About a week ago, my father committed suicide. He had been struggling with Depression and Post Traumatic Stress for longer than I’ve been alive, and he’d attempted it before, a few times. Still, it was a shock, a sudden, unexpected nightmare. And I’m still hoping that any day now, I’ll wake up.
Here’s a thing you should know about me: I’m a daddy’s girl. Always have been, always will be. But then the question has to be asked, how can you be a daddy’s girl when your dad’s dead? I haven’t quite figured that one out yet. It just feels like a piece of me is suddenly missing, a piece that I know I’ll never get back.
I’m the oldest of four, and although my parents weren’t living together, they still loved each other deeply, so being the eldest child I have this responsibility to look after everyone else as they grieve. Not at the expense of myself, or my own emotional wellbeing, but to a certain extent, it’s my job as Big Sister to make sure my brothers are grieving alone, that they know they can lean on me. And I’ve never been very good at any of that. I’m too much of an emotional mess on a good day to be relied upon for that kind of support, and yet here I am.
It’s not just the emotional trauma and upheaval either, it’s the paperwork and the phone calls and the organising and the trying to figure out how we’re going to have a funeral. Because all of that needs to happen, and someone has to do it. We need to clear out his flat before they start charging us rent on it that we can’t afford, we need to call the Army and War pension people to cancel his pension, plus all the smaller stuff like cancelling his Spotify and Netflix and the gas and electricity and internet and probably a bunch of other stuff I haven’t even thought of yet. It’s exhausting and emotionally draining to even think about. And it all has to happen in the period of time that should be dedicated to just... grieving. Just grieving the loss of my dad.
We live with this knowledge, whether we think about it consciously or not, that at some point our parents are going to die and we’re going to have the bury them. For most people who’ve never lost a parent, it’s an abstract thought, maybe in passing after losing a grandparent or when watching TV. Because it’s something that isn’t going to happen for years, not until you’re much older and your parents are like 90. It’s not supposed to happen when you’re a child, my twelve-year-old brother shouldn’t know what losing a parent feels like. It shouldn’t even happen when you’re twenty-five. Because maybe one day I’ll get married, and my dad won’t be there, maybe one day I’ll have kids who’ll never meet their grandfather. And it breaks my heart anew every time I think it.
I’m not mad at my dad for what happened, I know personally what an awful crippling thing it is to live with the depression and the suicidal thoughts. But I do wish it hadn’t happened, I do wish he’d reached out to someone, one of his doctor’s or his parents, or just… someone.
So this is me, the daughter of a brilliant, broken man, asking you to please, please ask for help if you need it. Because maybe you feel like the people you love would be better off without out, maybe you feel like they wouldn’t care that much, but I’m here to tell you that you’re wrong. I will spend the rest of my life loving and missing the best dad in the world, and knowing that he didn’t have to die, knowing that he should have been there with me.
So reach out for help, there are many crisis lines that can offer support, a few of which are linked below.
“Sometimes even to live is an act of courage.” ― Lucius Annaeus Seneca