thanks in advance for taking the time to read my story. Some of the stories on here have helped me.
December 20th 2020 my dad passed away from sudden cardiac death. He had been suffering from Parkinson's disease for nineteen years, but it wasn't related. He wasn't doing so well taking care of himself, but he was hanging in there and was doing relatively ok. It was hard because he had to give up so much, he couldn't drive anymore, started to fall from his bycicle often. He lived alone and was depending on home care four times a day. Still, he went out and took pictures around the town, as he was always an avid photographer. Nobody thought he would die soon. He always said he wasn't ready for that for a long time. Because of his disease he had a trouble walking and a lot of trouble speaking as well, which made communication difficult. Because his condition was getting worse, my brother, me and my aunt had been talking to him about going to an assisted living facility, which he was adamantly against. But it wouldn't be long before it would be impossible for him to keep going on the way he did.
I live about 1.5 hours away with two small kids and quite a busy job, and unfortunately I didn't visit him as often as I should have, which I now regret. In december of 2020 I had a big promotion at my job, for which I had to take a lot of training. It came with a lot more responsibility and I was still a bit out of my comfort zone. It was the day before my final exam. I'm tearing up again as I write this. That morning I was lying in bed, browsing on my phone, when my brother called. It was odd, because we usually speak a lot on Whatsapp and not so early.
He said, in tears, "it's dad", and I said "well what about him". I thought that maybe he fell, or that he needed help with something, like before when he lost his bank card. When my brother said he died I couldn't believe it. Somebody from home care had found him on the floor, they called the doctor and he confirmed it. I cancelled everything and drove over. I remember on the way home I was so confused what the hell was going on. I genuinely thought that there had been some stupid mistake, that he fell or something, and that we would laugh about it later. I met my brother and my aunt in front of his house and we went inside. And there he was, they put him on his bed. He was lying there, with a strange expression on his face, his mouth and one eye half open, it was awful. My aunt's friend had worked in funeral homes for a while, and offered her help. She came over, together with somebody else, and at that point it was up to us to make decisions about what clothes he had to wear, what kind of casket etc. The whole situation was so strange, there were still dirty dishes and food in his fridge, his camera on the table. After we chose his clothing, my aunt's friend and somebody else made sure he got dressed up nicely and didn't have that awful look on his face anymore.
Luckily my dad had made some whishes clear about what he wanted. He wanted bird sounds during the ceremony, and a simple wood casket. We had to choose if we wanted the ceremony before or after Christmas. We chose to do it before, but then we had to hurry to get everything arranged in time. So I went in to a kind of 'managing'-mode, getting the cards ready, visiting the print shop, thinking about poems we wanted to use. There was a lot to do. Strangely enough, I did it all and even slept like i normally did. During all this, my girlfriend was asking when I would come home, as she was home alone with the kids. Our relationship hadn't been the best allready, but that made me really angry. What was she thinking I was doing here.
The day came to say our goodbyes and it was a beautiful ceremony. Again, i was also busy managing things again. I remember after the ceremony looking at my watch to check how much time there was left as we had made a reservation until a certain time. After that I went home, and there was the Christmas dinner in it's full entirety. I was thinking what the hell is happening here, of course I couldn't get into it at all.
The next thing was that my girlfriend didn't want our kids to know. They were 2 and 3.5 and had met my dad only a few times. I wanted to tell them, but she really insisted I didn't, the reason being she herself had gotten very afraid as a kid after her grandparent had died. Because it was such a big deal for her I reluctantly agreed.
So after that, life kind of went on. I thought that grieving was having the cremation/ceremony and that it would be done or something. After 8 days, I went back to work, passed my exam and that was it. I didn't really think about it that much.
So, fast forward six months later. I was having some trouble sleeping lately. When I finally had my vacation I got sick. It took me a lot longer than usual to get better, and when I finally did I was still so so tired. Against my better judgement I went back to work, thinking a few cups of coffee would do the trick. I was in a hotel somewhere and again couldn't sleep. The next day I was still tired. I got some lunch and I remember sitting down and suddenly I got really really nervous, I got the butterflies in my stomach like I was going to do something very important, but even worse than that. I remember thinking, is this a panic attack or something? I wasn't sure. My brother said he had a few after my dad died and that it was worse than what I experienced. I still had the feeling I was in control, but I really had to watch my breathing to make the feeling lower a little bit.
That afternoon, I went home, I had the feeling once more and since then I have been feeling anxious and stressed out. I wake up sometimes with butterflies and a pounding heart. Other times I'm fine. It talked to a friend and he said "what about your dad and everything that happened?" Even then I wasn't sure that was it. A few days later I was doing some vacuming to get my mind of things and it suddenly hit me.
He is gone. He isn't coming back, it really happened.
I have been going to counseling, which is helping. It's six weeks later and I still don't feel like my old self. In hindsight, I could have seen this coming. The months before this I just lost my 'lust for life', I was lying on the couch a lot, tired, didn't want to do anything anymore, wasn't even bothered with my old hobbies. But I always had trouble talking about my feelings. And what's complicating it is that my parents divorced when I was a baby. We visited him on the weekends until I was 7 years old. Those were the fun, good times, going to the pool together, playing in the garden. But after that it went downhill, because my parents started arguing again, and me and my brother were in the middle of it. This has caused me a lot of pain, and the feeling that part of my youth was taken away from me, and this time is never coming back.
I've always wanted to get a better relationship with my dad, but now it's too late. A lot of things were left unsaid, and I have regrets over not visiting him enough.
My girlfriend never liked him and wants nothing to do with anything about him. I feel quite alone in my grief. I had an old picture from the 'good days' framed and put it in the living room. She wanted me to take it away and has put it facing down several times because she doesn't want to look at it, feeling he doesn't deserve that much attention.
So there it is, my story.