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My Father Died – The 4 Day Journey – Day 3

If you missed Day One & Day Two

Day 3

We are ready for those waiting to say goodbye to Dad. His visitors include work colleagues, old school friends, friends of the family, and relatives.  Stories, of Dad’s antics usually comedic has us smiling.  We ask questions of the visitors.  Their answers reveal more parts of Dad’s life. As part of our tradition the visitors move through to refreshments. Here, general conversation flows and somehow normality pierces the veil of unreality. Then the prevailing sadness enters your mind and the veil goes up.

Extended family members  answer our unspoken need.  They  provide gazebo’s, gas heaters, tables, chairs, and a continuous supply of food. This contingency of relatives gives time for the immediate family to just ‘be’. You hear the term of allowing you to ‘be’ and this is what the extended family members did for us.

Discussions about the funeral service start and then stop.   There is some gentle nudging from extended family members.  Until the outline of the funeral service has been somewhat decided upon. The visitors have left and the evening service can begin.

The last night for the departed is a time of sharing.  We call it Poroporo arki (por raw por raw  ah key) this is where family members gather for the last time. Sharing a story or memory of the departed one.  Mum sits next to Dad, the gathering consists of;  9 siblings, and partners. 27 grandchildren and one great grandchild. As well as extended family members.  Children share their stories of their Granddad. Some breakdown as the grief washes over them.  We wait, we wait for them to breath and we wait for them to finish their story.  There is no rush as this is the last night for us to be in the same room as our Dad. I stand up and share the memories of the home that Dad designed.  He designed it with children in mind.  In the 1970’s  door handles were out of the reach of children.  In the house that Dad built, door handles were low enough for use by both child and adult.  He introduced a pulley system for the main doors. This pulley system would close the door when opened.  This solved the problem of warm air escaping due to children leaving doors open.   I too am swept away by  emotion as my voice breaks midway through my story. I swallow and breath and describe  the memory of Dad sitting in the front row at one of my public talks.  He has tears rolling down his face as I speak, he is smiling at me through those tears, his eyes fixed on me. It was one of the most challenging and treasured moments in my public speaking career.

A song is composed, using the written words on Dad’s coffin. The tune is one which Dad would whistle.  It has a haunting melody and the words describe a journey of love.  It is to be our Family Song, a song we will sing at Dad’s funeral service. It is our last night with Dad.  A restless night for us as time ticks away towards Day 4.

Click link to hear  The tune Dad whistled.


My Father Died – The 4 Day Journey – Day 2

If you missed Day One.

Day Two

The alarm finally rings.   I get up not sure if I have slept and begin my journey home;  I am dressed and ready.  I bid farewell to my friend,  she would come with me if she thought it would help.  At this stage it is hard to know what will help.  I arrive at the airport and find my way to the lounge.  I have a crying episode, as I post the announcement on Face book  that Dad has died.  A little of reality pierces my protective fog of unreality but this quicly disappears. I am once again in a bubble of semi awareness. On the flight I attempt to bury myself in a movie. But this does not work, music does not work, so I just sit.

I arrive mid afternoon, in Auckland, New Zealand.  I make my way to the public pick up area and wait  for my son to arrive to take me to Dad. Whilst I am waiting, I see  a young girl staring at me.  This is my niece Holly.  She has travelled from Brisbane with the rest of her family  to bid farewell to her Grandfather.   I had walked past my sister and in our respective fogs we had not seen each other.  We hold each other crying and for a long time we just keep holding onto each other.  We are all journeying to farewell Dad.

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My Father died. The 4 day journey – Day One

As a Global Consultant, I  assist people through grief including the loss of a loved one. This is my story of my own journey through grief.

Dad was the first man I loved. It is not until the physical death of your Father that you realise your Dad is truly gone.

Day one…

On the 19th of June 2015, my Dad died, in New Zealand.  He was in discomfort when he died and surrounded by family members.

That same day, I had boarded a flight in Sydney heading to Melbourne for the weekend.  I knew my Dad’s time was close. My phone was left on until the last moment before departure.  It was in that moment  that  I got the call. My Dad was dead.   The doors shut on that flight and for 70 minutes tears flowed down my face.  My friend was sitting next to me, quiet, responding to any indication from me of a need to be filled.  I think if I asked her to stop the plane she would. She became this shield from the world as I went into the world of unreality.

70 minutes passed by and as I walked down the aisle my shield of unreality started to become reality. Life activities began to take over and routine ensued; Go to the baggage carousel to wait with other passengers for luggage; taxi to booked accommodation; check in at the designated accommodation; organise the flight back to NZ.  Doors are opened as I say the words ‘My Dad has died’, condolences are offered, but the shield has been put back up.  Not a lot permeates the fog that now occupies my mind.

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