Meet my best friends Kate & April
We have been friends since we were like 13 (God that makes me feel old). We our 3 of a very supportive girl group and all 3 have lost a parent. Yes all 3 from the same friendship group which i feel is very rare when were only 25. Some may say were unlucky but when it comes to anniversary’s or just that bad day, I’m lucky because I know these girls are always on the other end of the phone and I won’t even need to explain because they just understand.
So on my journey to get grief spoken about more openly they agreed to share there story. I asked the girls if they would answer a few questions with the aim of getting one step closer to making grief a less awkward subject.
April shares her story:
Who have you lost? My dad
How old was you when you lost them? 21
Tell me about the moment you found out and the feelings that come with it?
I was on a girl’s holiday, we had just finished 2 weeks in Thailand and flown to Singapore for our final few days. This point was a lot clearer for me to explain emotions as it was the best holiday I had ever had up to that point. We landed in Singapore and went straight out for drinks without connecting to wifi or having any phone signal. That night in Singapore was like a scene out of the film bridesmaids, we went a bit wild and ended up in some exclusive club partying in VIP living our best lives. We got in at about 5am Singapore time and at this point I remember how happy and good I felt and was joking around with Kate & Annie in the hotel room. Then I connected to Wifi and within seconds I had a facetime call come in from my sister which was strange. I was obviously drunk so a bit oblivious to the seriousness on her face and was actually told by Kate “Ape, somethings up, Sommer are you okay?”. Obviously in that moment I just remember my heart sank I think I had already started crying before knowing what had happened. She kind of just blurted out “Dads dead” and from that moment it was a blur, my memory is a bit hasty because the shock took over. I sobered up instantly. The only way I can describe it is like an outer body experience like the whole world had frozen. When I was on the call, I think all that came out my mouth was oh my god are you ok? Is mum ok? Is Dan ok? And I think I repeated that over and over and over. I don’t remember finishing the call but the next moment I remember was being in the hallway of the hotel on the floor screaming crying – it’s a different kind of cry and felt like physical hurt. After this point I remember nothing except the fact I was on total auto-pilot. I couldn’t feel anything, I couldn’t sleep I was just in a moment of stillness. The next few days you’d think it would go slowly but it felt like I had blinked and suddenly I was at the airport meeting my family. It was honestly like going from being on top of the world at complete peace and seeing it come crashing down in front of your eyes and you being rock bottom in a millisecond.
How do you think losing a parent has changed you as a person?
This is a hard one to answer as the first 2 years for me I was still on auto-pilot. I was just living without thinking about anything, feeling anything – total numbness so I don’t think I have the best self-awareness of this time and whether the change was gradual or instant. Now looking back, I think before losing a parent I was probably more fun and outgoing and more opinionated. Now I’m much more of an introvert and only feel comfortable spending time with family and really close friends. The best change in me – I’d say Losing a parent gave me insane drive to be better and change my life to be good. I became obsessed with making life happen – I went straight back to uni and completely brainwashed myself into getting a first. My coping mechanism was definitely belief that for all the bad and hurt you felt from life so far, I will equally have the exact strength of emotion but on the flip side so I always knew it will get better and all the hurt will be worth it. I’d say it’s made me more driven to be better. Other than that, I’d say I’m the same – just wiser!
Your happiest memory of them?
I was about 8 and he had been away for a while. He came into my room when I was sleeping it must have been about 6am and he told me to come downstairs. I remember him being so loud and full of energy the kind of thing you would not want piercing your ears at that time lol. When I got downstairs, he told me to open his gym bag. Anyway, I did and out pops this black Neapolitan mastiff puppy’s head! I think this is my happiest memory as he was such an extreme person and it doesn’t get more extra than that.
How did they die?
Cause of death was unknown. I guess we will never know but he lived life on the edge from about 15 years old until he died at 45. Partying went from being harmless to taking over his life and in the end, I guess it all caught up with him.
Kate share her story:
Who have I lost? I’m one of 4 siblings and over 20 years ago we lost our dear Dad to leukaemia.
How old was I when I lost him? 5 years old.
Tell me the moment you found out and the feelings that come from it?
I suppose one of the benefits of being so young is that I don’t remember. I do struggle to remember my childhood and I do wonder sometimes if I’ve subconsciously created a mental block. One day id definitely like to explore it in more depth with the right support.
How do you think losing a parent has changed you as a person?
Losing someone you love makes you realise how short and precious life can be and how important is to make the most out of it.
One thing I have always believed while growing up and still do believe is that even though I physically can’t see, touch or hear my Dad I have always felt his presence and it offers me great comfort and trust knowing he’s guiding me through life. He is my personal guardian Angel and I’m lucky to have him watch over me.
Happiest memory with them?
I have always felt a little jealous of my older siblings sharing fond memories with our dear Dad. Sophie and I (my twin sister) being so young the only memories I vaguely have are being at the hospital. Whenever I smell the anti-bacterial hand sanitizers, they have in hospitals it always takes me back to those days. Although I am very grateful for all the precious photos, videos and memories loved ones have shared.
April & Kate, honestly from the bottom of my heart thank you for getting involved in this little project of mine, it’s a big ask to let me write about such a personal experience all over the internet but I’m glad you can be part of this movement. Together we can make Grief a more open and less awkward subject xx