The Journey: Shifting from Struggling to Living

Five months ago I was given the most devastating news that my dad had taken his own life. During the first couple of months I was not able to function as the event that took place clouded every inch of my thinking. I struggled to accept or understand what my dad had done and the complexity of his death was overwhelming to say the least.

Somewhere along however–I chose to live–and from that moment on. I have found a strength that keeps manifesting and growing. I realized that it was possible to live a happy life again so long as I allowed myself to do so. Rather than continuing to seek answers to questions that cannot now and will never be answered, I chose to release myself from being stuck in my grief.

Dad chose to end his life, and if I were to have let it, the darkness of the grief and pain that I endured could have consumed me also. An important part of being able to release myself from the grief was to ground myself in the life I have now and the people that are still here. I cannot bring my dad back and although I will always love and miss him, I need to make the most of the people in my life now.

The reality is that life can end so quickly and I do not want to regret not making the most out of the precious time that we have on this Earth, nor do I want to feel that life isn’t worth living, when actually it most definitely is once you realize the joy again of sharing moments with those you love.

I am still here and I still have my life to live.

A Visitation Dream: My Dad or Just My Mind?

Normally my dreams are very traumatic as they show vivid replays of what might have happened on that fateful night three months ago when I lost my dad to suicide. Last night was different.

I have been struggling the past few days to the point that I got in touch with my bereavement support worker. She arranged to come and see me yesterday and the flood gates completely opened. I let so many things out that I have not spoken about to her yet and then at the end of the hour and a quarter, although tired I actually felt some relief.

Around 6:15 this morning I had a dream that I was back at my dad’s house in South Africa. It had been cleaned thoroughly and everything of Dad’s was back in its place. A few things were in a different place, but nevertheless it was all tidy and calm. As I was saying my final goodbyes (like I did on the final day I visited the house), my dad came through the door. I burst into tears and he just held me (just like he did when I last said goodbye to him at the airport after our final visit to see him). He kept saying ‘my little girl’ (as he did whenever I was upset) and kept holding me tightly.

Then my partner shouted to tell me people were coming in cars on to the farm. I came outside and it was police cars with lights flashing and the people who got out were shining flashlights towards us and the house. I walked onto the driveway and collapsed crying on the floor. I looked across back towards the house and the doorway. Dad was sitting in a chair by his outside table. He looked so relaxed and calm, not smiling but peaceful somehow.

My tears felt like they were then put on for the police as I knew dad was there–like it was his and my secret. I knew he was there, but no one else could see him. I woke up after that and began sobbing uncontrollably because it was so real. The comfort I felt when dad held me, made me feel safe–though I knew it was a dream because I kept saying to dad in my dream that it was. He gave me the ‘daddy hugs’ I have been longing for and I could feel how calm and peaceful he was.

Now I don’t know whether this was dad visiting me–to let me know he is at peace and give this broken heart and mind some comfort, or whether it was my own mind trying to put things into some kind of order. Either way, although I have felt extremely sad today, I do feel like I have mourned my dad and not just focused on what he did. I feel more peaceful. This gives me hope that my mind is working to protect me and not against me right now.