Living With...Grief - The M Word

Living With…Grief

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My father-in-law passed away in May last year. We knew it was coming but it didn’t make it any easier.

He had had cancer on and off for the past 15 years. He had so many hospital visits and surgery for three different types of cancer along with various infections he’d picked up over the years. I don’t know how he battled for so long though I know the children gave him something to fight for in recent years.

My husband is an only child and is very close to his parents. When I started coming on the scene they were so good to me, even providing hot dinners after a long commute when I moved here. They really took me under their wing which I appreciated so much.

When the children arrived we spent a lot of time with them. My father in law even used to collect us and bring us to their house in the six weeks I couldn’t drive post section. So as a result our children became so close to them too. Even listed them as immediate family along with us and their siblings for the getting to know you questionnaire in Montessori.

He was admitted to hospital once again in early April to start a new chemo treatment. The stay lasted longer than expected as he got an infection. When he came home he was pretty weak. A few days later we knew he wasn’t well at all and my husband and mother in law brought him back up.

I honestly thought he wouldn’t survive the journey. He did and the hospital tried to make him better.

They said he wouldn’t survive. But he gradually got stronger. But then we were told he couldn’t get any more treatment as he was still too weak for it. Such a roller coaster. For the first two weeks of his stay my mother in law and my husband were taking it in turns every second night to stay with him. They were going to try and bring him home for his final few months.

Then the day before he was due to get home he had a bad turn and wasn’t let home. Neither of them left his bedside that week. He sadly passed away the following week.

My children are all pretty young – nearly five, four, and two and as my husband and mother in law were at the hospital 24/7 it was left to me to try and explain it to them. I talked to the Montessori owner when he was first admitted to see if she had dealt with something like that before. She hadn’t but was so nice and found factsheets from the Irish Childhood Bereavement Network  and printed them off for me. They were a great help.

Once we knew that he wasn’t going to get better I knew that I had to talk to them. I sat down with them and tried to explain that the doctors couldn’t make him better this time. That they had done everything they could. That he was going to go to heaven. That he didn’t want to leave them. That he would always be their guardian angel looking down on them and keeping them safe.

Three months have gone since he passed away and we still think of him every day. I still expect to see him in his usual chair. We have had our first Father’s Day without him and I gave my husband a framed photo of him. The children’s birthdays are coming up soon and his presence will be greatly missed in our house. All we have done for birthdays so far is have the two of them come to our house for cake.

Every so often one of the children say I miss grandad. I’ll do my best to remind them in years to come just how much he adored them.

Eimear Lawler
Eimear Lawler
I’m a mammy to three children aged five and under. Life’s a little crazy but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I work part time as an accountant and I stay at home the rest of the time with my children. Getting back into my hobbies of reading and writing and loving it.