This is a series of my personal journey with grief. It's a record of my thoughts and feelings following the sudden death of my father. I'm writing these texts partly for myself, but it's also written for others; in hopes that it finds whoever is going through something similar, so that they have something to resonate with; to find comfort in. If you're going through something similar, know that you're not alone.

[Text 1]

It’s been 274 days since the sudden passing of my dad, but I remember every moment of the night of his death vividly, as if it just happened last week. It’s crazy to think that we’re coming up on the 1-year anniversary of his death.

Ever since he passed, I’ve felt this gaping chasm in my heart. It’s not a chasm or hole that can be simply filled by others, like a romantic relationship, a close friendship, mentorship; or even mothership, for that matter. It’s like breaking the foundation of everything you once knew about the world, the perception of the world you once knew just crumbled before you. It’s the sudden removal of order, with chaos ensuing, filling every part of life until you’ve learnt to cope with it, externally and internally. All of the thought and security that you once laid your trust on, just gone. Suddenly, it’s like you’re left to float in unending empty space, with nothing to anchor you. No security, no truth, at least for a brief moment. Life, as you know it, becomes that. It becomes floaty, dreamy. It becomes uncertain, perhaps permanently; and painful, at least until you’re able to find a new way to anchor yourself.

I guess that’s what it’s like, to fall into chaos. Life isn’t and will never be what you used to know anymore. Then it takes time, and effort, A LOT of effort, to bring about some semblance of order back into life. To restructure the world as we know it without an axiom we once had. It’s like trying to make ABC soup without using potatoes, and looking for alternatives. The new product won’t be ABC soup anymore, but you’d call it ABC soup anyway. Restoring order isn’t easy. It’s difficult, and it’s new and increased effort you have to put in everyday.

Life is uncertain, that’s for sure. I wish I talked to my dad more. He had so much insight, and was always so wise. I love him like no other.

It’s a weird feeling. I don’t think anything will ever replace the hole my father left. It’s almost been a year, and I feel like nothing’s changed. The pain is still there. It still hurts, but I’ve just gotten used to it. At this point, crying is like, “This again? It won’t change a single thing. What’s the point of even crying anymore.” It’s like I’ve learnt to live with grief, and maybe that’s how it is. That’s how people who’ve lost loved ones continue to live.

[Text 2]

The inability to feel true joy.

I can't experience joy for what it is anymore. I mean I can, but it's only for a short period (like a few heartbeats), before the feeling of impending doom takes over (again). It's like I'm always on my toes, ready for anything bad to happen, no matter how good things may seem to be in the moment.

This feeling impresses itself most deeply when I'm with my family. It didn't help that the events leading up to my dad's death were filled with nothing but pure joy, gratitude and love. I like to think that God was allowing us to unknowingly enjoy our last moments together, but it's just impossible for me to experience pure joy anymore after that.

To draw a clearer picture of what I mean, one day before his death, I spontaneously thanked my dad for everything that he ever did for me. I told him how thankful I was in the way he brought me up, the school he chose to sent me to, the choices he made throughout my life in thought of me (and my sister and brother), and the scoldings throughout my youth. I just, out of nowhere, while we were having lunch at a restaurant in Penang, said all of that to him. It was very out of the blue. I didn't know why but I just had the urge to say these things to him. Then, on that same night, I played the guitar for him while he sang his favourite songs. It was beautiful, the night before he passed.

But now, if I ever come even remotely close to such a wholesome moment with my family, I feel nothing but dread and the anticipation of something terribly bad happening. My mind goes on high alert and my heart starts to race, ready for the next terrible thing to happen. My chest would feel like war drums sounding, fully consuming me and taking me out of the present, thinking that only horror will follow. If I'm always ready for the next bad thing to happen, life couldn't catch me by surprise anymore, right?

It takes away from experiencing the moment. But maybe that's just how life is. You can't have everything your way, hun. We can only try to make the most out of what we have, to seize and to live each moment to its fullest...

We all live a life that's broken in some way, but I believe the beauty lies in-between the cracks. :)

Last updated: 13/10/2023.