Hope after loss of grandad: My Story

by Suzanne Catherine Murphy
(Perth Australia)

Hi my name is Suzanne and this is my story of loss and hope after losing the light in my life: My grandad.

My Grandad was my world,i was his girl. he taught me what love was and he also taught me what loss and survival was. I am writing this as i was thinking of him tonight and wanted to share my story in the hope that all of you might find some comfort in my journey to hope as you embark or continue through your own grieving process.

I was 6 when we met, I was adopted, so was he. we bonded and had a special understanding that was unspoken from the beginning. As i grew he taught me what unconditional love was. he taught me compassion and how important time for others was. little was I to know at the time that he would also teach me the hardest lesson in life, saying goodbye.

I was only 22 when He started to forget things. looking back I had seen the signs previously, then the words indelibally printed in my mind. Dementia. I had no idea what that meant, but I was soon to find out. I was in denial, angry, crying constantly. Angry at everyone, the nurses and doctors, my family and him. Angry at myself for not being able to fix it and denying he wouldnt get better.

The following two years were a nightmare. Instead of our trips out together, laughing and joking, it was hospital visits, mental health wards and eventually a nursing home. he lost weight, moodswings and angry outbursts and worse of all forgetting who i was. finally a phone call from my mother to say he had died. and herein starts my journey of grief. it was 2004.

At first as some of you may be experiencing I was completly numb. I cried when I was told and at the funneral but that was it. I could function enough to carry on my life as normal, but things were not normal as I was to find out.

About two months later I caught a bus into the city in which I lived and remember looking out the window and seeing a man. my first thought was, whats Grandad doing out here? then suddenly it hit me he had died. It was not him, It couldnt be him and it never would be him again. I was completly thrown as if my world had suddenly come crashing down. I felt sick to the stomach and just devestated I was inconsolable.

From that point on I could barely get up in the morning. I lost my appitite slept constantly but still felt exausted. my friends seemed distant but i didnt want to see them or my family. I started isolating myself and stopped going to work. My 5 year relationship fell apart, partly because I deliberatly sobataged it. In my mind I could not see things ever getting better, how could they, I felt like I had died with him. People told me it would get better with time, I remember feeling angry that they could say such a thing. How could time heal after all time would not bring the only thing that was going to make it better; him back. No one really understood and Neither did I. All I could think off was the man who was sick not the man who had baught me such joy and love throughout my life. he was my definition and without him I was not me anymore. I was falling in what seemed like a bottomless pit with no end in sight or safety net. For those who feel that way, I want you to know that when you hit the bottom, and there is a bottom, there is only one way to look and thats up.

Eventually I realised I couldnt cope with the reality of him gone and started going out to pubs and clubs. mixing with the wrong people and drinking my days away. I stopped going to church, why would I after all where had god been? I had hit the anger stage, I was angry at everyone and masked it the worst way possible, with alcohol. but it didnt make it better in fact it made it worse. Alcohol is a depressant and believe me when I hit that stage I hit it hard. those were the days I would stay in bed, crying. No one could help me because I didnt want to be helped. I felt Guilty, Guilty for not being there when he died. Of course that was not my fault but I couldnt see it. Guilty for not visiting him everyday as I always had, as I struggled to cope with his illness.(I couldnt see im only human.) Guilty for not being over it as everyone else seemed to be. I was Furious with my parents for not telling me he was dying (they had recieved a call the night before but had not told me.). This would come out almost 5 years later in a burst of anger towards them. Angry at the doctors, nurses for not doing what I wanted, saving him. Angry at family who had little to do with him in life showing up at the funeral. how dare they. Angry at everyone for coping, how could they did they not realise we had lost him? how could they be happy and go on. it was not until 2005 I realised I was in trouble. I went to the doctor and was diagnosed with severe depression. i went on anti depressants but they didnt fix it. I was too depressed to take the medication.

July 2006 i woke up and something told me I had to sort my life out. I needed to start a new life, I booked a flight to Australia that day and flew out a month later. Iv never been back home since. Im hoping to go home later this year for a visit. This is the hope bit for all of you struggling in your loss.

When I arrived in Australia It was a struggle to find work, find a place to live and make friends. But I did It. It was hard to give up the life i had been so comfortable with, Misery. But I did it. It was hard to get up in the mornings. But I forced myself to do it. For many years I couldnt talk about my Grandad. It was too painful. I first started to write poetry about him and how i felt. I started an Album with photos of him and wrote him easter and christmas cards. telling him how much i loved and missed him. these were put in the album. I a little later was able to talk about him and finally cry and feel the loss. these episodes were shorter and more manageable. suddenly life seemed a little brighter. I progressed through at first just trying to survive but then finding out i WANTED to survive.

its now 2011. I still think about him often. I still cry about him often. However, I think about his sense of humour and I smile. I think about what hes taught me and i give thanks that i had him in my life. I still get angry at myself for not being there, but I am also learning to forgive. Time doesnt heal it just gives time to adjust. adjust to the hardest thing possible living without your loved one. My journey has taught me one thing. Its taught me that life does go on although even now i have occassional bad days. Events within the family i still notice his absence but I remember him. He may have taken a part of me with him but I have the best of him with me.

For all those people who have lost their loved one. You have my sympathies. I know how hard it is, I know what its like to lose who I loved. But your journey is your journey and as hard as it seems on those days when it feels like there is no hope of things ever being normal, i hope my story will encourage you. Encourage you to keep going on through the tears, despair, confusion as you try to rebuild your life. i will leave you with a lyric to a song.this sums up where I am at and what my grandad left me.

from the mountains to the valleys from the river to the sea every hand that reaches out, every hand that reaches out to offer peace, every simple act of mercy every step to kingdom come all the hope in every heart will speak what love has done

for as long as i will live i will testify to love, I'll be a witness in the silences when words are not enough, with every breath i take i will give thanks to him above, for as long as i will live i will testify too love.

Take Heart my friends! Hope this helps. my thoughts are with you.


"This was not at all how I thought it was supposed to be, I had so many plans for you I had so many dreams, but now youve gone away and left me with just memories of your smile and nothing I could do and nothing I can say, can take away the pain of losing you. never have i known anything so hard to understand, and never have i questioned more the wisdom of gods plan, but through the cloud of tears I see the father smile and say well done, and I imagine you, where you wanted most to be seeing all your dreams come true cause now your home and now your free". - Steven Curtis Chapman with hope.

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