Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Losing Dad

Losing Dad

When my daughter was conceived we found out her birthday would be August 24, which would have been my father’s birthday. She was born on August 23, but she would have hung on until the 24th had we let her. So as I sit here on the afternoon of August 23, contemplating another year of my beautiful daughter’s life and staring down the barrel of another missed birthday that we would be celebrating for my father – I reflect.

My Dad and I when I was about the
age of my son now

 Every year now, we celebrate the high of my daughter’s birthday and then the next day I wake up with a deep sadness for the man I lost many years ago when I was only 20. Not a year passes when I don’t grieve for him on his birthday or on the anniversary of his very sudden death, and reflect on the years that have passed and the events he has missed as I navigated my way through adulthood.

I remember years ago, when a friend of mine lost her dad, she asked me if it ever gets easier. My impulse response was no, but you learn to cope. I really believe that when a daughter loses their dad, they lose a little piece of their heart that never, ever gets replaced. As time has passed I have learnt to cope with the pain, but it is always present.

Over the years there have been so many little moments that have always reminded me that dad is around. I have no real belief system in the afterlife, but I have had continual reminders that he is around. By dad had a wicked Irish sense of humor. He swore like a trooper and had he still been alive, he would have had the biggest following on Pinterest for ‘Tim memes.’

I have had many reminders of his humor and his love for me. There was the time I found myself at a very random psychic expo, about a year after we lost dad. A lady came up to me and started talking to me out of the blue. She straight up told me that I had recently lost my dad and that he needed me to get a message to mum. He wanted her to know that he was surprised at how sudden and early his death was, but that he was ok and that he was with his own mum. Where she got the information from is, and still is, irrelevant to me. I instantly knew that dad was by my side and always would be.

Dad and his mother (my grandmother), Rene.

 On my wedding day I recall going for an early morning run through the Bunya Mountains State Forrest. I had spread his ashes there a few years earlier and wanted to visit him. I came face to face with a big black dog about 4km into a rainforest in the middle of a protected state forest. It saw me, we both froze, then it turned and ran off into the forest. I felt at peace (after the initial shock!). I went about my wedding day knowing that my dad was with me the entire time, feeling peaceful and happy. We all joked that he even cleared the rain that day for us, just in time!

At the end of the night, when we headed back to our cabin, a black dog passed in front of us as we drove up the hill. A few weeks later, the curiosity got the better of me and I emailed the Bunya Mountains rangers who assured me that no dogs would be in the forest as it is protected. My dad will always be there for me to visit when I need to.

Over the years I have discovered that my dad has a unique way of being there for me. For the birth of my first child, Josie, I finally succumbed to an epidural after 20 or so hours of labour. In some surreal moment of serendipity, the man sent to administer the epidural for me that day was called Tim O’Brien – this was my father’s name. My angel. Needless to say I absolutely lost my shit and my poor mother had to explain my sudden hysteria to this unwitting doctor.

There have been so many moments in my life that my father has missed and for which I feel deep sadness, like the birth of my children, my marriage and that of my brother, and even ill health. But more importantly he’s missed the day-to-day stuff like building a fence, sorting out a car, or helping with my yard. You know, the dad stuff.

My brother, Nick, walked me down the aisle at my wedding
and my Uncle Mick, spoke on my father's behalf.
For both my brother and I, it was a bitter sweet moment.
Photo credit:

Over this past week, three of our clients have lost their dads and each time I hear of this loss I can connect deeply with the pain they must feel. And for whatever comfort this may bring I say to you this…know that he is always with you, looking out for you. He will send messages in his own special way. I truly believe this. No matter what your belief system, just have faith in your connection and love.

Most importantly, create your rituals around remembering him, or any parent or family member for that matter. For his birthday, I will have a Bundy Rum and Coke, as will my brother, and we will remember the man that took a little piece of my heart with him when he went to sleep that day at the very young and vibrant age of 56.
Dad, in his earlier years, made health choices
that ultimately led to his early death.
This contributes to my very strong desire
to help people turn their lives around
and make better choices so they can enjoy
many more years with their families. 

My brother, my mum and I. After losing dad.
Photo credit:


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