Tuesday, April 12, 2011


My father, painted by his good friend, the late Stig Claesson.

Four weeks ago my dear father died, aged 86.
He got pneumonia, and as he had COPD after a lifetime of fervent smoking, and stubborny refusing to quit, his lungs could no longer cope. He moved to a nursing home about a year ago, as he had gone weaker and weaker over the last years.

All my life i've been aware that i would lose him while i was young, -it's not like when my mother suddenly died, aged 64, more than five years ago, -that was a shock i haven't quite recovered from today, if i ever even will... -But it's still sad, as i had naturally hoped for him to get better, though it seemed more and more unlikely. In the past five years i have watched him... like land eroded by the sea, more and more bits of who he was falling away and his clear periods getting fewer and farther between. Because of his diabetes and stubborn refusal to do any kind of excercise offered him, he had also lost use of his legs.

Over the years there have been so many scares and false alarms. He had fallen numerous times, there were so many nights waiting for hours in the emergency room, thinking, and fearing that this might be it.

So the night before he died i was with him for a couple of hours. He was in a morphine haze and unaware of me being there. He was just lying there twitching slightly and breathing strenuously. Shortly after ten i tried to say goodbye to him; i took his hands, -his hands that he would normally have clasped firmly around mine, but now they were all limp, and i should have recognized the signs, but still i went home, strangely convinced that he'd be alright. So i got home and went to bed, and at about six in the morning a nurse called and told me that he had passed away. I went there immediately, and then i just stood there, all numb, looking at him. His hands were still warm, but there could be no doubt.
He was no longer there.

One of my father's self-portraits, probably 1980s

I regret that i might not have visited him as often as i could have since he moved to the home, only a few times per week at most. -sometimes he would call me at four in the morning, thinking it was afternoon, and asking me where the hell i was.
I went there as often as i had could of course, but can't help but feeling like i just dumped him there. That i abandoned him.

My biggest comfort is that I did spend so much time with him in the years between my mother's death and before he got too weak to do anything at all. I tried to get him out of the house, go to see exhibitions and go to museums, movies, restaurants and for long walks. And it's also comforting to think of what a long and eventful life he had after all.

So now i am an orphan. -though at times i've felt like i was his parent, i often feel like i have the mental capacity of an eight-year old. I've been held back by all of this, hardly realised any plans, if i ever even had any... i haven't had the energy to take up studies or do anything at all. In a way i am now free to start living, but i don't know where to begin... -and sometimes, i must admit, i feel uncertain whether i even want to, and just falling asleep forever seems so incredibly tempting, but as i have a fear of blades, heights and pain in general, and have no doctor to give me any kind of pills i guess i'm going to have to go on living.
Hopefully someday i'll even learn to enjoy it again.

Me, aged five, photographed by my father.

One of his favorites with Jussi Björling.


A Thousand Clapping Hands said...

Dear Tutta,

I am so sad to hear of your loss. I can't empasize enough how all of your feelings are normal - from feeling as if you abandoned him (you didn't) to having no desire to go on, to feeling as though you are still 8. You are not alone. I've experienced these very same feelings and wouldn't be surprised if they don't return again sometime. Life is like riding a wave. Those of us who are prone to depression hit the lowest lows, but so do we reach the highest highs. Wait patiently. There is so much of life, and so much happiness yet for you to discover. Take care...

A Thousand Clapping Hands said...

Hello Tutta,
I've been thinking of you and hope that you are okay. I wanted to tell you that my friend, Ysabel, has a new blog about grief that you should take a look at...perhaps even participate on. The link is gettingalongwithgrief dot blogspot. She is an amazing poet and writer who I know you would admire. Other writers are contributing to her site, too and sharing their experiences - not only of their grief but of their recovery also.
I have found anti-depressants to be of help in the past although I wean myself off of them once I'm feeling better. But, honestly they can make a world of difference.
Best wishes dear one,

Circe said...

Dearest Tutta,

I don't know how I missed this, am so so sorry.

You have been on my mind the past few days since I was able to read and re-read this post... I feel your pain, loss, confusion. Catherine is right; while each loss is deeply personal and unique to each of us, no matter the circumstance, the feelings you express are quite normal under the circumstances. Wednesday was my Father's birthday, celebrated in a mass said for him in my stepmother's church this past Sunday, Mother's Day, here in the states. On the 26th of this month is the 2 year anniversary of losing him, which happens to be my Mother's birthday as well. What to think of this? Or the fact that while I had little preparation for my Mother's death when I was 18, the signs and years of my Father's decline should have had me spending more time with him. But there is NEVER enough time when we love someone. That is not your fault. Seeing your father several times a week, while not the same as living with him, seeing him daily, IS frequent by most standards-- how many people do you or I go out of our way to see that often that regularly? And yet. It is so easy to replace grief with guilt. Anger with depression..Loss with regret. Feeling numb for a time can be a blessing, but never fear to feel and express what you are going through... it is in part what this life is for.

To feel alone, that another cannot possibly understand, that these feelings are out of whack or to feel guilty- these are among the greatest lies that we can be told.

Feel free to feel. My heart is with you.

Dear heart...