This is such a heartbreaking piece that highlights the complexity of grieving the loss of an alcoholic parent. The loss of hope, the confusion, shame and guilt. We are not alone. If you feel like you need some help and support then Nacoa are there for you. If you would like to share as a COA then please do get in touch.
“He was so proud of you”
“He talked about you so much”
“He loved you so much”
I don’t know how many days it had been since you died, days blurred into weeks and now weeks are beginning to blur into months. I turned my phone off, I couldn’t bare to hear another word about what a great father you were, from the people you used to drink with, I was scared I would snap and ask how could he have been proud when we were the last of his priorities?
People talk about grief, losing a parent and their journey but I feel like my grief is so different, the thing I am grieving most is the hope that you would ever be sober one last time. I always thought you would die of liver sclerosis, perhaps I even hoped for this because then maybe we would have one last time to talk to you somewhere other than the pub, to ask what happened, to see you sober one last time. That’s not what happened though, you died so suddenly and that opportunity has been snatched from my hands.
Some days I feel like everyone thinks I should be finished grieving, how can I be so sad and miss someone so much who was inadvertently so toxic? Should I be relieved because you can no longer hurt anyone? Yet I feel like I have only just began grieving, after your death I was so angry, your flat was a mess, you had left nothing in order and you had so many skeletons in your closet, then I was angry at myself, I blamed myself for everything. When you were sober, you were my hero, I remember how we used to go everywhere together, you were the fun parent and I idolised you, I don’t think I have seen you sober for over a decade now. When you were drunk, I remember how it was always someone else’s fault, yes you’d fallen asleep on the sofa with a cigarette in your hand but I was a child and I shouldn’t of been checking up on you, yes we were helping you look down the sofa for money for wine before midday but we didn’t understand. It was always my fault, now I am left wondering if it was my fault for giving up, for agreeing to meet you in pubs, if I could of gone more and every night I have nightmare about the worst times.
It is only now that I am feeling sad, loss and missing you. It hurts that you will never watch me walk down the aisle, you will never meet your grandchildren if there are any, I will never see you sober again and there is so much left unsaid. I can’t imagine it would have been easy arranging you to see children and I imagine you would of embarrassed me if I did get married but it feels unfair this is no longer an issue, that you went with no warning, that I did not see you more because if it was a choice between me or a night getting drunk, the wine usually won.
Sometimes when I leave the house I begin to shake, my chest goes tight and I can’t stand to be around people, it was never like this before you passed away. To me it feels like yesterday and forever since you died, I am so used to you coming and going in my life that I go to ring you all of the time and then I realise this time you are not drunk somewhere, that you are no longer here. It’s hard to talk about you to anyone, so many people say they didn’t realise I have a father but I never knew what to say, I think I genuinely believed if I had been a better child then you wouldn’t of drunk, you weren’t really an easy conversation so I just didn’t talk. I walked around feeling a sense of shame, I miss you every day, I miss the hope, I cannot get used to this new reality when in the end no matter how much we tried to help in the end we couldn’t keep you alive but if there is one good thing to come out of your death it is that I can finally talk, I can finally say you were an alcoholic and I am slowly beginning to say that it isn’t my fault. I am learning that there are other people who have been through some of what I have, that the relationship you had doesn’t dictate whether you should or shouldn’t grieve.
You probably were a proud parent, you probably did love us and you probably did talk about us, I just wish you’d been sober enough to talk to me, to tell me and that we could of come before your addiction.