Tom: A letter to my 14-year-old self

Tom: A letter to my 14-year-old self

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Dear Tom (14 yrs),

It is 1st May 2019, and I am writing this letter to let you know that tomorrow your whole world is going to change in a way that you could never imagine.

On Thursday 2nd May 2019 Mum will pick you up from school and tell you that Dad has cancer, a type of cancer that is not curable. The words don’t seem to make sense and you can’t understand or take it in. You know that Dad has not been well, but you didn’t know he had cancer. He has become very ill and is in hospital.

You will learn that he had been ill for some time but didn’t want to tell you. He wanted to protect you and he had hoped that the treatment he was receiving would give him some more time with you.

You and Mum go to see Dad in hospital. The nurse tries to prepare you for what will happen when you go into the intensive care ward. Nothing can prepare you. You walk in and see Dad, he is unconscious and has so many tubes attached to him. He is not able to talk to you, but you sit and talk to him, hold his hand and pray that he is going to get better.

You spend the next three weeks visiting him every day. He is never conscious, but you continue to talk to him, telling him what you have been doing and holding his hand.

Dad never regains consciousness. On 22nd May 2019 he passes away quietly in his sleep.


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The next few days, weeks and months are a blur. You can’t imagine how you will carry on without him and you can’t imagine the pain ever going away.

Your family will be a huge comfort and support to you. You will develop an even more special relationship with your Aunty and your grandparents who want to be there for you. They have lost their brother and son, and they understand the loss you are feeling.

You find talking to friends about your Dad difficult. You feel that they don’t understand, they still have their Dads.

The first Father’s Day, first Xmas and Birthday are difficult. The grief doesn’t go away, but the pain becomes less and you can start to live your life again, to enjoy small moments and to imagine a future without Dad.

You hope that in the future you can help others the way you have been helped, to bring some positives from this terrible experience.

You feel lucky to have had such a wonderful Dad who taught you so much and made you feel so loved. That feeling will be with you forever.

You start to realize how important time spent with close friends and family is and you want to make the most of your life and for your Dad to know that you lived your life to the full.

Tom (16 yrs)