real life

"Then my world broke...."

Kasey with her dad

by KASEY DRAYTON

Some days when I see a photo of Dad,  I feel like someone has punched me in the stomach and I’m winded. Then on other days I can walk by the picture, without pausing to cry.

It’s been 10 weeks since my Dad died and I’ve been on the merry-go-round of grief since that very late night phone call.  It was sudden and so unexpected. He’d only just celebrated his 74th birthday. When my husband answered the phone at 1 am and walked to my side of the bed, he said gently, “It’s not good news.” Then my world broke.

There’s apparently five classic stages of grief – denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Some days I feel I experience all 5 stages at once and other days I feel I am still stuck at stage one.  I go to ring Dad and realise as the phone is ringing but he’s not going to pick up. I go to tell him something funny and realise he’s not going to laugh. Ever. Again.

Some friends have avoided me because they don’t know what to say or how to handle my grief.  I get that and don’t judge them for it.  Those friends who’ve experienced death and loss have been wonderful, offering a shoulder to cry on, bringing over nourishment for me when I didn’t want to cook and just being there for me by simply saying “I have no idea what to say to comfort you but I’m here now so let’s have that cuppa…”

Dad asked me years ago to deliver his eulogy and I don’t really know how I managed to do it but I did that for him.  I am glad I was able to keep my promise even though that day is a blur.

After the funeral when people go back to their lives and the daily routine commences again is when I found it’s tough. People move on but I haven’t. I am stuck with my grief and pain but people think I’m over it.

A good friend who lost his Mum several years ago explained to me “Kase, you don’t ever get over it.  You learn to live with it and deal with it and get through the day… but you don’t get over it so don’t even try.”

Kasey with her dad

I feel helpless that my mum, who is now a widow after 49 years of marriage, is interstate and I can’t be there to take care of her like I want to. All I can do is call daily and see her as much as I can with work and my family commitments.  So I’ve got the guilt on top of the grief.  Double whammy.

When Dad was alive I felt like I had an invisible bubble around me protecting me from harm.  Funny thing was that I didn’t even acknowledge it until the day he died when I suddenly felt exposed, vulnerable and like I was 13 again.

People tell me one day I will be able to look at Dad’s photo and smile and be happy and grateful for all the years I had with him and they are probably right.  Time heals all wounds…  but right now I can’t get past thinking how the world has lost a bit of its sparkle and how much I’d love to have Dad here just to hear his voice… or laugh.

Rest in peace Dad…..

Kasey Drayton has worked as a freelance journalist on and off for the past 25 years and runs a media agency.   She lives in Sydney with her husband and two young children.

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