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A Child's Grief

I stand there, frozen, salty tears stinging my eyes as they flow freely down my face. My mother stands there, trembling, her face already tear stained, looking from me to my sister who has broken down sobbing loudly, tears cascading down her face, questioning what my mother has just told us. I realise I’ve been speaking. The word ‘no’ is sounding in my voice over and over like a broken record. I shut my mouth and run to my mother who hugs me as I cry into her shoulder. The pain is unbearable and with every sob I’m gasping for breath; I feel like there’s not enough oxygen in the room. The tears continue to fall and I can feel my world crashing silently around me. I will never recover from this.

Months later I’m walking around the Crematorium where my father’s ashes were scattered, and I’m talking to him. I’m still angry at him for leaving me, something he promised he would never do. The tears always flow easily when I’m here, where I feel closest to him, because I know he won’t be ashamed at me for showing how I really feel.

I can’t decide whether we’ve become closer as a family or not. It’s difficult living at home, I’ve found myself looking after my mother as she struggles to cope with what has happened, and who can blame her, she’s lost her soul mate. I’m struggling too, though I can’t show it, not to her, not to my sister, not to anyone. I have to be strong for the rest of them, I’m the one who seems to be holding the fragile pieces of our family together, I’m supporting them both, but who’s going to support me? I tried to get some sort of counselling, but I wasn’t deemed a high priority, so I told them to go f*ck themselves. Perhaps that was a bit harsh, but like I said I was already struggling.

I’m promising my dad I’ll read the book he was unable to finish. It seems silly really, of all the things he’ll now miss and I’m worrying that he never finished his book. Still, it seems important somehow and so I sit there and promise him I’ll read it and tell him how it all ends. The tears have stopped now and I sniff loudly as an elderly woman shuffles past me with a large bunch of flowers, probably intended for her husband. I hear a noise to my left and see a small squirrel scurrying along the stone path, it hesitates briefly by a small array of flowers before pulling the head off one of them. Scampering away again it sits beneath a nearby bush and begins eating the flower head, I smile slightly, remembering how my dad had told me that squirrels like eating the nectar from flowers. It brings fresh tears to my eyes as I remember these fond memories of him and then I’m back to being angry at him for abandoning our family.

A year has passed and we’re all dealing a lot better with our grief. It’s still difficult at times, and there are moments when the pain is so hard to bear that I think I’ll just collapse. There are still days when I don’t think I can face getting out of bed, yet somehow I manage. Somehow life has continued, and I’ve managed to survive the hurt, and the anger, and the pain of loss. I smile more at the memories of him, I like recalling funny stories about him to my friends. And I kept my promise to him. I read the book he never got to finish and he finally found out how that story ended, even if he never got to know mine.

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