When my father passed away unexpectedly on Friday 3rd July 2015 my entire world changed forever. I remember the most intense feeling of disbelief, as the ICU doctor explained that he was not able to be revived, my brain when into overload. I had been with him an hour and a half before hand, they had said he would be out of hospital next week. My brain screamed how can he possibly be gone, it wasn’t meant to happen this way, he shouldn’t have been on his own, it’s too soon, he needed more time, I needed more time, this can’t be happening, he wanted to live.
Losing a loved one in any circumstance is traumatic, losing them before they’re ready to go is the sort of heart break that will stay with you for life and losing them under questionable circumstances can steal part of your life too if you’re not careful.
My fathers death was referred to the coroners court for investigation because there was so much confusion surrounding this death and a cause of death was not known. At first I was relived that our concerns around the level care he received were being acknowledged with an investigation. But that quickly turned into anger as I began to form the opinion that somebody was to blame.
For a long time I blamed myself, I was the last person to see him. If I had of stayed another hour and a half maybe things would have been different. I remember clearly the first time I said it out loud, in a session with my psychologist through my tears I told her that I should have saved him, he always protected me and looked after me, I should have done more. I truly believed that it was somehow partially my fault even though I wasn’t a medical professional. There were so many memories that haunted me; I would constantly repay moments in my head that I thought may have changed the way things ended.
With the support of great friends I managed to ease up on blaming myself but redirected the blame straight on to the hospital and all the staff who I felt could have done more. I believed that we had to fight for him so that some positive came from losing him. The hospital failed him and things needed to change to protect other people. No other family should live through our hell.
Coroners investigations don’t happen quickly, we’ve spent the last 18 months waiting to here any sort of update on my dads case. Then last Friday my family received a letter from the coroners court saying that after considering the circumstances the coroner had decided not to proceed further with the investigation into my fathers death.
I never saw it coming. I was completely blindsided. I didn’t really know how I felt about it. My brain started to process; so they’re saying that no one is to blame, that’s bullshit, I’m not giving up.
As I revisited all the mistakes and the distressing level of care my father received, all the anger and pain I’d been storing in my heart began to pour out. I didn’t even realise just how angry I still was. For the first time I could clearly see just how much I’d been holding onto and I started to see the impact it had been having on my life.
As I took all of this in and became fully aware of my anger I knew there was no other choice. Fighting and holding on to this anger was having a terrible impact on my life. It was time to let go, to accept that no amount of blame will bring him back and make peace with the circumstances that he left us in.
Beginning to let go wasn’t some simple ahhh I’ve decided to let it go and now I feel great moment. It hurt like hell. I spent almost my entire Saturday crying, journaling, meditating, listening to inspiring talk about life and then crying some more. I let myself fall into habitual patterns of beating myself up. I spent time agonising over the way I had let my anger and victim mentality drive my life and damage relationships. Then I found the awareness to see that thought patter for what it is and with kindness reassured myself that I did the best that I could in the place that I found myself.
Sunday morning I woke up and my eyes went straight to a quote I have stuck on my wall. It simply reads “you are entirely up to you”. I felt myself filled me a new sense of purpose, I got a bunch of jobs done, went and ran along the beach and decided to end my Sunday with a delicious yin and meditation class.
As soon as I slowed down all the memories of my dad’s last few days began to flood back into my consciousness. The usual story was playing then the strangest thing happened I began to think about one particular nurse in a way I had never even contemplated before. She was the one person I felt really made the wrong decision at a critical time and I had hated her more than anyone else. As I lay hugging my bolster I was overcome with a deep sense of compassion for her, for the very first time I thought my god she must have felt awful. Tears ran down my face and I began to wonder how many times she may have questioned her decision. I was deeply concerned about the impact my fathers death may have had on her and in the moment I knew something profound had shifted in me.
It’s been an unbelievably challenging couple of years but with the challenges has come some of the biggest lessons of my life. The most important being the value of acceptance. I would of course give anything to have more time with my dad but longing for a reality other than the one I have is a recipe for deep seated suffering. From here I make the commitment to try and live in a way that honours the amazing person he was by making courageous decisions, actively choosing happiness and believing in endless possibility.