Dear Grace (8 years old),
It is 26th June 2009 and I am writing to explain how drastically life is going to change. The night before you will go to bed like normal. You will tell Dad you love him and kiss him goodnight. Mum will put you to bed because Dad can’t manage the stairs anymore. You will go to sleep.
Then you will wake up and your whole world will change. The feeling of the carpet in between your toes, the ache in your chest, the silence of the house, these are all things that you will remember for the rest of your life. Mum is taking you to her room and Grandma is in the bed not Dad. That’s when Mum is going to tell you Daddy has died and in your heart you knew, you felt it the moment you woke up. You’re going to be shocked, confused and in pain. The funeral will come and go. The whole year will be stages of blackness and then vivid memories but you will smile and laugh again.
You will miss out on so much, like Dad teaching you to ride a bike or walk you to the shop every Saturday for jelly tots and a paper. As you grow older Dad will miss out on taking you to your first rugby match, getting your GCSE results, teaching you to drive, seeing you become a woman with ideas and opinions. You both lose the opportunity of doing life together and that’s what will hurt the most. That’s what will trigger you and make you angry and that’s okay because no one should have to experience what you feel.
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I wish I could tell you that everyone is going to understand. You are going to hurt, deeply. This is a letter to tell you how strong you are, how resilient you will learn to be. It is also to tell you how things are going to be okay, you’ll learn to live and be open. All thanks to Winston’s Wish. You will get help, talk and digest. They will give you the life lines you need to get through the rest of your life. Grief and loss will consume you then it will ebb and flow but you learn to grow around it, acknowledge it and accommodate it.
You will keep Dad’s memory alive by helping others, raising awareness, sharing your story. You will grow into an open and outgoing girl and you won’t be held back by this. This will enable you to meet people who understand and feel your pain because they have experienced the same loss and bereavement. You are not alone, you make friends, connections and relationships that will stick with you for life. You won’t ever forget what happened to you or how that felt but you convert those feelings into good, education and help for others.
As your 20 year old self I want to say how amazed I am that you survived it and now cope with the grief. You have achieved so much and you learn that your grief is your superpower. It’s what makes you, you. You will always remember Dad with a smile on your face and that similar ache in your heart but know he is up there proud and smiling down on us.
I love you, for all your flaws and all your strengths. Carry on being the bubbly, emotional curly haired queen you are because you have the love of someone really important spurring you on.
Grace (20 years old) xxxxx