“Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times…”

“Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” – Albus Dumbledore

I can’t believe I’m writing this, but last week my amazing Dad passed away. And this quote, by Albus Dumbledore, is one of the things helping me to keep putting one foot in front of the other and make it through each day. When I wake up in the morning with an overwhelming crushing feeling in my chest, I remember this, and it helps me to get through the next half an hour. And then half an hour after that, and so on.

Since April, my Dad has suffered a second stroke, a high-risk operation to clear a blocked carotid artery, horrendous side effects from an anti-depressant which left him fighting for his life, a diagnosis of vascular dementia, and heart failure which left him struggling to breathe. Despite everything he endured this year, he worked hard to gain back the cognitive skills which he lost from the stroke, and through his determination, he re-learned how to do cryptic crosswords, jigsaw puzzles, and use his phone. His confusion gradually lifted, and he was almost back to where he was before the stroke.

After a long stay in hospital, my Dad was moved to a nursing home where he could have 24-hour care. As he continued to improve, it became apparent that actually, my Dad was very independent, and no longer required that level of care. We all hoped, including my Dad, that he would return home for good. Sadly, his failing heart meant that that wasn’t meant to be, and he passed away from congestive cardiac failure while he slept.

My family is devastated, and I know I’m not the only one with a broken heart right now.

When I’m struggling with something in life, the way I get through it is to stay positive.

Losing my Dad is the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through, and positivity is something I’m desperately reaching out to, but I can’t quite reach it yet.  If I stretch to my absolute max, I could probably just about touch it with my finger tips, but I wouldn’t be able to grab hold – it’s just out of reach.

I’m aware of what the positives are, but at the moment I only feel pain and sadness, with just a glimmer of ‘I’ll be okay’. The best way I can describe how I’m feeling right now, is I’m standing in the sea, and the water is rough. It comes up to my waist, and I’m just about managing to stand up. But then these enormous waves come crashing down, they’re knocking me off my feet, and I’m wondering how I can possibly survive. Then, somewhat miraculously, I stand back up and think I might be okay. But then the waves come back, and the process repeats itself again, and again, and again. Grief is exhausting.

I know how I’m feeling is very normal, and for now I just have to do whatever it takes to get me through each day. I’m hoping the positives will help me through it, even though I can’t fully absorb them at the moment.

  • My Dad died peacefully in his sleep.
  • We’d prepared ourselves for him to die in June, when he was receiving end-of-life care in hospital. It’s a huge positive that he made so much improvement in the months since then. It would have been even more distressing if that was how his life ended.
  • We got an extra three months of time with him that at one point, we didn’t think we’d get.
  • We don’t know how the vascular dementia would have developed. My Dad wouldn’t have wanted to live in state of constant confusion, not able to do things for himself. He had pretty good quality of life in the end, all things considered.
  • He got to watch me and my brothers grow up.
  • He got to know Luke and walk me up the aisle to marry him.
  • The improvement in my Dad’s health meant that he was able to return home several times with my mum, he enjoyed trips to the sea front where he had coffee and ice cream, and he had visits to garden centres, too.

I don’t know at what point these positives will begin to really help me, but I hope it’s soon.

I’m not writing this for sympathy, I just want to share the reminder that you can find happiness and positivity, even when your world is bleak.

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  • Chris Chaffer says:

    Dearest Abby ,
    Oh ! Those words of grief losing someone so close to you & the way you have put it when a light goes out . I promise you it will come back on but it takes time ( the great healer ). The crushing feeling of realising your Dad is no longer with you is so painful & you will hurt for a while . You have to let yourself go through the process of dealing with all those emotions until the time comes to think of all the happy times & memories you shared together that day will come eventually but be kind to yourself . It’s all quite normal to be open to these feelings your lovely Mum & I have been there so many times .
    I’m hoping to be there next week when Dad is laid to rest in the meantime try your hardest to be strong he will be watching over you & that will give you strength to carry on .
    “We are not always ready for the things that God has planned
    They are sometimes unexpected & we do not understand
    But always there’s a purpose for as yet we have to see
    It’s locked away. From vision & gods love provides the key ‘
    Thinking of you Abby lots of love & hugs from Chris Chaffer xxx