“To my dad in the stars”
This is how Rachel addressed a card to her dad, Brian, who died of cancer when she was four years old and he was 44. Rachel, her two sisters and their mum wrote in to The Ryan Tubridy Show recently as part of the An Post The Letter Never Sent competition. Ryan spoke to the girls’ mum, Sinéad today and she explained to Ryan where the idea of the stars came from:
“We had a lovely priest friend a few years ago when my dad passed away and I remember talking to him saying ‘How do I explain this to my young children?’ And he came up with the analogy that they are a star in the sky, so we just continued that then for Brian.”
Sinéad said that she and the girls got a lot out of writing in to the show, but she thought their letters would end up buried at the bottom of the pile. Instead, their little packet of four found its way right to the top. The three girls wrote to thank their dad and the many people who had surrounded them with love when he died. Ryan read extracts from each. Aisling, the eldest girl, described how the three of them used to rush Brian for a hug every day when he came home from work.
“We still remember the feeling of your cold jacket and your warm hands”
Emma, the middle daughter, wrote about her gratitude for anyone who helped with the loss of her dad, especially her mum; who she describes as “my favourite person to see smile.” The kindness of strangers gets a mention too.
“This letter is to thank everyone who’s made a difference to my life and the random people who smile at me when I walk by, who don’t realise how much a smile can do to a person’s day.”
Ryan asked Sinéad about the best way to bring a child “with you” in the grieving process? She told him what she says to her daughters.
“Acknowledge your sadness, but you have to live your life too. And you try, and it’s an effort at the beginning to try and enjoy things. But I think in time, you’ll realise that maybe you’re not trying so hard anymore. It’s important to have happiness and laughter in your life.”
As the family prepares for Christmas, Sinéad says her youngest daughter can’t always recall the clearest of memories of her dad. But perfect love doesn’t need perfect memories. Rachel’s love for her Dad shines on.
“I find it hard to remember, but I love you to the moon and back”
Sinéad talks about the importance of laughter in the grieving process, of talking a lot about someone who’s passed away, and most of all the power of kindness in the full interview here.
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