When I was 13 years old, my dad suddenly passed away at the age of 44. My dad was a caring, funny person who I was very close with whilst I was growing up. At the time he passed away he was in hospital but I didn’t really understand why or what happened. My parents were divorced so I used to stay with my dad every other weekend. One weekend I was waiting for him to pick me up but he never arrived, so I rang my stepmum who told me that he had suffered from a panic attack which led to him having a huge breakdown. He was rushed to hospital, which did not allow anyone below the age of 18 to visit, so from then I wasn’t able to see him again. I think my dad was in the hospital for around a week when my mum had told me my stepmum was coming to visit me and my brother. It was from that point that I knew what she had to say. She sat us all down and told us that my dad had passed away. I felt like my whole world had ended and my chest felt so empty and heartbroken.
My stepmum told us that she went to visit my dad that day and when she arrived the doctors and nurses were rushing around, as my dad had been found on the bathroom floor and he was not breathing. The ambulance arrived and tried their best but it was too late. It took a while for them to find a reason as to why he was found on the floor but they later discovered that he had choked on his sick which caused acid to go into his lungs. The process behind his death was very lengthy and hard for us as it did carry on for a very long time. At the hospital he was in the staff had to watch patients very closely, they were recording that they were checking on my dad every 15 minutes but in fact they lied.
As I was so young, the feeling of dealing with grief was very unusual for me and I don’t think I knew what to do with myself. When he passed away, I was back to school after one week off as I just wanted to go back to my usual life. It caused many sleepless nights for me and I think the emotion I felt the most was anger as I didn’t feel like it was fair and I felt let down by those watching over him at the hospital. I didn’t receive much support at the time as I think it took me a while to process what happened and all the emotions I was feeling, I wanted to deal with it myself. However, throughout school I had a life coach who was there to help me and during college I had many sessions with a specialist bereavement councillor. I also started having some more counselling just before Christmas which I have once a week, just to help me with my emotions. I think it has affected my mental health as I was very young, it was difficult to grow up without my dad there by my side. I was at the age where I was just starting to understand what kind of person my dad was. I had a lot of anger built up towards his death which I think contributes to who I am today as I still feel bitter about my past. I also found it scary that my mum is the only parent I have so it definitely made me closer with her.
Around 9 months after my dad passed away, my close family decided to move down to Devon which was a good feeling for me. It felt like a fresh start and I didn’t have to stay in the same area where it all started. However, I still have family in Hertfordshire so when I go back, it is nice to remember all the memories we had and see the houses we used to live in over the years. I think my life has changed massively since my dad died as it affected me a lot as we were very close and had similar interests which meant we spent a lot of time together. I started a memory box after he died which contains many sentimental objects such as the poem I wrote for his funeral, a birthday card he gave me and the letter I wrote him which went with him. This memory box helped me a lot as I am able to remember how I felt and how much he means to me. It is nice to reflect on the old memories we had and remember the life that he had. I also used to read the text messages between us and I started a playlist of the songs which remind me of him, which I still add to today.
I think with bereavement, it is different for each individual which can cause them to react in many different ways. It can be very difficult for the people around you as it is hard for them to know what to say. I used to get frustrated at my friends because it was hard to talk to them about it, but I understand now that they struggled with what to say. It made me realise I can’t rely on those around me and I needed some separate support. It made me realise that life is incredibly precious and you must cherish every moment you have with your family and friends. I found that my favourite way to distract myself is to go out with my friends or go for a walk with my dogs.
Being part of the braver community makes me feel strong when I reflect back on my journey. I think about my dad every single day and can finally talk about him and go to family events without getting upset. I feel proud that my story may help those out there going through bereavement at this time.