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Things I Wish I Knew Before Losing A Parent

By Jack Knight


Losing a parent is one of the worst things in the world. I would not wish it on anyone. Probably not even Trump. It really does suck that bad. Obviously, death is a part of the cycle of life and everyone will die at some point. Yes, even you. Even that sweet old lady that gives you a 20p every time she sees you, your favourite teacher from primary school, and even your beautiful black labrador. So one day you will wake up and you won’t be given 20p, or one day you’ll wake up and walk past your old school and wonder “Hmm, I wonder what that teacher is doing today”, blissfully unaware to the fact that they were put 6ft under at least 10 years ago because who really pays attention to their primary school teachers? And yes, even one day you will wake up, get out of bed and not be greeted by a wonderful ball of black fluff (this honestly breaks my heart just thinking about it and I don’t even have a dog).


I know people that have reacted in different ways to death whether it be through anger, despair, isolation, or even pure joy.

Ok, on with the story but first, a little context. My Dad found out he had terminal cancer in July 2017 and was given approximately 3 months to live. He then passed in the following June. I also was entering into my third year at university and honestly, at times it felt like I was living in a pressure cooker. Anyway, I’m not here to lecture you about death and grief and how you should love every single second with your parents because we all know there are definitely times where you cannot do that. Sorry mum. I’m here to tell you about the things I wish I knew before my Dad passed.




#1 - GRIEF IS NOT SIMPLE


Grieving is the most messed up thing on the planet. Psychologists say there are 7 stages of grief and honestly I don’t think so. Obviously, I, a 23-year-old drama graduate, know better than psychologists and I say there are at least 100. I kept trying to monitor my stages and be like ‘oh I’m now at stage 3 which means I get to be angry’. NO. That's not how it works. I went back and forth between my ‘stages’ for a very long time. In the two years that my Dad has been dead and gone, I have felt every emotion under the sun. Most of the time I was/still am stuck at stage 5 (that's a joke for all you psychology nuts out there). You can tell yourself it’s going to happen and that you’re prepared for it and you can have all the counselling you want but it still won’t stop you from feeling a thousand different emotions in the space of an hour and when you have the emotional range of a small wineglass, like myself, it is terrifying.



#2 - FACES. EVERYWHERE FACES


WHY DID NO ONE TELL ME THAT YOU WILL SEE THEIR FACE EVERYWHERE. WHO THE FUCK DECIDED THAT WOULD BE A GOOD THING TO NOT TELL SOMEONE. I started my job not too long after my dad's passing and I nearly had a panic attack when I first saw his face. And working in a restaurant, I was seeing him at least 10 times in one night. It was tragic. It was definitely the grief or my Dad was just very generic looking. I still can’t decide. But apparently, this is a very common thing and no one told me about it until I went into counselling and my counsellor confirmed it. It also didn’t help my situation when I found out that this is only supposed to last a year. It also scared me shitless when my psychology teacher told me that if it lasts over a year, then you should probably get some sort of help. Once again, thank you brain for making me feel special.



#3 - SUPPRESSION IS THE WORST SUPERPOWER


I had a lot of horrible thoughts during this process. I won’t go into detail because I would still like to have friends at the end of this. I took up a lot of activities to try and distract myself from all of these feelings I was trying to suppress. I started applying for jobs in record breaking time and started work as soon as somewhere would have me. I started driving lessons, which looking back now, letting a boy who had just lost his father go zooming down the motorway at 70 mph probably wasn’t the best idea. My bad. I think most of all, I was doing all of this because I didn't really want to feel anything. I was smiling and telling everyone that I was fine because I had genuinely convinced myself that I was. I thought it was best just to carry on as usual. An emotionally intelligent person would realise that this was not a good attitude to have. I was/ am not an emotionally intelligent person. Suppression is the worst superpower to have because whilst it was great at the time and I could carry on for months and months without feeling anything, what goes down must come up or something like that. You can’t hold everything in forever. It’s definitely not the healthiest of superpowers and I would definitely prefer teleportation but I would also prefer for my Dad to not be dead so we can’t all get what we want.


#4 - NOTHING BUT PRIDE


“Your dad would be so proud of you” honestly if I had a pound for every time I heard that I would be able to buy his approval, after I paid for his resurrection, because that is how much I have heard that saying in the past two years. I know people are trying to be nice. I know they’re trying to be supportive, but I know my Dad would’ve been proud of me for cooking a three course meal without burning the house down. I know he would’ve been proud of the fact that I learned how to screw in a lightbulb without shattering the bulb in my hand (happened more than once). I know my Dad would’ve been proud of me for passing my drivers test on my 4th attempt without threatening the driving examiner (that's what he did, I promise he was a nice person he was just a little bit rough). I know people have good intentions and they’re saying what they think that I want to hear but it's not. I know my Dad would be proud of me and I don’t need Karen who knew my Dad for a hot second telling me that she knew how he would’ve reacted to my endeavours.




There are so many things I wish I could add to this list. But alas, I am tired (a side effect of stage 5). I do hope these few things give some reassurance to anyone who is going through something similar. It does get slightly better.


The pain gets easier.


These are simply things I wish I knew before I lost my Dad. It would’ve made the following months a lot easier. Finally, if you’re struggling and in need of help, it is not a sign of weakness to ask for it. Whether you ask for help from your friends and family or even your GP. Please do not suffer in silence. Don’t forget to love each other.


Jack x


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