How do you grieve the death of a dad you lost from your life a long time ago?

My dad died in February.

I hadn’t spoken to him for about 12 years.

He never tried to make contact with me, and I never tried to make contact with him.

He hurt me with his words when I was carving out the stubborn, independent, strong-minded woman I am today (I was around 18) and I vowed and declared I would never let him into my life again.

He wasn’t a bad guy, he just had issues with impatience and pessimism – traits that I could only tolerate for so long.

I had never thought about my dad dying, you know, anticipating how I would feel.

When it happened, I was naturally upset, but it was a strange blend of emotions, as what I have realised now, is I HAD ALREADY GRIEVED THE LOSS OF MY DAD MANY YEARS AGO.

All those years ago, even though he was still a human being walking the earth, he was no longer in my world, and so I erased him from my memory. A defence mechanism employed by a young woman desperate not to get her heart hurt any further.

So what did I have to grieve this time round?

The finality of it really hit. There would be no emotional reunion when I had his grandchildren and we both realised life was too short. No letter explaining why he so easily let his daughter, that he was so close to and proud of at the time, walk out of his life. No heavy conversations around how the quality of his life since we haven’t spoken had descended with a constant flow.

I no longer had a second chance, and even though I thought I didn’t want it, is that what I am grieving? The loss of having a father in my life, something which I would have loved but had to train myself into feeling I didn’t need it as it became not to be an option.

Grief is a funny old thing and comes in all shapes and sizes, at the weirdest of times and can continue in different capacities for a lifetime.

And the best way of dealing with it, is simply to let it flow.

Don’t resist it.

As uncomfortable/ inconvenient/ exhausting as it can be – let it continue on the path it wants to. Your mind has mapped out a journey of how best to process the pain and loss you are experiencing – allow it to carry out that journey. Try and not make it take a diversion.

I actually feel closer to my dad now than I have done since the last time we spoke. I don’t regret how our relationship panned out (I don’t believe in regrets, they just drain you of your magic) but it would have been lovely to have had a male figure in my life to look up to. Alas, that was not meant to be and I would not be who I am today if I had had that.

Dad, I hope you are finally at peace – both with the world and with myself. Take care up there x

Verity Brown