Grief as a Present

frosty sunriseIt’s not always easy to grieve for those you love. The loss can be too catastrophic. Life is too busy. Or you are overwhelmed with other emotions and feelings.

My Dad would have been 76 today. For his birthday I give him this: the overgrown field next to the campsite on the way to being transformed into a smallholding. He would have loved what we have done here. He would have loved all the animals. He would have totally thought having 7 cats was perfectly reasonable.

frosty morning

My Dad died just over 7 years ago and I didn’t grieve then. I couldn’t. The overwhelming emotion I felt was one of relief. I was relieved that he wasn’t suffering anymore. Relieved that I didn’t have to watch helplessly as he suffered anymore. For many years he had been in a lot of pain mentally and physically. He hadn’t wanted to live and undertook a slow, protracted suicide through alcoholism.

Then 8 months after he died I was diagnosed with cancer and then the BRCA2 gene mutation and there were operations, lots of operations. We took over running the campsite and started on this crazy, chaotic smallholding adventure and life filled up.

And there was never time to stop and think about how wonderful my Dad had been, to think how much he loved me. All through the years after my mum died when he was broken and didn’t want to live, I knew he still loved me. I couldn’t make things better and apparently nor could he. And although watching someone waiting to die is heart-breaking I knew he loved me.

So this Christmas I am giving myself a present. I am giving myself space to grieve and to remember what a wonderful person my Dad was. To remember him both before he was broken and afterwards. To remember his unconditional love and support for me. To remember all the things he taught me. To be grateful that I had such a wonderful Dad.

16 responses to “Grief as a Present

  1. This post made me cry. My dad died not so long ago and I am still dealing with everything. There has been so much going on, I too did not give myself space to grieve. And I truly believe that if you don’t make the space to grieve, it finds a way and sometimes like a freight train in the fog it will come out of nowhere – an unstoppable force. Give yourself the space. Be gentle with yourself in that time.

    • Sorry about your dad. Thank you for your kind words. I think you are right about grieving, if you don’t do it, it will sneak up on you. My Dad never grieved for my mum which meant – I think – he never even came close to coming to terms with his loss – it just overpowered him.

  2. Claire, your Dad was a wonderful, intelligent and caring man. We remember his kindness and compassion and also how we were powerless to stop him on his road to self destruct however hard we tried. He would be so pleased with what you have done and are doing with the campsite. He loved you and Alison and also he truly loved to see Anaia, she could get through to him always. Remember how kind he was to your grandmother, he was so gentle and patient. Sylvia , Ivan and I often remember him and wish he could have made it through to share his take on life with us. Grieve if you need to but remember the good times more. Xxx

    • My Dad had the best friends and neighbours – he was so lucky to have you all in his life. Remembering the good times and his compassion and kind heart is exactly what I want to remember adn think about.

  3. Warm hugs. He’d be SO PROUD of who you’ve become. He raised an incredible child. He must of been something else! Rest. Breathe.
    You were and ARE loved.

  4. Will be thinking of you in the days ahead as you celebrate and grieve your dad, his life, remembering his love for you, your love for him. Grief is such a personal thing and we each have our own unique way of experiencing it. May you find what works for you to remember the wonders of your dad, to grieve his suffering and your loss at his absence. May your love for him hold you up as you finally feel your way through the goodbyes to him. Tears are good, cleansing. Laughter, too. Walks in nature. Staring out at the land that was once his that you have resurrected and infused life in to. Moments of quiet and slowing down seem important to me in trying to find the goodbyes I want to say. Still haven’t grieved dad’s death last year. Not sure how so I wait for the knowing of this to come in its own time. Your post seems to say that it is your time to say, and feel, your goodbye. I join your friends and neighbors in holding you in love as you walk through your grief in the days ahead.

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