Author Topic: Trying to cope after the loss of my dad  (Read 692 times)

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Offline Gayle81

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Trying to cope after the loss of my dad
« on: October 15, 2020, 09:18:17 PM »
Hi everyone,

This is my first post, and I guess my first step to trying to make some sense out of what's happened.

December 2019 I lost my dad very suddenly and unexpectedly.
My dad was my whole world, he was my hero, my protector and my best friend and it absolutely broke my heart into a million pieces when I lost him.

I do have days where I'm good, I can laugh and smile with the best of them, but even on those days, inside I still feel lost without him and I feel this emptiness without him and I doubt that I'll ever feel again, the way I did before I lost dad.
People at work, my friends, think I'm absolutely fine, but I put my "work mask" on. That's the way I am and have always been, work and duties first, private life second.
But inside? I'm empty and it's like a part of me is permanently missing. I feel as though the spark, that zest for life that I had has gone.

I struggle with not seeing him or talking to him and I have days where feelings of guilt crucify me.
I don't live in my hometown but I'm only a couple of hours away and although I'd speak to my dad loads and go home as much as I could, Sunday nights were the night where we would facetime each other and talk for absolutely ages about anything and everything.

The Friday before he died, I'd passed a training course at work and as soon as I got to my car I texted him to let him know because I was so excited and he was waiting to hear if I'd passed it. I'll never forget the message he replied with, "brilliant news pet. You'll have to tell me all about it on Sunday xxxx"
Unfortunately, I didn't get the chance  :cry:

I replay the night he died over and over in my head, I can remember every single detail about that night.
Sunday evening came, I'd dropped my partner off at his work Christmas party, I came home did a couple of chores and then sat down to speak to dad. I facetimed him, got no answer so I rang his mobile, got no answer.
I gave it a few minutes thinking he might be on the loo or in the kitchen making his supper or something.
But then I rang him again, and again, and again, after about 20 minutes of this I just started to get this sick feeling in my stomach that something was wrong.
So I contacted friends of his to see if he was with them which he wasn't, I rang my brother to see if dad was with him, which he wasn't.

Cut a long story short, this was getting on for around 9.30pm, my brother went to dads with the spare key. The bedroom light was on, car on the driveway, blinds open downstairs (he never went to bed without closing the blinds) and his key was in the back of the door, as soon as I knew this I felt absolutely sick to my stomach because I knew that something was very wrong.
All the while I'm still ringing and texting him.
So I called the police to go to dads house and force entry as my brother couldn't get in.
I was sat with my phone in my hand, physically shaking waiting for news.
My brother called me within minutes of the police getting there and as soon as I answered the phone and my brothers voice cracked as he started to speak, I just knew and I collapsed to my knees on the floor.
Dad had passed away on his bedroom floor....  :cry:
I remember the police officer talking to me on the phone and I even said to her "don't tell me he's dead, please don't dare tell me dad's dead..."
The hardest bit was ringing my auntie (dads sister) in New Zealand to tell her that her only brother had passed away right before Christmas.
I remember that she had sent dads Christmas card and present a few days beforehand and it arrived the day of his funeral.

The bit that just rips me apart is that he died alone on his bedroom floor and he had been there since the Saturday afternoon.
My own dad. Lay there, dead, for over 24 hours. I feel like the most horrible, awful daughter in the world for that.
He was all alone without anyone knowing what had happened and it brings me to tears just thinking about it....I despise myself that I wasn't there for him and that he died all alone. Dad was there for me my entire life, through absolutely everything and I wasn't there for him when he needed me.  :cry:

He wasn't meant to die that way, me and my brother should have been with him at the end, holding his hand, telling him how much we loved and adored him, and saying our goodbyes.
He was taken too soon, there were so many things that he didn't get to do, that I didn't get to do with him......he'll never walk me down the aisle and that was the one thing he really wanted to do  :cry:
I feel robbed and cheated out of even saying goodbye to my own dad....
It just feels so unfair because he was such a wonderful, decent, hardworking, loving, honourable man.

Thing is, had it been the following weekend, I was going home for my Christmas visit and I'd have been there.
It was a massive stroke and a brain haemorrhage that killed him, and I know that there's nothing I could have done to save him, the best doctors in the world couldn't have saved him if they'd been right next to him at the time, but I just feel like scum that I wasn't at least there to try and help him or hold him as he died so he wasn't alone and that he would have died knowing how much I loved him.

I torture myself thinking about his last moments....How quickly did it happen? Did he know what was happening? Was he lay there crying out for help in an empty house and nobody came? The mere thought that dad knew what was going on.....I don't know how to describe how downright awful that makes me feel.

I just cannot get rid of the guilt I feel that he died all alone and that I didn't even know about it for over 24 hours! I should have been calling and messaging him every single day!
I feel guilty for moving away from home in the first place, I feel guilty for all the times I could have gone back home even for the day, and I didn't because I wanted to have some rest on my days off from work or to do overtime at work to progress in my career and earn extra money, all the birthdays, Christmas eves/days and new years eves that I worked that I should have been with dad....all those missed opportunities just crucify me, and for what? To fulfil my own selfish needs and have some time to relax on my days off? For my career? Extra money?
And I can't change it now.

He was in hospital a couple of years ago for heart surgery and I didn't see him in hospital, why? Because I was working!! Dad said it was a routine operation and that there was nothing to worry about and, (I've only just admitted this to myself in the last couple of months), it scared the living daylights out of me the thought of him being in hospital for anything and I didn't want to see him that way. Yep, I didn't go and see my own dad in hospital.
So I deserve to feel bad and guilty and all the negative emotions I feel, because I was selfish.
My dad, who was absolutely everything for me my entire life, including after when our mum left us when we were young, the one man who I could always trust, rely on, the most loving, loyal, reliable man in the entire world.....his own daughter didn't go and see him in hospital because she put her own selfish feelings before her dads.

The ironic thing is, I've been fortunate that through this covid pandemic, I'm in a very secure and stable job and I've thrown myself into my work. That's what I do. Work, work, work, work, work. And then work some more on my days off.
It's so hypocritical of me. But the way I look at it now is that if I'm at work (and I absolutely love my job, I really do) it keeps me busy and my mind occupied. It gives me something else to focus on and for a while I can forget about what a awful daughter I was and I forget about the guilt for a while.

I have no idea how to get rid of this guilt, I want to but I don't know how. People tell me I shouldn't feel guilty but I can't just switch it off and I should feel guilty about it all and I deserve it because I let my dad down.

I miss my dad so much my heart hurts  :cry: I talk to him all the time but he can never reply, he can never put his arms around me again and tell me he loves me and everything will be alright....he's the only person who could make me feel better but he's the one person who can't do that.

I have his ashes at home with me (my brother, understandably couldn't face having part of dad at home with him as he found it too hard) and I won't scatter them, I want to keep dad home with me because if he's at home with me, I'm always with him and he's not alone anymore.
Almost like I'm trying to make up for not being there more for him.....

I saw a bereavement counsellor early this year and she was amazing, but the guilt I feel now wasn't anywhere near as prevalent as it is now and that counselling was more to do with dealing with the actual loss itself and the shock of it all.

I can accept now that dad has gone, it's hard and as much as it's like a stake through my heart and I do feel so empty without him, I know and accept he isn't coming back, but it's this guilt, the feelings of regret, the feelings of loss and the desperation I feel from wanting so desperately to be forgiven by dad for not being there when he needed me most in the world.

Has anyone else felt guilt like this and how on earth did you cope with it?
I wonder if the time has come again to seek out some more counselling....

Thank you for taking the time to read this and I do apologise for going on and on.

Gayle xx
« Last Edit: October 15, 2020, 09:35:10 PM by Gayle81 »

Offline Emz2014

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Re: Trying to cope after the loss of my dad
« Reply #1 on: October 15, 2020, 09:38:15 PM »
Sending you a hug  :hug:  i lost my dad many years ago, he too died alone. I had spent the day trying to get hold of him and early eve my sister went over and found he had passed away
Its truly hard and is a rollercoaster. It seems guilt and thougnts of 'should have' are part of the journey. I had lots, but in reality we can only do what we can with the knowledge we have at the time, and along with that our loved ones know we always intended the best

In time I was able to let to of the should haves, i know i did the best I could at the time. The journey for me definitely took a few years to come to a more settled place. I still think of my dad daily but the pain has eased (it still flares now and again, but I've learned to cope)

My only advice is to remember you did all you could. And I'm sure if you could speak with your dad now he would acknowledge you did too. When you have a bond like that they knew they were loved :hearts:
Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise. 
Hold on in there xx

Offline Gayle81

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Re: Trying to cope after the loss of my dad
« Reply #2 on: October 15, 2020, 10:11:08 PM »
Thank you  :hearts:

Now that the shock of dads passing has worn off, I find myself missing him more and more every day. I keep asking myself "when does this get easier?" but I guess, how long is a piece of string?

I remember going back to work 2 weeks after his funeral, what a mistake that was! I ended up having a complete meltdown and having even more time off work. Thankfully my supervision were absolutely brilliant.
But I'm terrified that will happen again because of everything I'm feeling.

Honestly, my friends at work would be shocked beyond all belief if they knew I felt this way because I'm so good at pretending that I'm absolutely fine.
I do have days where I feel good and I can feel the joy and happiness and see the good in things but I just feel so hollow inside, I find myself with less patience for things as well which is weird because I was always a very patient person, I'm cut from the same cloth as my dad in that way but since I lost dad, I just find myself unable to take any interest in other people's problems (which sounds awful I know!).

At dads funeral, friends of his were telling me how much he loved me and how proud he was of me (god it makes me cry just thinking about it) and how he was so happy seeing me settle down doing my dream job, settling down with my partner (who he regarded as his second son) and he was so happy seeing me happy.

I know, I know in my heart of hearts that dad would thump me on the arm and say " come on lass, buck up, dry your eyes and stop it. There's no need" but my heart just aches for him.

As I sit here I can see his pictures and his smiling, handsome face is beaming back at me and I just feel really really sorry for him that his life was taken away when he was happy with his lot in life.
He had two lovely grandsons from my brother, he had a great group of friends, he was going on holidays with them, I'd settled down with my partner, he was happy I got a new role at work. His life was good and it was just all stolen away in the blink of an eye.

It just breaks my heart and I think because it's getting close to the first anniversary it's bringing back lots of feelings.
Things like "this time last year....." not knowing that in about 8 weeks, his life would be no more and the worlds of me and my brother would never be the same again.

I'd never really experienced bereavement before this so all of these feelings are a very big shock.

Offline Emz2014

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Re: Trying to cope after the loss of my dad
« Reply #3 on: October 16, 2020, 08:16:06 PM »
I remember near the beginning I'd be sat at work and randomly burst into tears. Luckily i was able to work from home a bit more. And I did find I became very short tempered, an agitation and often didnt recognise myself in my reactions. In my 2nd year I felt it took time to try and find 'me' again, and regain confidence

Coming up to anniversaries is always hard, brings up lots of memories. We often find the actual day is not as hard as feared. I find it helps me to be kind/gentle with myself around those times.  Give yourself the space/time you need, plan to do something which has meaning to you - whether thats needing time with others, or time alone to remember.

I've done a few different things over the years, whatever has felt right at the time.  Some I would spend time at my dads stone, another year I wrote a message on a pebble then threw it into the sea, then watched/listened to the waves

From my experience the rollercoaster takes time but it does get easier  :hug:
« Last Edit: October 16, 2020, 08:19:15 PM by Emz2014 »
Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise. 
Hold on in there xx

Offline allylebou

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Re: Trying to cope after the loss of my dad
« Reply #4 on: January 26, 2021, 04:23:14 PM »

I have just joined this forum and went straight to your posting and was in tears, and I don't really do tears.
I'm so sorry your wonderful Dad has gone.
My Dad died around the same time as yours; November 2019.
He was the absolute world to me as your Dad was to you.
Grief is the price we pay for love, but what a price.

Please take care.

Offline Sandra61

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Re: Trying to cope after the loss of my dad
« Reply #5 on: February 12, 2021, 12:02:33 PM »
October. Everyone dear to me I have lost in October. I dread the month. My dad died in mid October, just like yours, but in 1985. I still remember the events of that night. He died at home, but still alone. He had gone up to get ready for bed and I found him collapsed on the bed. He was gone. His heart had given out. He had had a heart attack some months prior, but was otherwise fit and strong. I think when people are like that, we think they are indestructible and because we are not used to them being ill, it is all the more of a shock when they pass away, especially unexpectedly.

Being in the house is no guarantee that you would have been there when your dad passed away. We would all like to think we could be there holding a loved ones' hand when they go, but that implies notice that this is going to happen. You had none. When my mum died in 2017, it followed a six week illness and she was in hospital. I was so determined that she would not die alone, I spent the previous four nights at her bedside all night and only left for a rest when my brother could be with her instead. Yet on the morning she passed, what happened? I came home for a rest, exhausted, an hour or so before I had expected my brother to arrive. My parking permit was running out and I was so tired, I couldn't find the energy to go out and pay it again and move the car and come back in for what I thought would be just a short time before my brother arrived, so I came home and within an hour and a half I got a call to say I should come back, but before I could get out the door, I got another to say she was gone. My brother was delayed that day and was not there either. She passed away alone and I feel guilt that I didn't just stay till he came and went home instead, putting my own exhaustion first.

We can all find something to blame and criticize ourselves for. Things never happen the way we would have preferred them to. What happened with your dad is terrible, but it was quick and he did not have to suffer a long illness and probably knew very little about it at the time. You can't have known and could not have predicted what would happen. None of us conduct our lives based on the worst happening at any moment. We all work more than we might have done if we had had the benefit of hindsight, but we never do have that. We all think at the time we are doing what we are doing for the best and our loved ones would even agree probably. Life just sometimes takes a turn we could never have seen coming and that is how life is. We never see the bad things coming. We can't.

Guilt and self-blame are always a part of grief. However close to what we would have wanted such a time to be, we can always always find something to criticize ourselves for. We all go through the process of thinking 'if only I had done this or that', but we all do the best we can in the moment believing we are doing what is best. Life is just unpredicatable and playing the blame game is pointless. We did what seemed best at the time. We couldn't have foreseen what was coming.

It sounds like your dad had a great life and was very happy and that you and your brother had a wonderful relationship with him and that's what you need to hold on to. The last moments of his life made up only the tiniest fraction of it. Something always gets every one of us in the end. If anything, learn from that and make sure you create a healthy balance in your own life from now on between work and home life and prioritise home life when you should. Life is a learning process and an obstacle course that we have to learn to navigate as we go along. We will always make mistakes and do things or not do things that cause us regret, but no one is perfect; we all just do the best we can as we go along and should not expect more of ourselves.

Your dad will never leave you. He will always be in your heart and your memories and in the fabric of who you are as a person, because life with him helped make you who you are now, so he will always be a part of you. Grief does change you. I've found that over the years too. I have no patience with the petty arguments of work colleagues anymore either and lost interest in the importance of work after I lost my dad. That only increased after I lost my mum. I work because I need to, but it doesn't matter to me as it used to when I was younger. Work won't love you back, but that is one of the lessons you learn as you go through life. I am glad you enjoy your work, but life outside work matters too, so finding that balance is important so that you don't end up feeling you have missed out. Unfortunately, that's just something you learn over time.

Try to be kind to yourself. You could not have seen this coming and had a great relationship with your dad. He couldn't have seen this coming either. You are far from being a  terrible daughter. It sounds to me like you were a great daughter and your dad was a great dad. You were both very lucky, so hold on to that. You did the best you both could at the time and could not have seen what was just around the corner.

Take care of yourself. Your dad would want the best for you as you move forward in life and would not want you to be mired in guilt and self-blame. You cannot change the past, so look forward instead and make sure you do the best by your dad by making the best future you can for yourself, because that is what he would want for you now, so do that for him, in honour of his memory and of all the years he put into helping make things as good for you as he could when he was here. 

It can help to do something in memory of a lost loved one; placing a bench in memory of them at a spot that was special to them or planting a tree in their memory or just revisiting places you had happy memories of having spent time together on anniversaries and allowing yourself time to be quiet with your memories. Grief is punishing enough, so be kind to yourself and don't add to that punishment. You don't deserve it.

Wishing you well.  :hearts:

Offline Wemu

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Re: Trying to cope after the loss of my dad
« Reply #6 on: March 22, 2021, 08:06:37 PM »
Haven't read all of your post (glasses downstairs!) but happy to chat if it would help. I lost my dad nearly 5 years ago. Keep strong, easy to say I know but you will. We can surprise ourselves. Just mail me if you want to. Be knifed to yourself and cry, it dies help xx