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When grief and motherhood collide

March 2, 2018

My Grandad died at the beginning of August, six weeks before my son was due to be born. He had been ill for a long time and in hospital so although sad, it wasn’t totally unexpected. “These things happen in families,” everyone said. “One person dies just as another is preparing to be born”. I believed them.

And then my Dad died.

Dad died of a heart attack very suddenly and unexpectedly. He was a strong outdoorsy man who worked as a walking guide across Europe for a travel company. He died in abroad and the paperwork involved in bringing a body back from a different country delayed the funeral until it became a race against time.

On Monday 19 September 2016, I gave the eulogy at my Dad’s funeral. Four days later, I gave birth to my first child.

This is my experience of grief.

  • Losing a parent shakes the very core of your being. You lose your foundations and part of who you are. I felt like my roots had been torn from me and I no longer knew who I was.
  • The concept of death is very hard to get your head around. It’s hard to understand that they’ll never get older and they’re stuck in time. I still struggle with it now.
  • It’s true that grief comes in waves. Beyond that though, I was an empty shell of a person and just a body with nothing inside.
  • I had guilt. Guilt of the impact the shock was having on my unborn child. Guilt when he was a newborn that I was failing him as a mother because I was so overwhelmed by grief and the damage this might do to him. And guilt towards the rest of my family because I had invoked the one in one out policy by selfishly deciding to have a child.
  • I spoke to medical professionals because I was worried about postnatal depression and postnatal anxiety. Luckily, I escaped both, which is fortunate as I was offered a paper towel by a GP to dry my tears with and told to come back if I didn’t feel better in a few weeks.
  • I was overwhelmed by panic. If this could happen so suddenly to my Dad, could it happen again? My heart would start beating until it was the only sound I could hear.
  • Grief is really lonely and isolating even though you are not the only one going through it.
  • I honestly thought I would never be happy again.
  • Once the grief became less raw, I struggled with that too. It felt like my feelings and memories were fading and I was losing him all over again.
  • I’m having to navigate a new normal. It’s hard to attend family events without the overwhelming sadness of there being one person missing whilst also celebrating my own new family.
  • People deal with grief in different ways. This has caused issues in my family and arguments which I’m not sure will ever be resolved.
  • Some family members have moved on quicker than me, whilst I’m still coming to terms with it all. I feel like everything is changing and I’m just not ready to yet.
  • So I’m angry. I’m angry at Dad because he caused all of this and now he’s not here to sort it out.
  •  But beyond all of that, I look at my nearly 18-month old son and think how sad it is that he never got to meet his Grandad who would have loved him so much.
  • Reply
    DawnSeeker / DawnHoof
    March 2, 2018 at 5:43 pm

    So sorry for your loss . . . I lost my Dad to a heart attack one night when I was 16, back in 1970. It sucks! But his Life still flows through my veins, and I hear him shout out directions to me every now and again :)) He’s still here, if I take the time to tune in. Best to you!!! Dawn

    https://journalofdawn.wordpress.com/2013/06/07/you-can-do-anything/
    https://journalofdawn.wordpress.com/20150325family-of-flying/

    • Reply
      365 days of wellbeing
      March 3, 2018 at 9:41 am

      Dawn, thank you. I really needed to hear that. I went through a period of feeling really switched on to my Dad and seeing signs from him everywhere (even an article in my office inbox about returning to work after maternity leave by a journalist with the same name as my Dad). Recently I’ve got a bit lost in grief, but I feel a bit better today and I feel inspired to start looking out for my dad again. Thank you, Nicky ✨

      • DawnSeeker / DawnHoof
        March 5, 2018 at 1:16 am

        Best to you, Nicky — it comes and goes in waves, and always will . . . Keep looking for those signs, and I’ll do the same :))

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