It's six months today since my dad died and I've found it very hard to come to terms with. I think his death coming just seventeen months after we lost my mum has made it even harder to deal with.
Looking back, I think the death of my mum hit me in a different way, basically because my dad was still here and needed my help and support with day to day things. It made me put my own grief to one side in order to support him. It's very hard to explain but I also think I'd come to terms with losing her once already to dementia, so although I was still devastated, I'd dealt with my grief already to some extent.
My dad was taken into hospital at the peak of the coronavirus pandemic during lockdown and we weren't allowed to visit him in hospital for the first week of his stay. He was poorly when he was taken in though he was still aware and alert, but during that first week I received a phone call from him which was heartbreaking. He was speaking very child-like, we'd been told that he was suffering from delirium, and he told me he didn't think he'd be coming out again and that he didn't believe he'd ever see me again. The hardest thing after receiving a call like this was the fact that I was unable to go in and see him. I still think about this call all the time. It was like he was pleading with me to help him.
After he'd been in hospital a week we received a phone call from the consultant asking us to meet him. We were told that my dad didn't seem to be getting any better but they were still treating him and they were still hoping to see an improvement. I was allowed to go in and see him for ten minutes which I was so grateful for. I could see he was in a lot of pain and it was difficult for him to talk but he was able to make himself understood. I knew it didn't look good so I made sure that I told him I loved him and we said our goodbyes as I didn't know if I'd get to see him again.
Four days later we were asked to go in and see the consultant again. This time they basically told us that the treatment wasn't working and that it was now just a matter of time. We were allowed to visit whenever we wanted from here on in but only one person by his bedside at once, though this was relaxed and two of us were allowed to visit together in his final couple of days. In just those four days between us meeting with the consultant he'd deteriorated so much that he could no longer speak, although he was trying to. One of the things that haunts me now is that I know he wanted to say something but I don't know what it was. He was also in so much pain. They kept dosing him up with painkillers but they didn't seem to touch him. I was willing him to die just to get out of the pain.
It was another five days before my dad eventually passed away and it was a relief at the end, he'd suffered so much and it was a terrible death.
We couldn't have the funeral we wanted, we were allowed just ten people at the crematorium and no gathering afterwards. We all had to sit separately in the crematorium, even those from the same household were made to sit apart. I found this so hard, I couldn't even comfort Eleanor who cried through the whole service. There are still restrictions now on the number of people who are allowed at funerals. We'll have some sort of gathering in the future when we're allowed, to celebrate my dad's life. The one thing he'd want is for us to raise a glass to him and he'd be put out if that didn't happen! Hopefully we'll be able to organise something in 2021.
We've spent a lot of time dealing with my dad's affairs since his death and this continues now. Mick's the executor and he's spent an awful lot of time sorting things out. My dad left a will, a couple of bank accounts and his flat and it's all quite straightforward and yet we've had so much paperwork to deal with, goodness knows what it's like for the relatives of those with more complicated estates.
My dad's death has been a very different experience than that of my mum's, mainly because of how he died, I can't think of anything other than the pain he suffered. His death has also brought the loss of my mum to the fore again and I think of them both so very often, especially so at the moment. I'm not sure what it is but Christmas does seem to bring our loved ones who are no longer with us to the forefront of our minds.
Time is a funny thing, it doesn't seem nearly twenty months since my mum died yet it seems much longer than six months since my dad died. Our lives have changed dramatically in this time, we used to be visiting umpteen times a day and doing such a lot for him that it took up a great deal of time and in a way there's now an emptiness there.
We've had a hard couple of years, I know the thing most people will remember 2020 for is coronavirus, for me it will be the loss of my dad, and 2019 the loss of my mum, but we have to remember that it hasn't all been bad. We've had celebrations too in 2020 with Eleanor and Jacob's engagement and this reminds us that for all the sadness and despair, life does go on, time stretches out ahead of us and the future is to be lived.