I'm 30. An adult with my own family. I'd never experienced a loss of anyone I love before.
You may have been reading my little piece of the internet last year when my just-turned 51 year old Dad, suddenly, unexpectedly, passed away. Hours after I'd spoken to him about his trip to the dentist that morning. On my husband's 30th birthday. Rather than bring all that up again, I'll just link to it here but please be aware that you may find it distressing.
Despite what I thought would happen when I lost someone dear to me - I do not dream of my Dad. Well, there was one - a couple of days after he passed on. And I'll never forget that dream either, it was like a closure of some sort, but it's scarred me in a way. I wish I'd never dreamt it at all and was still waiting for his first appearance. I struggle to openly, verbally, talk about this dream but I think I'll be OK with typing it.
He was in their kitchen next to my mum, cooking at the hob (he loved his cooking!), but deep down I knew he was dead. I asked my mum what dad would be wearing right now if he was next to her and she said his coat as it was chilly and he'd have just gotten home from work. Dad looked at Mum, then me, and he was confused, if a little scared "What does she mean - I'm wearing a red jumper why can't she see this?" I was incredibly calm at this point in my dream. I walked out of the kitchen into the living room, nodding towards Dad, as if to signal to follow me - which he did.
I had to tell him he was dead. He didn't know he was. He went white as a ghost (apt, I know) and panic started to set into his eyes. Then suddenly, he calmly grabbed his coat and started walking out the door. I called to him "Dad wait", I just wanted a hug or something, I guess. But, he never looked back at me, or the house. He just kept walking and I couldn't catch up with him. That was the last time I "saw him".
Oh, I wasn't OK with typing this! The tears are still flowing as they would if I'd have tried to tell someone this dream.
It's like I banished him from my life by being brutally honest, hurting him, telling him he's no longer with us. Hurting me.
Whilst I remain pleased I got to be with him for his last breath, I struggle - on a daily basis - with flashbacks of being in ICU. His face. His last breath. The long 5 minute wait between that breath to his pulse actually stopping. The rapid colour change in that time. The sound of the machines. The fact that I wasn't a total mess. The fact that I never told him not to be scared. I can be sat on a bus and suddenly, pow, out of nowhere that moment he vomitted plays back in my mind and I have tears rolling down my cheeks.
I have been on Propranalol for the last 4/5 weeks thanks to anxiety. Something I've never ever suffered with. I don't scare easily. I am a strong person - usually. But now, I am unnaturally jumpy at anything and everything. I think it's the flashbacks that cause it more than anything. My body aches from head to toe, something that my GP said was connected to the tension that comes with anxiety, along with the heart palpitations I might add. I worry that I'm no longer the family rock that I was in the immediate weeks and months after my Dad's death. Why am I struggling but no one else seems to be? I'm the eldest. Normally the most rational too! The thing is... I've never ever felt so scared/uneasy in my life and that in itself is a scary thing. My mind is telling me to stop being so stupid, I'm completely rational in my mind but my body seems to be fighting that and hurting/crying/shaking in defiance. I worry that people think I need to 'get over it', afterall, it's been 8 months to the very day today since it happened.
Sometimes, most times, I don't want to talk about him anymore because it hurts too much. I don't want to wallow. I don't want to hurt. Can we just not talk about him for a while until I forget this feeling?
We all die. My Dad worked his arse off just to worry about how ends were going to meet. What was the point in that? When I've had a stressful day, I sit and wonder - why am I bothered? Is it worth getting stressed about? One day, I won't be here. It will all be dark and I'll never ever wake up again. My poor kids will have to feel what I'm feeling, I don't want that to happen. I never want them to feel this, it's not fair. I come to realise that I will never ever see my Dad ever again. What if there's no life after death - I really have had my last look at him. And that wasn't a pretty picture. Great.
The title of this post is "Am I Normal? - Losing a Parent". Now, I know that grief and mourning is different for everyone. I just don't feel normal to me, that's all.
I hope that you reading this now, you may have stumbled across this post whilst trying to self-help - I don't know, but I hope it gives you an idea that what you're going through is not dissimilar to what others experience. Because, I'll be honest, I've also googled "what's normal" but didn't really manage to find anything as rough/personal as this. I could have done with a personal post like this to make me feel a bit better about myself, so I hope this helps you.