Unexpected loss of my dad, my best friend. Feel I should have done more.
Hello, I feel vulnerable typing this but the words seem to be flowing as fast as my tears.
A few weeks ago I found my father passed away in his bed at only 69. He was always early to rise and seize the day, yet that day I rose from my slumber before him, it immediately felt wrong, and as I knocked on his door reality hit me like a brick. There, before my eyes I saw my father, a man who's strength, patience and generosity made him 11 foot tall and bulletproof to me, laying on his back in bed, so still, so still... far too still.
I immediately tried to wake him by shaking him, then breathed into his mouth before beginning CPR, but as I compressed his chest I heard one of his ribs or bones make a sound which terrified me and caused me to panic, knocking over his table before running outside to call the police.
I have been in denial, and keeping busy has kept a lot at bay, but in the past 6 or so days it has felt as if my entire body has caved in, I have broken down multiple times per day drenching myself in tears and searching for reasons to stay on this plane.
His death was such a shock, I still recall his final words 'I'm off to bed, goodnight' I never thought in a million years, that goodnight would turn out to be goodbye.
I have felt so much guilt owing to my circumstances for the past few years.
See as an adult I had to go back to him for help in rebuilding my life, so he was my beacon in the dark world, raised me as a single father from a child, and now too as a man.
I cannot repay what I owe to him, he sacrificed everything for me, yet only ever asked of me to be happy and live a good life.
Other guilt stems from the thought that I did not provide CPR for long enough, once I heard his rib I felt as if I were hurting him and fell apart, I know that I did not hurt him, yet I cannot shake that remorse, I also regret the few days before he passed as he was so tired and lethargic, he was recently recovering from a bout of shingles and a slight chest infection so we both assumed that was the reason for his tiredness, but I feel I should have done something, forced him to go to the GP or something...I never thought he would go to bed Monday night and never wake up, I don't think he did either.
I have been talking to his photo and recording myself on his phone, have asked him to take me away too, yet I know he gave too much of himself for me to throw it all away.
I put on a brave face for others but his phone holds my truth, miss you man, I am trying dad.
Each day is much more exhausting and difficult than the previous, the amount of time I feel this way is increasing daily. Where once I would feel this mostly when I wake up, or during the night, now I break down and feel lost for the majority of the day, only brief snippets of non pain seems to break through.
I vacuum sealed dad's clothing, I can't find his hat.
I told my grief counsellor how I am feeling, I feel bad seeing her feel me slipping, I told her how I feel lost, and seem to not be able to do what I could before. We created a plan together that felt so great, I was slowly engaging back into life, study, volunteer, support group, reconnect with my friends, but lockdown took it all away with the stroke of a pen.
I feel as if I was climbing up a sheer cliff, and just as I had one arm at the top, my fingers were trampled upon and I lost my grip.
She told me that how much people care about me, that she cares, she wanted to rearrange her schedule to accommodate more telehealth sessions, but she has already gone above and beyond, what she has given me I could never repay, even in a million lifetimes.
I hate telehealth, I wish I could give her a huge hug, I don't want her to feel as if she is failing.
I understand her job is to help me, but I see sorrow in her eyes at my suffering, and I am so sorry for that, you are a wonderful person, please know that.
Each day feeling a black hole tearing me from inside out, I don't know if it is moving after being stuck in one hallway for almost a year, the anniversary of dad with father's day, I don't know.
I just don't have any more energy reserves to continually pull myself back up.
In 12 months I have lost dad, lost mum, my brother is sick, my uncle is very sick, and there is nothing I can do about any of it...
Yesterday I walked around all day yet went nowhere, came home, felt crap, so rode my bike all night until light.
My body is here, everything else is not.
Even these words don't give me the sense of unburdening they once did, I don't know what to do now, so I will go for another walk to nowhere,
Hooroo. dad always said that, I rarely hear it nowadays.
We would strongly urge that in overwhelming moments you get in touch with our friends at Lifeline (13 11 14) or the Suicide Call Back Service (1300 659 467). It can be really valuable having a space to talk through some of these feelings with a counsellor.
I'm so sorry to hear lock down has hit you so overwhelmingly hard. While the governments place so much focus on our physical well being, I believe there's nowhere near enough focus put on our mental well being under these circumstances. Lock downs test some far more intensely than others, such as yourself. My heart truly goes out to you.
You're so blessed to have a therapist who feels so deeply for you. She sounds like such a beautiful person. If she's a deeply empathetic person, she'll feel your pain and struggle to some degree. That's not your fault, it's her ability (to feel). I believe if she was a more analytical/somewhat emotionally detached person, you perhaps wouldn't be such a good match regarding your mental health and navigating the way forward. I imagine, being in such a profession, she would have covered learning skills in emotional detachment in order to preserve her own mental health.
Of course, I don't have to tell you that you're covering one challenge after another after another after another and so on. You're facing one of the most enormous and intense learning curves a person can face in life while having to learn how to master and understand the curve and yourself at the same time and doing it all at high speed. To add to it, it is one major overwhelmingly emotional curve. On top of this, just when you feel you're beginning to master the curve in some way, lock down sabotages self mastering. it's just so cruel. I bet your therapist feels the cruelty of it too.
How does someone make their way through what feels like complete sh*t? How does someone make their way through what is dark, what stinks and what is truly horrible? I suppose, making your way through implies you enter and you come out the other side at some point. The question then becomes about how dark does the sh*t get and how long does it take to make your way through it. Your therapist sounds like she holds the ability to shed light. I imagine she's contemplating a whole stack of possibilities when it comes to what will make some difference to you (during lock down). She's in it with you through the tough times as well as the breakthroughs. There will be a learning curve for her also, one you're taking her through as a person and as a professional. I imagine, during this learning experience, she feels the need to connect with you more and she feels it deeply. Do you feel you can help her fulfill this need, for her to continue learning from you and supporting you?
Thank you Sophie, you always seem to be there to care, a value the worlds need much of these days days.
And thank you therising,
Your words have brought so much to me ever since I joined here, I have not slept much so I cannot really express in the right way, I just wanted to say thanks.
And as for my counsellor, I hope she can cope, we have had more frequent sessions, and I have been contacting her through Email as well, which I feel a bit guilty about. I know it is her job, but sometimes I want her to be free of me and the burden I bring to her, though she is so strong, I don't want to constantly place so much weight upon her shoulders, mine are exhausted, I want her to breathe a bit if that makes sense.
Right now I am in the most difficult point, it is within these hours that dad passed last year, and I feel myself not feeling right.
I know she must be so attuned to me, as she has given me emergency contact number, and other things, I feel so bad that she can see me struggling, that is what I worry so much about, that if something happens, she will blame herself or something.
It is something she noticed in me, I think previously you may have too, that I seem to care more about how others feel, rather than how I feel.
I guess it stems from being so selfish for so many years, I thought only of myself then, and lost everyone I love, so now I try to make sure others are okay.
I don't want to hurt her, as she has literally saved my life, without her I would be trapped, I can't really go into it, but she helped me with everything from basic everyday life, to accommodation and more.
This is why it is so difficult for me now, to feel as low and lost as I do, the trajectory we were on before lockdown was going up, I think we would be in a great place now, I would be back in study, volunteering, reconnecting with my friends, see my uncle, she would be so happy.
I really wanted to have this done and see her one final time to say thank you and walk off into the sunset with her watching me with satisfaction and pride, but instead we lost months to emptiness.
I don't even know how many sessions we have had, if she is out of pocket because of me, another guilt I hold, I feel I am wasting her time, she could be helping someone more worthy, though she tells me I am worth it, I am worth it.
All of these months lost, I cannot repay her, all she has done, I wish I could be okay and say look at me now, look what we did, we could have made it without lockdown.
I wish I was there sitting beside you as you face the painful anniversary of your dad's passing. What an absolutely massive trigger. I'm so incredibly proud of you, that you have come so far, to reach this point. I know it has been seriously far from easy. You have incredible strength, strength you will be able to recognise easily in others who have experienced the deep almost soul destroying pain that can come with grief and personal reformation.
I can relate to graduating from self serving to feeling for others. I never expected such a graduation to be so confronting. I imagine you can relate to the many challenges that come with developing your ability to feel for others. When you begin to feel for others, you begin to feel the pain you've caused them in the past. Sharing their pain for the first time can hurt, sometimes deeply. It's like you don't even want to share, you more so want to take it away from them so as to give them the freedom to not feel it. This is a sign of incredible growth.
If your counselor's fully conscious of her abilities as an empath, I imagine she has ways of managing. Perhaps you could give yourself permission to ask her. For a well developed empath, they will not only feel for people, they may literally feel a person's pain, like it's their own. I've heard empaths say that someone does not even have to tell them of the pain they're in. Someone with this ability, while in the presence of another, may feel aching in the chest (heartache) and a choking sensation in the throat (being choked up) and will ask the person if they're in physical or emotional pain, much to that person's surprise. I actually work with a woman like this. She can sense my moods within minutes of me walking into the room. I also work with someone who has the stunning ability to sense when a staff member's in the early stages of pregnancy. I've heard her say to a couple of gals 'You're pregnant!'. That well kept secret goes out the door, as she's known for her 100% accuracy rate. I work in aged care, surrounded by a lot of sensitives.
It pains me to think that while developing your ability to feel so deeply, life threw you such incredible pain. It's not fair that you should have to feel your way through such pain at this stage of your growth. Couldn't life have thrown you love instead, to feel your way through? I suppose it did. You found it in your dad and you're still feeling it. I hope you also feel it through your counsellor and through me.
I don’t understand where I am right now.
Father’s day I
thought was rock bottom, I wandered around aimlessly, lost and alone,
walking for hours in the middle of the night.
The heaviness and feeling of loss became so great that I almost lost myself to it, sometimes it can envelope and consume me to the point where I could feel myself either about to pass out or..I don’t know.
I remember waking by the sea, freezing, as if I had sat there for hours without realising it.
That sorrow has lingered long.
I have told my counsellor how sad I feel after Tele-health sessions, wishing I could be beside her and feel safe, only to give her more problems of how to alleviate a bit of that feeling, I know I am putting pressure on her to resume face-to-face even though it is out of her control as to when we can return.
And that hurts me so much, I don’t want to cause her any problems, I want her to be the amazing person she is, sometimes I think it would be so much better if she were free of me, even though I need her help so very much.
I know she must have training and support to help her not become too attached, but when I feel like giving up, I think if it would hurt her, and I don't want her to hurt. She saved me, and changed my life so much, how can I hurt her by falling.
I don’t know why the pendulum of grief swings back with such force.
She gave me so much support in our recent session, I went out and did so many things after that, I have enrolled in further study, and finally found some volunteer opportunities after all of this time.
I was so happy, that I emailed her the news, she is proud of the growth I have achieved, see her smile, makes me happy.
I was so up, then yesterday and today the pendulum has swung back, and hit me hard.
I am trying to things, be the man I can be, who dad, and mum, would be proud of, my counsellor told me she is honoured that she and I are sharing this journey, I respect her so.
Yet now I feel my losses even more profoundly.
I miss dad so much, I have been crying and lost for two days, I can’t sleep with nightmares, even though my counsellor helped my sleep before this week, I want to show dad all I am doing, I just want to see him again.
I feel so low and filled with sorrow, even though I have done so much, and there is so much good on the horizon.
It seems as if the more I walk back into life, the more the pain from not having dad hits.
As if I am being punished for trying to do what he would want me to.
Fathers Day must have been an incredibly painful trigger for you. What a day of overwhelming grief. For you to have managed to get through it speaks of your undeniable strength.
I can relate to how you feel, regarding wanting that in person contact with your counselor. I have someone in my life who's a guide for me when it comes to the more soulful aspect of self and life. When I meet with him, it's like he just oozes this incredible sense of peace and calm that I'm yet to find in another person. He also has a lighthearted very humorous side. While feeling kind of scrambled and down while in certain parts of lockdown here in Melbourne, my daughter suggested I set up a time to see this guy, as he's always offered incredible guidance. I prefer to wait 'til he starts in person consults, as opposed to connecting through online ones. Online, I wouldn't be able to fully get a sense of his presence, his calm, peace and lightheartedness. While online consults can be of great service, it's like the volume's seriously turned down when it comes to feeling the full presence of another. Whether it be a counselor or school teacher, the ones who love making a connection in person are so desperate to get back to that setting, to feel that connection. I imagine your counselor's one of those people.
I recall my mum speaking of the triggers after her own mum's passing. My mum loved her so deeply and therefor felt so many triggers, so deeply. She struggled through some of the triggers you speak of yourself. With new things she introduced into her life, she felt compelled to tell her mum of them yet remembered she couldn't. It was so hard for her to take up new things without feeling deeply upset. When my siblings and myself hit certain milestones in our young lives (following my Nan's passing), my mum felt compelled to share these milestones with her mum yet remembered she couldn't. And with every deep challenge my mum faced, she remembered her counselor (her mum) wasn't there. It was in finding others to share such things with that led her to gradually move forward, slowly and painfully I should add. The space your dad left as counselor in your life has been filled to a degree by an amazing woman. I imagine others will come to fill some of the other spaces over time. They may never fill them as perfectly yet they may simply come to lessen the impact of the triggers. Perhaps hard to imagine at this point.
Can't help but wonder what you've chosen as further study 🙂
I've been think a lot about you lately which has led me to this moment, checking up to see how you're going. I thought maybe you wanted a bit of a break from the forums here and I didn't want to lead you to not have that break you might have needed. I'm hoping the break may have led you to make significant progress through such intensely challenging times. I also hope you managed to return to your in person sessions with your counselor, someone who's made such a difference to you on your path.
If you don't feel like responding, no problem. Only do it if you feel the need. No pressure at all 🙂