26 May Bye Bye Daddy…
I am experiencing something that I know many of you are experiencing too, the loss of a beloved parent.
My beautiful Papa peacefully passed away at home at the grand old age of 88. My sister and I were with him, a wonderful last day all together. At 9:40pm on Tuesday, May 4th, my 51st birthday, he gave me the best present ever, a smile, because he knew I was there as he finally drifted off.
I feel completely blessed to have been with him after months of trying to care for him from a distance during lockdowns. My biggest fear was that he would die alone in a hospital and that didn’t happen. For that, I will be eternally grateful, but my heart breaks for all those who did.
Initially, the attention was overwhelming, cards, flowers, phone calls, invites, texts. All lovely and most welcome, but I couldn’t keep up. I felt guilty about not replying or responding or saying yes to all the invites, I was on a weird high, riding on the love and attention, a most welcome distraction from the reality of what had just happened, but also trying to sort out all the admin that comes with a death.
But three weeks on the fuss is over. We’ve said goodbye to dad and life has returned to normal, another ‘new normal’ to adjust to. No more flowers, cards, calls or texts. Everyone has moved on and I’ve got a gaping hole in my life where Papa used to be.
I haven’t spoken to him for three weeks, I’ve not got ‘visit Papa’ in my diary or calendar. I won’t be buying a father’s day card or planning a birthday celebration for him. Nothing. No Papa, and it’s starting to hurt, a lot.
I was a Daddy’s girl, he was my rock, he made me feel safe. He was kind, loving, affectionate and generous. He wasn’t perfect, but he was a wonderful man and a wonderful father. And three weeks on I’m starting to really notice that he’s not there, the buffer between me and the world. I could always turn to him for a cuddle or for advice, he was always there and now he’s not. And so the grieving begins. The dust has settled, the adrenaline rush of ‘doing’ has subsided and the reality is starting to bite.
I need to be kind to myself. I need to show myself some compassion and allow myself to be sad. I also need to allow myself to take a break, a holiday would be ideal, but sadly not possible, so it’s about taking it easy for a few weeks and slowing down, acknowledging that there could be tough times ahead and not trying to ignore the feelings that surface by keeping ‘busy.’
Suppressing at this stage will only result in my emotions surfacing at a later date, more compounded and more intense. The feelings of loss and sadness are not going to go away and they have to go somewhere, as the old saying goes ‘better out than in.’
So many menopause symptoms are caused by stress, it’s important I do what I can to manage the stress that comes with the grief. For me that looks like regular exercise, downtime when needed, watching what I eat and drink, crying when I need to, allowing myself to feel negative emotions and the hardest part, asking for help, being vulnerable does not come easy to me, this I think will be my lesson.
Last year was our Annus Horribilius, but now it’s over, and a new year begins. Papa is on his way back into the arms of his beloved Patsy after 10 long years apart and my sister and I are left to fill the void that was for so many months a constant stream of phone calls to hospitals, carers and Dr’s, all the amazing people who helped us care for our Papa from a distance during the pandemic.
In 1977 Papa took me to see the first Star Wars film and I remember him telling me how special I was, because of my birthday “May The 4th Be With You.”
My birthday will never be sad, it will forever be a special day and a joint celebration for Papa and for me. A blessing of a day for reflection, tears and many, many cheers.
Rest In Peace Daddy – The Force was strong with you
The Awesome Fred Fuller 11th June 1932 – 4th May 2021