Do you remember the first time you saw a dead body?
I have now seen 3 (maybe 4) in my life, the last one being my father, yesterday. Due to the Coronavirus he had to wear a mask even though he was dead. Yep a bit weird, but it is weird times we are in ladies and gents. PS we don’t think it was Coronavirus, but we still need to be careful.
The first body I saw was his mum, who I don’t remember much about, other than hiding behind/inside my Dads’ jumper at the door when we knocked to visit, and him trying to encourage her to remember who I was. Only later when Dad was diagnosed did my sisters remind me that she had Alzheimer’s too.
We are sitting in the care home reception waiting for the doctors and police to be done seeing the body so we could go up. It all happened so fast we were not there for his passing, and as it’s sudden and unexpected, here in the UK the doctor and police have to come and check the body first, and a postmortem before we can do anything with his body. My sister turned around and says ‘Do you remember when Dad brought you in to see Gran when she was dead, can’t believe he did that, how old must you of been?’ I must have been about 6/7 I think, and I remember thinking she was very pale, and I can’t believe my Dad was holding her hand and kissing her forehead, that’s so weird, shes dead mate, she must be cold.
The care home manager gives us all masks and apologies as we and my father have to wear masks, and they need to stay on. I wasn’t sure what my reaction would be when I see him, if I could be calm or if I would lose my shit like the night he went missing back in 2016. When we got upstairs we were met by a police offer who told us the same things again and said he would need to be in the room with us, and are we ok with that. My general reaction was ‘Yeh, shit happens, all good, making sure we don’t do anything surspish, I get it’ or something equally as jokey and dismissive, but hopefully in a polite way haha.
We walk in and they have dressed him smartly, lying back in the bed with a mask covering most of his face. I sit one side of the bed while my sister and brother in law are on the other. We prayed, read the bible and just sat with him a little while. We are born again Christians and so is my Father, that being said we believe he is in heaven with the Lord Jesus and exactly where he would want to be. That brings a sense of peace that’s unexplainable, however, even with that, there will be the grieving and it’s still difficult to lose him from this world, even if he mentally hasn’t been fully with us in it for a long time (maybe ever hahaha).
I knew I should hold his hand, Dad wouldn’t be arsed but would have encouraged it to see what its like for me if it was someone else hahaha. His hands are something I have taken far more notice in, in his later years, and in my mind very distinctive for him. I don’t know if it was my mind telling me this or if it was real but his hands still had a slight warmth to them. The skin around his neck sagged down around his windpipe and his eyes are ever so slightly open, can just see the smallest crack of blue. However talking of blue, he had a face mask covering what is 3/4 of his face, but it think that helped, not sure I could have seen all his face without having a more vocal reaction of despair that he is actually dead, as something tells me he would have looked weird. He would have died within an hour, no more than two before we could go in, so who whos, he might have still been warm.
I wanted to pack his things then and there, the home can give the rest to charity, he had so very little belongings anyway it took the whole of 10 mins to get what I wanted which was some small bits, jumpers, ties and hats and scarfs. We will see what the next steps are, but now I am just in a little limbo. Don’t deal very well with my emotions anyway (very British of me) so just plodding along. I have been mourning him a long time now, losing a little bit at a time over the years, and we knew this day would come. His death wasn’t drawn out, he shouldn’t have been in pain and he is heaven so couldn’t ask for more.
No pictures in this blog I am afraid, and I can’t bring myself to look at too many right now. Also not up for phone calls or voices notes yet either. In time I am sure I can ring the people who have been messaging and all that stuff, but going to throw myself into project managing everything that needs to get done for him now and keep busy.
This blog if anything is just a capsule of my feelings over the last 4 years, and if I don’t write something straight away the memories and feeling fade. This experience has taught me one thing that memories are precious, easily forgotten, and also not everything. Because if you put all your worth in them, what happens when you get dementia? Well your fucked haha. So I will continue to chatter away, maybe finally edit all the video footage I have, and still try to be connected to the Dementia community, more than just being experienced by it.
Thank you for everyone who has had even the smallest part of our journey together in the last 4 years and even before <3 God bless xx