Six months in and I really should have this sussed out by now… not done, not understood but well versed; it’s been a rough ride and the worst maybe yet to come. Six months ago, I lost my dad, my rock, my first and my greatest love; he was only 67, it was the cruellest twist that life has dealt me to date. Whilst it was to be expected one day, it really wasn’t expected that day – there is no comfort to be taken from the circumstances, it wasn’t quick, it wasn’t painless, and it certainly wasn’t planned.
I held his hand to his last breath, I kept us all together, I made the decision’s that will haunt me forever, I drove my mum home in my dad’s car, I dealt with the coroner, the funeral director, the solicitors, the florist, the vicar, the, the, the…. I don’t know what or how I did these things but when the time comes you do it to the best you can.
My amazing husband held me up, I went back to work two days later, back into the fold of the most supportive, Galliford Try Partnerships work family, anyone could wish for. I talked, and I talked yet I didn’t feel a thing. There were no tears, I am a tough cookie that just gets on with life; I wouldn’t want to distress anyone else with my tears. ‘If I cry, then we really are in trouble team’ – that’s what my inner voice tells me anyway. Those, most who have never experienced loss didn’t know how to approach me, what to say but it didn’t matter because I just spoke, of course I spared them the detail, but I told them what happened and how I felt, and I kept telling them. Those who had already walked in my shoes came and sat with me, shared, cried and talked – these were the directors of our business, my leaders, my supporters, my friends.
I had a single message for the whole team:
‘We are on a great project, with a sizeable team over several years and things are going to some of us within the team; we are a family and we will all be here for each other’.
The funeral was hard, I read the eulogy, I carried his coffin, I collected his ashes – in the end that is all I could do for him -it’s not much and people probably judged but I didn’t care that was my dad. My dad, the man who held my hand, walked me down the aisle, made the speech. Yes, on the day I cried pretty much as scripted, I spoke to his work colleague and I learned more about him as the man they worked with, the leader, the just man, the friend that day than I had ever realised.
That was the second wave, a smaller less powerful wave of emotion that pushed me from the first wave.
The First Wave
The first wave is harder to explain, the first wave washed over me the night of my wedding, I thought I was exhausted, overwrought the tears started after saying goodnight to my guests and streamed well into my honeymoon. It could be that my first marriage simply wasn’t meant to be, hindsight can provide all sorts of explanations. In the years after I came to understand that this was grief, what I now know as the first wave; as I embarked on my first marriage I grieved for losing my life before, I grieved for the changing dynamic in my relationship with my dad. This sounds a very strange concept, even to me telling you this now, to me he had literally given me away, of course he would always be my dad but, to me it was a very real and raw emotion that ebbed and flowed into more gentler waves of life’s up’s and downs.
A few times in the years that followed we had been on the brink of life and death, my twins arrived into this world very prematurely and straight into the trauma of NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) teetering on the edge of life and death for months. A few years later and dad got Pneumonia after returning from holiday, it was touch and go for a while, but everything life had to throw at us we got through, born survivors battle ready warriors. To be honest site was not a great place for me during any of these times, I didn’t feel supported in any way, shape or form and was very much pushed to the edge to deal with life’s blows. Whilst I am fortunate to now be in a business that truly cares for its staff, not all businesses are the same and looking back I wished I had contacted Lionheart.
So here I am caught in the third wave, this feels like a Tsunami of overwhelming pain and grief that I did not see coming, I am inconsolable it just hit me last Monday and I have no idea what, how or where this came from let alone how to deal with it. There is no time frame, no manual to grieve it hurts and affects everyone differently.
I picked up the phone on Monday afternoon to our Employee Assistance Line, I couldn’t get my words out, I hung up several times. That was undoubtedly one of the hardest calls I have ever had to make in my life, the words stuck in my throat as I told the lady that answered the phone ‘I think I need some help’, 30 minutes later I hung up and felt a wave of relief that I reached out. On Tuesday that I felt fine and maybe I hadn’t needed to make that call, I told everyone at work, not because I had to but because they are on this journey with me and it is ok to not be ok. I am doing mostly ok and then I have moments of absolute despair, my thoughts and feelings have been like the weather this week, brilliant sunshine one minute, clouds and heavy rain the next.
Yes, I am having the best time in my career and my work with the RICS, I am striving and achieving, enjoying this my life. I have recently returned from an incredible holiday in Thailand but don’t be deceived look beyond the smiles – this is hard, this is painful, and I wouldn’t wish this on anyone.
I am starting bereavement counselling sessions, I will let you know how those go but above all else let’s just keep talking it really helps – we are all in this together and here for each other.
Prior to publishing this piece, may be by co-incidence (more likely that I have started talking) one of the Lionheart counsellors has reached out to me though linked-in – you know who you are and Thank you for your kindness, caring and having my back.