Even though my dad could barely speak, I could see in his eyes, he knew it was me and I was there for him. Two weeks later, I was given the news “we recommend palliative care”. This basically means, going home to die. That’s what we chose and my father was gone 24 hours later. As I looked on my father in his coffin, I saw what he had longed for through his battle with dementia – his dignity returned to him. He looked so beautiful in repose, quiet, calm – the torment gone. It was a small intimate celebration of the life of the man who gave me life.
We celebrated his life. We laughed, we cried, we were thankful he was no longer in pain and left this world with dignity.
The third death was of a beautiful, vibrant, young man with everything to live for. He had been my fiancé. We had wanted to get married, we had made plans for babies, new house and trips overseas. He loved my child as though she were his own and tickled her until she could take no more. He made me laugh and was proud of me and my achievements. But he carried secret demons that eventually revealed themselves to me in full blown detail. It was too much, I couldn’t take more heartache and pain, and misery. I had been through too much already.
My fiancé had a mental illness called Borderline Personality Disorder. And much in the same way my father’s dementia stripped him of dignity, this particular mental illness also somehow found a way to do the same. Eventually, for mine and my child’s own safety and security I broke off the engagement. I cried for weeks. Not just for the loss of love, but for the loss of a dream, of a father for my child (who is in my care 100%), for the loss of a beautiful man who couldn’t get past his demons.
I wished him love, peace and happiness and some way for him to manage his mental illness. Ten months after our last phone call, I received another phone call. It was late afternoon, the last days of Spring. I was going to collect my daughter from day care
“Bronny… Jesse took his life today.”
I pulled the car over and sobbed, my heart breaking for this young man, only 34, who just couldn’t see another way out of his torment other than to take his own life. His funeral was tragic, a celebration of his life, but a tragic reminder of what could have been. We cried, and then I thought of my brother, dead – not his choice, and I cried again. The tears flowed and flowed and flowed. I wondered if the grief would ever end.
Two and a half months later, and I’m not sure what happened, something changed inside me. The grief I have felt since losing my brother has somehow lifted. I am lighter, I feel better, my house is organised and decluttered. My daughter has started school and I am writing.
So the writer’s block has lifted and I have shared with you three stories of grief, losing three different men in my life. And my message is this.
“Nothing stays the same. Everything changes. This is merely but a moment in time.”
If you are feeling the loss of someone close to you, or suffering depression yourself, talk to someone. It helps.
It might seem rather flippant to say “get help”, “talk to someone”, “nothing stays the same,” but I have learned over these past few years that all the old sayings are true. There is always a new day. Take it second by second, then minute by minute, then hour by hour. Then half a day, then a full day, then two days, a week, and eventually time passes, and you will discover that time really does heal all.