My little girl’s grief: ‘I miss daddy’

Flo sitting in leaves

Flo sitting in leaves

‘I miss daddy’, ‘I want daddy’ and ‘where’s daddy?’ are things I hear every single day from my little girl.

When my husband died, my concern for how our children would cope was very much centred on my son.

Sam was six and completely aware of what was going on. He’d had his formative years being close to his dad, and I felt he knew what he would be missing.

Florence had just turned two, and although I obviously kept telling her what had happened, that her daddy was too poorly and he died, I knew she didn’t really understand the permanence or it all. To be honest, neither of them did.

I’ve always worried about how Flo would cope growing up without a dad. Although she has always been a mummy’s girl, I knew the day would come when she realised everyone else had a daddy and hers wasn’t there.

Rog in hospital video still

No one can measure loss or whose is the greatest, but it just feels so desperately sad that Flo had a wonderful man for a father who she will never really know. She remembers him and talks about him every single day, but the truth is they both missed out on what I know would have been a really special relationship.

Flo is a little ray of sunshine, she really is a joy to be around and definitely our ‘easy’ child. I love spending time with her and I see myself in her so much, she really is my little sidekick, my doll and a great source of my happiness.

To know she only has me as a parent now just breaks my heart. Why should any chid have to grow up without a daddy?

Last week, she found some videos of Roger on the iPad, which we took as a way of him to communicate with the kids when he was stuck in the isolation unit at Arrowe Park Hospital.

He was kept in there for weeks after a spell in intensive care on loads of antibiotics gifted him C-Difficile. I was only allowed to sit with him if I was wearing plastic gloves and a plastic apron, and had to put my clothes straight in the wash as soon as I got back home to reduce any contamination risk.

The kids weren’t allowed to see him, and the hospital wi-fi wasn’t good enough for Skype, so we used to make video messages on the iPad so they could each say hello.

Flo and Roger in bed

We still have those videos, thank goodness, but one of them in particular is tough viewing.

In it, Rog tells Sam how he will be coming home soon, and how we will all be off on holiday in our new caravan having fun together. That never happened of course, as Rog went straight from hospital to the hospice. A month after that video was made we were told he had terminal cancer. How life can change in a moment hey?

After Flo watched that video the other day, she was so happy because she thought her daddy was coming home. ‘He’s coming back, mummy!” she cried, and her little eyes looked so happy and shiny. She talked for days about what we would do when daddy came home, one minute making plans and the next saying in the matter-of-fact way small children do that he had died.

On Saturday, I overheard her telling her friend that her daddy had died and was now in the sky, a sentiment which left her pal puzzled as they stood at the front door staring up at the stars. ‘You see my daddy has died now so he is now a star,’ she said, talking about the way I try to explain death to her.

Sweet as it was, I felt for Flo’s friend who seemed a little puzzled by this explanation. It was good to hear some innocent acceptance from my little girl though, to hear her talking about this terrible thing in a way which made her feel proud, proud that her dad was special and shining down on us still.

How she handles losing her dad as she grows remains to be seen, but I have so much hope that she will keep those happy memories of him blowing out the candles with her on her second birthday cake, reading to her in bed, and all the rest that she makes up as she goes along.

The latest was ‘my daddy used to huggle me a lot and call me babycakes’ – the first part was true, the second perhaps not!

x Julia

Flo with leaves

Flo hiding behind leaves

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  • Reply
    November 16, 2016 at 8:41 am

    This was a tough but beautiful read. You’ve captured the escence of Flo to a T. Thanks to Flo my favourite memory of Rog is of him on a trampoline having fun with her. Its not true but I don’t care because the picture she paints is not about trampolining, it’s about joy and love and pride, and Rog had so much of that for his ray of sunshine, more than a lifetime of words could convey. Love you sis. Keep writing. Here’s to our superhero daddy/husband/bro in law/uncle/godfather bever ever forgotten xxxxxx

  • Reply
    Mrs H
    November 16, 2016 at 9:29 am

    Such a beautiful but heart breaking read. I can’t imagine the pain of losing a husband. But watching your children walk through life without their father must be tragic. Flo sounds absolutely gorgeous and a real ray of sunshine. She must miss her Daddy loads. But she is obviously coping with it as well as any three year old can. Hugs Lucy xxxx
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  • Reply
    Beth @ Twinderelmo
    November 16, 2016 at 9:53 am

    What a beautiful little thing she really is. I love how naturally she seems to talk about her beloved Daddy. I’m so glad you have so many pictures and videos to ensure he’s there with you three every step of the way xxx

  • Reply
    Hayley @hayleyfromhome
    November 16, 2016 at 1:53 pm

    She’s so special Julia, I think she’ll always have those memories and the all the things you tell her about Rog will become part of her own memories too. She’ll always remember him because you always talk about him and I love that she says things about him that didn’t happen, it shows that he’s often in her thoughts and he always going to be such a big part of her life. Saying her Daddy is in the stars in so sweet and equally heart breaking, always lots of love to you all xxx
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  • Reply
    November 16, 2016 at 7:21 pm

    It’s so lovely she remembers him every day. My husband lost his dad when he was two as well and his family, to this day, tell so many stories about him that he has a lot of strong memories. Some are his and some given to him as he was too young to make them but i think it’s a big comfort to him to know his dad and from reading your post it feels like Flo already has that building up. Xx
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  • Reply
    Mini Travellers
    November 16, 2016 at 8:37 pm

    lovely lovely Flo, i love her little huggle comment, and I also love Katie’s memory of the trampoline too! Love you Jules. Take care xx
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  • Reply
    Nat halfpenny
    November 16, 2016 at 8:39 pm

    I just love the way you capture things. This is a beautiful post. Lots of love to you and your lovely little ones xx

  • Reply
    November 16, 2016 at 8:49 pm

    That made me happy and sad all at the same time. Flo is clearly a wonderful small person … but she deserved to have Rog a bit longer.

    These posts are beautiful, if bittersweet. Flo will love them when she’s older and she learns to process his death.

    Keep going, honey. You’re doing a wonderful job xxxx

  • Reply
    Claire Barnard
    November 16, 2016 at 8:56 pm

    Oh bless you Julia x it’s hard enough for you to deal with. Watching the grief through your children’s eyes must be heartbreaking x it sounds as ever like you’re doing an amazing job and without they only have one parent now, they have a magnificent one xxx I’m glad that Flo brings you so much happiness, I’m sure it’s a two-way thing xxx lots of love

  • Reply
    Carol Ramsay
    November 16, 2016 at 9:02 pm

    Such a beautiful post, yes very hard to read but it’s wonderful that the kids get to see him regularly on the videos.
    They’ll have their memories and they are special ones that will stay with them forever.
    You’re all so strong, Rog would be so proud.
    Much love x

  • Reply
    November 16, 2016 at 9:37 pm

    Oh my love. How hard for you to hear and attempt to process with both of them.
    Each of your posts gives me more of a window into my mum’s experience and I appreciate all the more how tough it was. But…she did a wonderful job, we have sad days and many many more happy ones with fond memories both real and imagined. I think of you often. Much love to you all. XxX

  • Reply
    November 16, 2016 at 9:53 pm

    Oh I can only imagine how hard it is for you every day with things like that. But I think it is so lovely that she has some memories and is able to talk about her Dad like that, that’s something she will always always treasure. Memories that she will always be able to think of. I know it’s no where near the same but Amelia’s never met/seen her Dad as he didn’t want to be a part of her life and she sometimes says things that I wish I could answer differently. But she has an incredible relationship with my Dad and whenever anyone asks her about her dad she just says “I don’t have a Daddy I have a Gramps” which is just adorable. Your doing an amazing job so don’t doubt yourself xxx
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  • Reply
    Caro | The Twinkle Diaries
    November 16, 2016 at 10:18 pm

    Aaaah darling 🙁 I can hear your voice as I’m reading this – it makes me so sad. I can really see Rog’s face when I look at Flo – he’s living through her isn’t he? It’s so, so sad that they were both robbed of real and lasting memories of each other. She’s lucky that she’s got such an amazing mama. Thinking of you – lots of love xxx
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  • Reply
    Sarah Christie
    November 16, 2016 at 11:07 pm

    Ah Julia its just heartbreaking, and bless Flo it must be so hard to understand all the changes and information, hopefully one day those clips will be more bearable, have you backed them up? Sending hugs xxx
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  • Reply
    November 17, 2016 at 1:14 am

    I want to give you a massive hug for being so brave. Your children are so young to lose someone so important to them and it is heart destroying for both you and them alike. I only hope with time that things will heal for you and your children a little more xxxx
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  • Reply
    Becky | Spirited Puddle Jumper
    November 18, 2016 at 2:21 pm

    Oh Julia, sending lots of love to you all- what a heartbreaking read and you are so strong and brave. Flo sounds like a little cracker and Rog will always shine through her x

  • Reply
    Lisa Valentine
    November 18, 2016 at 9:39 pm

    What a beautiful and heartbreaking post. My daughters were a little older when their stepdad/my fiancé died a few years ago but it still breaks me to see them grieving. You seem to be doing a sterling job. Much love x

  • Reply
    JESS | mummyofboygirltwins
    November 19, 2016 at 3:41 pm

    Oh so sad, but in a good way it’s nice that she talks about him. Not forgotten at all in your hearts. She’s adorable and this is such a beautiful post xx

  • Reply
    Fionnuala Zinnecker
    November 19, 2016 at 10:10 pm

    My youngest is two now and adores his dad. I cannot imagine how hard it must be for you all, her being old enough to remember her dad but too young to grasp what has happened. But in you Flo has a wonderful mother who I am sure will always have plenty of stories to tell and memories to share.

  • Reply
    Emma - Hip2trek
    January 27, 2017 at 10:03 pm

    Aww bless her and you. Heartbreaking and beautiful that she talks of him like that. I’m glad you have those videos. xx

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