A heavily personal post from me today. To mark UK Father’s Day 2020, I thought I’d discuss my dad, my grief and how losing him has changed how I see Father’s day now.
Firstly, a content warning, I’ll be discussing grief, bereavement and bits and pieces of medical stuff here, so I’d suggest skipping this post if any of those are likely to significantly upset you or bring up any of your own experiences.
I guess if I was to explain this post in a sentence it’s exploring the opposite side of father’s day. As I said in the mini introduction, the publication of this post coincides with UK father’s day 2020 and is also a couple of days short of the 2-year anniversary of my own dad’s passing. Since he passed away, I’ve begun to see Father’s day in a different light. Of course, there are those who have been father figures to me that I can still celebrate. Men like my own stepdad, who has been there for me for years whilst my dad was still here and has continued to be there for me since my dad passed away. But father’s day is still different. All the emails from brands and venues about father’s day gifts and reminders, and every blogger “father’s day gift guide” that I see is a stinging reminder every single time that my dad is no longer with us. Now, I’m not saying don’t write that content or for brands not to send those emails, I just don’t think we see this side of the situation as often (how people approach certain days and occasions after a bereavement). So, I thought I’d explain my side of it and how fathers’ days is different now.
I didn’t see my dad often, we lived at pretty much opposite ends of the country for a good portion of my life, so I never made a very big deal of father’s day. I’d just send him a “happy father’s day” message, and a present if I could find a particularly good one that I thought he’d enjoy. Oh, how I regret that now he’s no longer here, I so wish I’d made a bigger deal of Father’s day when he was here.
Father’s day was different once I’d received a phone call that turned my world upside down, telling me that my dad was ill and that we’d have to rush up to the hospital (hundreds of miles away). I didn’t fully know what was going on, but I knew I had to organise and sort everything to be ready to drive up to the hospital in the morning. It’s pretty difficult to organise your life when it feels like the world’s spun on its axis and the ground’s dropped out from beneath you all at once.
Father’s day becomes different because all I can remember is my dad’s last father’s day with him in the ICU (Intensive Care Unit). All of us (I have siblings) bringing cards and wishing him a happy father’s day. I can’t tell you how heart-breaking that was being unable to know what he thought of his cards or if he could actually hear us.
Father’s day is different when I realise that I spent the whole lead up to that day 2 years ago (basically the whole of June) discovering that the man I thought was invincible and immortal (because everyone thinks their parents are immortal right) actually wasn’t.
Father’s day becomes different when I remember the days and nights I spent trying to sleep in an ICU waiting room or relatives room wondering if dad was ok whilst the rest of us slept. Terrified to go to sleep in case he wasn’t with us when I woke up. Begging for someone to sit with him whilst I slept so that he wasn’t alone if something did happen.
Father’s day is different when I remember that, instead of spending those June days chatting to dad and planning our trip to Madrid, I was cancelling the trip and wondering if I’d be helping to plan a funeral instead.
Father’s day will be different when I go to text him that same “ happy father’s day” message and realise I can’t because he won’t respond anymore.
Father’s day will always be different when every sentence talking about that wonderful man has to start with “dad was …” and not “dad is …”.
I’m not sure where I was going with this blog post. But what I’m saying is: Beyond the brands “father’s day” emails and adverts and the bloggers “ father’s day gift guides”, there’s a different side, a different feeling to father’s day for me and those like me who no longer have the man we call dad with us. And I think that should be talked about more.
Happy father’s day, dad. I love you and I’ll miss you forever
All my love