My Confrontation With Loss

One month has passed since the tragic day I was notified at 6.30 am that my father was missing. The night before, I had dreamt of his death. Owing to the time difference between Australia (where I am) and South Africa (where he was), I am convinced that my dream coincided with the time of his death. Later that horrible day, after many hours of numerous people trying to locate my father, I was confronted with the worst phone call imaginable…my brother had found my father…dead. Life could never be the same.

A dear friend of mine said today that I was very fortunate to have had the father that I did and I know that is true. With every passing day, I become more grateful for the wisdom and teachings that he shared with me. My father was poor in material objects, but so rich in the values that I will forever hold dear in people: Kindness, humility, selflessness, respect, thoughtfulness and a lack of judgement of others. The outpouring of love for my father is the greatest testament to his legacy and his reward for the hardship he endured on this earth.

My father didn’t have an easy life, yet he never complained. He still made time and gave to others. He had faith in a higher power and prayed every morning without fail. I was raised knowing the value of money, work ethic and commitment; but there was never a shortage of unconditional love, support, constant encouragement and such pride in me, my children, my siblings, my brother’s children and my mother.

My father withheld his hardship from us. It was his choice. He had self-respect and pride and sadly, would have felt shame; but mostly, my father wanted to protect us and not burden us with his lot.

I wish my father would have known that the burden of his absence from our lives, would far outweigh anything else he could have given us. I wake up every day with a greater feeling of emptiness than the day before. The finality of death is so difficult to comprehend and I struggle to believe that I will never get to speak to my father again. I have too many stories and jokes I need to share with him. He had the most wonderful sense of humour. I could share anything with my father and he would listen, reflect and share his experiences and advice. He would never force his beliefs; he would forgive mistakes and always guide, support and love.

I am still investigating his death. It is a mystery that I am struggling to solve and the lack of closure, especially for someone who needs to analyse and understand everything, is torturous. I was told initially that my father inflicted death upon himself. The means were so brutal and as a psychiatrist, I am doubtful, but I will never judge my father nor anyone else. If suicide and leaving all the love he had behind, was the only option to end his suffering; then, I wish him peace and rest. I will always love him dearly and only regret not having more time with my father – the most incredible human being I have had the honour to know and am forever fortunate to call: “dad”!

Through my work, I am able to honour my father every day. His kindness will continue to live on in me and I am able to pass on the care to the needy, the tearful, the worried, the weary, the lonely, the lost, the hurt, the defeated, the despondent, the traumatised, the neglected, the abused and the regular people who are trying to best deal with the ebb and flow of life’s difficulties.

For myself…I am placing one foot in front of the next…taking care of my family that I love so much, myself and my work. I am mostly using other available time to grieve, to reflect, to remember, to question, to rage, to cry and to honour the life and soul of my dear father. RIP. I love you forever and ever Dad.

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