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{Guest post}Sara-Louise Martin. Navigating the loss of a Father

June 18, 2018

A post by Sara-Louise Martin a dear friend of mine. SL (as she is known in our house) and I met in our early teens through an organisation which ran activities for children who had lost a parent. We reconnected a number of years ago which has been such a blessing and the timing has been perfect (for me at least) as I have started to unravel my own grief journey with some guidance and a gentle nod of the head from SL who knows so many of the feelings and thoughts I wrestle. We refer to ourselves as being part of the “Dead Dad’s club” which adds a little humour and lightness to the lives we lead!

Grab a cuppa and read Sara Louise’s powerful story and tips for handling the mass that grief can weigh in our day to day lives.
Navigating the loss of a father…

Navigating loss is as individual as one’s personality. Regardless, it’s always painful. But there’s hope…

I’ll happily share what’s been true in my life, in the hope that you can be encouraged in some small way.
My father was murdered when I was a baby. I have no memories of him. I only know his character because people have told me about him, yet I miss him. Grieving the loss of someone you didn’t know is complex.

I have always wondered what life might have been like if dad had been around. I’ve asked myself all the questions: Would I be the same? Would I have had as much of an adventurous spirit, or would I have played it safer? Would I be more or less driven? Would I have travelled as much?
I don’t know the answers to many of these questions, but I do know that I see the world differently because of my circumstances.
Circumstances don’t have to define you, but they have been central in shaping the legacy that I want to leave behind…because there is hope.

Losing a parent so early in life is tough. Any additional losses that occur afterwards just compound the issue – it took me a long time to figure that out.
I remember a particularly difficult time a few years ago when I was going through a break-up. I was talking to a friend and she was like “oh COME ON…you’re stronger than this”…(and although that is *actually* true), what I was experiencing was loss upon loss upon loss…and it was deep and achey and disorienting.
She really didn’t get it at all…and I was really surprised. It was only afterwards that I realised that my experience of a break-up triggered a deeper loss that she had never experienced. But still, there’s hope…

Loss is a very real part of life. A loss doesn’t have to be a death. It could be any of the following and more: unrealised dreams for the future, relationships that haven’t worked out, redundancies, friendships that change, loss of independence.
If we don’t deal with loss properly then we’re carrying that loss around with us & most likely reacting to life because of it. There is a lot of truth in the saying “hurting people, hurt people”.

I didn’t really deal with my dad’s death properly until I was about 30…and it completely floored me. I forced myself to deal with something that I had bottled up.
It was incredibly disorienting, but I’m so glad now that I made the time and created the space to do it.
When you don’t deal with things it can become a massive barrier to your future. Remember that life’s too short, swallow your pride and go and see a therapist. Get it sorted. Your future self will thank you for it.

My hope in my experience of loss comes from my faith, which has sustained me through the rollercoaster of life. There have been lots of highs, and actually many more lows. My identity isn’t in my career or a relationship or “stuff” – I know who I am because of God’s promises.
I don’t understand all that’s happened in my life, but my hope comes from something bigger than me & that’s why it’s called faith – “this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living.”

If I’m ever feeling a bit wobbly/down about my dad there are a couple of things that I do which help me to reset, maybe you could try them too?

⁃ I do the “three good things” exercise where I write down three good things that have happened that day. It’s clinically proven that if we practice thankfulness it lifts our mood. I did this for almost a year and had a list of over 800 GOOD things in my life. I’d love to encourage you to try it.
⁃ I journal – and write a letter, as if it’s to my dad.

Find Sara Louise on twitter here

1 Comment

  • Reply EllaMcloughlin June 29, 2018 at 7:19 pm

    SL very well written very true your Dad would have been so proud of you, also your wonderful Mum. With love and all good wishes. Ella

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