Dad lost at 17

by Hannah
(Birmingham, UK)

I lost my dad to a brain tumour when I was 17. It went really fast, there was just about a year between the discovery of the terminal illness and his death. My parents divorced when I was 15 and I had a difficult relationship with my dad because of that. He was secretly seeing someone else for two years until he told my mom and he then told us. It was really awful for me because I always thought we were the perfect family. I felt disgusted (imagining my father in a sexual context was and still is very disturbing) and betrayed. Towards his death our relationship got better but we hardly ever really had meaningful conversations in which we talked about our feelings, mainly because he was very uncomfortable when it came to emotions which in turn made it impossible for me to be really honest with him. It's been almost five years now since his death and I don't seem to have come to terms with it at all. I think the first three years I mainly avoided my grief because it was just too unpleasant plus I was so worried about my older brother who was on the verge of suicide after my dad passed away. He was also addicted to drugs, didn't work, and hadn't even finished school so I think I held back because I was so worried about him, I often dreamt that he'd commit suicide, and I knew it would have killed my mom (she naturally was worried sick during this time as well). My brother is better now and I don't worry about him anymore so much. Now it seems like I am starting to grieve, or at least it feels like I have oppressed my emotions for so long that now I suffer because of that. I've felt depressed for a really long time now. I just finished my degree at university, but everything I do, I do quite mechanically and with no real joy or excitement. I miss looking forward to things. I miss being happy on my own. I've been in a two year relationship which helped me to avoid my sadness and now that it's over it seems like I need to learn how to not avoid my feelings.
I think the worst is that my grief is tainted by other feelings towards my father. I am not too sure what feelings they are but it feels like he's been here yesterday and the discomfort regarding the things he did and what he was like as a person are very real. I know that if my mother had died the grief would be worse but purer at the same time and probably actually easier to deal with. When I bereave my father, on the other hand, there is always this feeling of anger, disappointment, and also abandonment (twice, once at the divorce and once when he died) and lack of love (he left me so he didn't love me).

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Jun 13, 2014
Dad lost at 17
by: Doreen UK

Hannah I am sorry for your loss of your Dad. You sound very articulate and have a good understanding of your family and how you feel you fitted into life within the context of a family struggling with divorce, terminal illness, and betrayal.
Your family is not unlike many families trying to cope with the same struggles. I can understand your hurt towards your father's affair that broke up your family and also see this as a betrayal towards you all. Then there is your brother who had become lost in it all and didn't know how to cope. I can understand you repressing your feelings and your grief. But CONGRATUALTIONS! are in order for focusing and getting your DEGREE through this tough time of struggling within your family. You should applaud yourself for this achievement. Now back to repressing your grief. I know a lot about this because it was what I did in my young life. I didn't know how to handle my feelings and emotions so just repressed them. BIG MISTAKE. It came to the point I had to seek counselling in order to cope with life. But this was the best investment I made in my life. Despite being married and having 3 children I did the counselling bit. Got my life back, and it even benefited my family. WE related better. My husband was diagnosed in 2009 with terminal cancer from working with asbestos. He suffered a horrible cancer journey for just over 3 yrs. and I nursed him through the worst cancer ever. He died 2yrs. ago. This is a tough place to be. You could greatly benefit from seeing a good counsellor. You will be amazed at how you will be able to resolve your difficulties from your past and be able to move forward better with renewed confidence. You will get your life back in new ways and will be that happy person you want to be. Life will improve. You owe it to yourself to do the grief work and be able to re-structure your life and also write your own script of how you want your life to be, and then go and make it happen. Best wishes.

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