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It’s your time to be selfish

By Lara Rodwell, Author of From "Prognosis to Peace: Navigating Grief Through Discovery, Gratitude and Healing"

In March 2020, Lara’s Dad, David, was given a terminal prognosis after being diagnosed with an aggressive form of Bowel Cancer. This was around the same time as the first COVID-19 British lockdown, which Lara says blessed her family with two silver linings: ‘time and togetherness’. Here, Lara shares her journey with us.

Why you should be selfish

If there’s one piece of advice, I’d give to anyone in a similar position to that which I was in – to have a loved one facing a terminal prognosis – it’d be to be selfish, no matter how hard it feels. By the end of this blog post, I hope you understand why.

In October 2021, I published my first book, ‘From Prognosis to Peace’, it bridges a difficult, but vital, gap in communication. It grants you permission to gently start your grieving process with your loved one, before fate takes its toll. I know from first-hand experience that this is not easy. In fact, accepting the fact that my dad was going to die was probably hardest thing I’ve ever done or ever will do. However, the peace I felt once I could talk about it with him was an invaluable part of my healing journey. I’m here to meet you where you’re at, right now, and guide you from a place of empathy and compassion. If you read the book, by the end of it, I hope you will feel stronger, lighter, and more connected to yourself, your loved one and the world around you.

Dealing with grief

When my Dad received his terminal prognosis in March 2020, I didn’t want there to be a single word left unsaid to him. It was my sole aim for as long as we had left together to acknowledge, accept, and process the grief with him before he died. During this time together, he often pointed out how it’s not him we should feel sorry for, as he’s not going to be suffering anymore. It’s us four kids. It’s my Mum. We’re the ones going to left behind. The refreshingly unvarnished perspective my dad embodied gave me permission to be selfish. It allowed me to ask him for what I needed to feel more at peace with the cards our family had been dealt.

I spent the next six months writing my thoughts and feelings down to my dad. At first, this was purely because I couldn’t say what I wanted to say out loud. I couldn’t vocalise how hard it would be to not have him walk me down the aisle one day or meet his (completely hypothetical) grandchildren. It seemed nonsensical at first to initiate conversations about the fact my Dad had x number of days, weeks, or months to live. However, through writing, we both began to embrace a form of honest and open communication. Alongside the ‘action lists’ I asked my dad to fill in, we wrote poems and letters to each other. With a shared (rather dark) sense of humour, we made light out of a rather morbid situation. In the book, From Prognosis to Peace, I include snippets of conversations we had and poems we shared. Both of which get me through the darkest of days.

Compilation of Lara and her Dad

Strategies for grieving

There were several other strategies I used throughout this time to get as much as possible from the finite amount of time Dad and I had together – all of which were just as much for me, if not more, as they were for him. I started to record conversations we were having using the ‘voice memo’ widget on my phone. I now have them on a folder on my laptop that I can listen to whenever I need to hear his voice. I also texted him everyday with something I’m grateful to him for; one of which he responded with “this is one of the hardest things that you are dealing with, and you are doing it with love and positivity that is difficult for me to fully comprehend”. The peace he felt by knowing that I would not only accept, but be grateful for, the bond we shared was important to me. In a way, it was closure to a relationship that was extremely special to us both. With tactical and delicate foresight, I collected the resources I needed to feel at peace myself.

And now I have a wedding speech, tucked away in a keepsake of memories.

I have an abundance of recordings. A voice of reassurance.

I have those texts. Constant reminders that I’m not alone.

I have the tools I need to ground myself in those moments where I feel like life isn’t worth living if he isn’t by my side.

And now, I have every reason to believe that he’s here. He’s here with me.

Most importantly, I have the confidence that wherever he is, he’s free.

On top of that, I am too.

That’s me, for now.

Best,

Lara x

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