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Losing my Dad during Covid 19

My dad (Papi) as I called him died this day two weeks ago suddenly at the age of 60. Ugh I can’t believe it’s two weeks already, although it seems like years at this stage, sometimes days. I am revisiting grief so soon. Many questions ran and still run through my mind. “How is this fair God”, “Why God why?”, “Is heaven even real”, “I didn’t get to say goodbye”, “What if I never see him again?”, “Ive enough going on, how is any of this fucking fair.” I am struggling to even remember what the last thing I said to him was but I usually ended all my calls with love you dad and he’d reply, “love you too Chrissy.” I wasn’t ready or prepared for my dad to die but is there ever a perfect time to die. That’s the thing, I’m struggling to cope but I usually grieve quite quickly but then again grief is something you revisit all the time. Sadly, I know this too well due to my life with MS.

For the past seven weeks I’ve been experiencing Trigeminal Neuralgia and nerve pain in my face, head neck and arm. It’s really shite!! I am a cryer, I like to get it all out but this neuralgia is making it so difficult. The more I use my facial muscles the worse the neuralgia gets. Sounds pretty bleak, huh!
I was the one to get the phone call saying my dad had dropped dead. Not gonna lie, I was in shock and full blown denial. I just didn’t believe it. No one’s grief is any greater or lesser than anyone else’s so please don’t take me up the wrong way. But losing a father or someone you love suddenly and during Covid is absolutely horrific.

From the moment I got the phone-call all I wanted to do was head back to Drogheda to see my family. Isn’t that what everyone would want… But I couldn’t. Why you may ask? Well I’m on immunosuppressant therapy for my Multiple Sclerosis. I had been cocooning since before St.Patrick’s Day. So has my older sister with her daughter who has CF. Thankfully my Dad was Covid Negative and I got to go home the following day. Now imagine losing your dad outside of Covid, you’d hug your mam, siblings and friends, sit around cry, laugh and grieve together. But Not during Covid, I got home to my parents house, got in the door and sat two meters away from my mother, my sister and my brother. I couldn’t even hug them, my heart was breaking all over again. My dad died the Saturday and I didn’t get to see his body until the Tuesday.

My anxiety has been through the roof and I ended up in A+E twice since my dad died because of the pain I’m in. They told me it was nerve pain and did a quick neurological exam and said they didn’t see anything sinister. I am so anxious all the time that I honestly thought I was dying, Ive never been in so much physical pain as well as emotional pain. Thankfully my MS team don’t want to leave me in this pain so hopefully Monday or Tuesday Il be getting an injection into my neck to relieve the pain.

My belief is that our body is literally just a vessel and that we are souls just living in a body. My dad was one of my soul-mates, we were so similar , same sense of humour and we’ve both been through a lot in our lives and we both suffer with anxiety. I knew that it was just his body and that his soul is gone to heaven or the after life, well that’s my belief. Or is it, I just don’t know any more. It broke my heart saying goodbye to his dead body but I just had to cling to the hope that it was simply just his body. It was awful because normally outside of Covid, you would be able to see them for a while before the coffin closes but all we got was one hour. One hour to say our goodbyes and it was tough because it was shared time also. Must give credit to Townley’s funeral home in Drogheda because they allowed us down the Wednesday morning before his funeral to say our farewells before they shut his coffin. They were very professional and even brought a little seat for me to sit in at the cemetery. They played my Dad’s and my favourite song that we’d sing together out in the garden, “Heart Of Gold” by Neil Young as his coffin was being carried out.

Funerals during Covid is limited to 10 people. This was so difficult, I sat with my mam and younger sister but two metres apart. My wife sat on a seat in the aisle across from me. My older sister sat behind with her boyfriend. My brother sat apart from us too with his wife. My dads friend and uncle also sat on their own. It was horrific and very daunting knowing we could only invite 10 inside. Although my Dad grew up in an orphanage so we don’t really know the rest of his family. Some came up and paid their respects which was really nice and they also got in to the funeral and sat at back so there was probably 12 at funeral. One person made things a bit difficult. What’s a funeral without a bit of drama, huh!. Haven’t seen her since I was a kid but she thought she and her dad had more of a right to be at the funeral than my sister in law, my wife and the grandchildren. Talk about making a really difficult time even more difficult. Obviously if there was no Covid, we would have wanted everyone there but we were literally given a few minutes the day before to come up with ten people, obviously there was ten of us that were immediate. Under any other circumstance, everyone would have been welcome because everyone wants a great send off for their loved ones.

I am so thankful because although only 10 was allowed in the church, people were welcome to stand in the church car-park and social distance to show their respects. There was so many family members, friends and old neighbours showing their support by adhering to social distancing standards and to give my dad a great send off. Some of Dad’s family even travelled up from Cavan which would have meant so much to him and us. Just to see my friends standing apart and away from me, meant more to me than they’ll ever know.There are literally no words that I can use to describe how much that meant to me. I will never forget it, honestly. Up in the cemetery, there were so many more people there to pay their respects also adhering to the social distancing. My dad would have loved all the attention and to be honest he got a great send off.

Where am I at today?, I’m still in shock and think I will be for a while. I am angry, angry that I didn’t get to talk to him or be with him when he died. I’m grieving and I know the feeling all too well. I know that il remember my dad forever and I have to cling on to all the good memories. All the fun times when I was a child and stupid things that we’d joke about. My dad was a kind man, a gentle soul and the most forgiving person that I’d ever known. He knew I loved him and I know he loved me and until we meet again Papi, please shine your light down on me.

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