. 

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