It's been just over a year since I began talking to people for this podcast, when it began, I was really nervous. I felt really vulnerable opening up to people talking about such a sensitive topic and something that brought up so many difficult feelings for me. Listeners of the show will know that I felt angry, I felt sad. I've laughed and I've cried a lot. And though we've talked at length about grief being a messy personal journey with no linear path, I think the last year and two seasons of open and honest conversations have helped me arrive at a different place.
I still miss my mom every single day, but I recognize my grief more. I know how to handle it a little bit better. This season on debt becomes him. I talk to people who have experienced unimaginable loss. Each of their stories is unique, but as always, there was one commonality. Talking about it is therapy. For today's episode of Death Becomes Am I talk to Jess Redden, Jess joins me virtually from Perth, Australia, where she has been since earlier this year with her fiance, Rob Carney.
Jess opens up about her father's passing last year and how he encouraged her to live her life to the fullest. She talks about the shock of his death, her plans for marriage and finding hope for the future. And joining us today from Australia, I'm not jealous at all, it's the gorgeous Jess Redon. Jess, how are you?
Hi, Brian, how are you? I am great, thank you. I'm really well. I can actually see you today with the system we've set up. And you are sporting a lovely tan. And I'm going to presume that's probably a real tan, right?
It is indeed. Yeah. Yeah. I've been here three weeks now, plus the two weeks in the hotel room. So yes, I've been away for a while now.
Let's talk about the two weeks in the hotel room because honestly, you were giving me your life. We had makeup tutorial. That was a hair tutorial. There was a skin tutorial, fashion shows.
It was almost like I kind of thought to myself she would have been really good and Big Brother, she would have been my competition. I would have been like, get that bitch out. She's going to win. How was all of that going to Australia and happen to isolate for two weeks?
You couldn't even leave your hotel room, right?
No, we couldn't. And we couldn't open the windows, which I didn't know before we went over. I thought I just presumed we'd have like a balcony or you could go outside for some fresh air. But no, nothing. You just had the one room and your bathroom. And that was so I mean, it was a bit testing. But, you know, you just have to stay positive in these things. You tap the cards you have and they look at me now I'm having the time of my life over here.
And it was so worth the way you went, even if there was, you know, a testing time, like go to the toilet, lock the door.
Yeah. Oh, no. It was actually like even I think if I didn't have Instagram, which is so weird, like in the world that we live in, that really kept me going all the positivity. And because usually I mean, I got the motivation from people being like, what did you actually run ten 10k this morning in a hotel room? And then people were kind of copying me and doing it in their house or in their garage. And I just thought that was fantastic.
So that motivated me more to keep going and do more weird random stuff. I'm going to speak freely.
You did not inspire me to do any exercise, but you did inspire me to laugh in a way of looking at you, going, how is she doing this? Like how or where are you finding the energy? But do you believe in in that kind of positive thinking and trying to stay positive at all costs?
Totally. I think that your brain is like any other muscle in your body. You have to work at it. And from someone, the struggle myself in the past, like everyone at some stage in our life, we're going to deal with difficult parts in your life and you really have to focus each day on trying to be positive, however small that is, to set out your goals and just try and stay positive.
I think this year, for some strange reason, I was OK last year with everything that was happening. I find this year I'm finding it difficult to kind of see the light. And my husband, Arthur, as everyone knows, is so positive, much like yourself. I just think I'm finding it really difficult to kind of get the mojo back. And I really I really kind of want to, but I'm just a bit like a level five pandemic.
We can't go anywhere other than the weather, so shit.
But I think I just need to give myself a kick up the arse, right? No, not necessarily.
Like, I don't I think that we all need to allow ourselves to have those weeks or months or even if it's a year, if you don't like doing exercise, that's that's totally personal. That's a feeling you might be like in a week's time. But I wouldn't pressure yourself. I don't think I'm going to feel like in a week's time.
Thank you so much for agreeing to have this conversation and recording an episode with us. It's not an easy conversation to have. And you would said I think it was an interview recently, I think you said on your Instagram, but you try to find support online. But grief is something that's not widely spoken about. Why do you think that is?
Personally, I think well, from my own experience. So when dad died, it all happened so quickly. And I just kind of I've never really been in the position before to look for resources. I find your podcast, which was just such a great help to me. I don't know what it was, just maybe somebody else going through the same experience. It just gave you a bit of comfort and pushed to go back to why I think people don't speak about it.
Maybe it's just because, ah, and we have such a kind of traditional culture and people kind of shy away from talking about the topic of death. And I don't know the real reasons behind that, but I think it does need to be more widely spoken about. I think sometimes people I found in my own personal case was I was embarrassed to tell people I was sad because then you're not sure how people will react to that. But like, you are allowed to be sad, but then you're allowed to laugh and you were allowed to be happy.
Yeah, I think people try to kind of dampen down their emotions and not show all of their cards maybe and where else not to burden other people. I think as a culture, we kind of want to keep everything in and make sure, you know, everybody else is OK. But then the most important person is yourself. So we do need to talk more. And I know you say in. Talking to therapy, that couldn't be more true, that was the best advice I got.
But you know what? I actually got that from from our mom on. Our moms whole philosophy was you could solve any problem if you sat down and had a cup of tea and had a honest conversation. And that was one of the reasons. And thank you so much for saying the podcast helped you. So good to hear. But that was one of the reasons about the podcast, was if we sit down and have a very open, honest conversation as well as healing our own hearts, because talking as therapy will encourage other people in the same position to have the conversation.
I agree. Yeah, totally. You were saying the podcasts helped you personally. What was it that you actually got from the episodes?
I think it was just the situation I was in was completely unknown to me and hearing that other people were experiencing similar emotions or similar circumstances or news and how they process things, it's totally subjective experience. But there are some similarities in people's stories and that's what we come first. And then to hear people talking maybe five years on, 10 years on, that's hope. So I suppose hope is what it gave me listening to other people. How are you feeling now?
Well, it's actually all still quite raw, like if I'm honest with myself, I would probably say I'm still in a bit of denial and we only passed away five months ago in September. And so I probably am still in denial. We met for dinner last week actually with another Irish family, and they had said, oh, your parents must be so excited for you. Are they hoping to come over? I'm like, I hadn't been in that situation before, so I just I kind of set my default with.
Yeah, yeah. They're so excited. And it was just such a strange experience. And then they kind of realized themselves, oh, god, I'm so sorry to hear about your dad. So that was so unusual for me. And then I came home, not a big cry and I felt better then just little things like that that are going to keep popping up. And but even still, when people say, look, I'm so sorry to hear about your dad, I have this concrete wall up and I'm like, well, it's not my dad, I'm fine.
So sometimes it is. People describe it as like the ocean one minute and then all of a sudden, boom, just every cell in your body is just overcome with this.
It's still so raw for you. It's only February. You lost your dad in September. You're probably still in shock.
Yeah, I would agree with that, but I do think so. I lost my gran six years ago and I dealt with that so badly even at the five minute mark of the three month mark, because I never talked about it. It just was something I was so, so close to her. But I never spoke to anybody about it and I never talk to her. It's something I do now. I keep saying talk to her, but I even talk to dad.
I'll be down on the beach and say all this verbally loud or even I'll text him. And sometimes still after exams and doing my masters is finishing that when all this was going on. And I have a huge copulations exam just before Christmas and I just burst into tears afterwards because he was always the person that I would call or text. So I sent him a text my actually that made me feel better. But with Gran, I didn't talk to anybody and I didn't talk to her.
And I think that's the big difference. So no, I'm saying I'm fine. I'm fine. But I think I'm dealing with this quite well in comparison to other losses that I've had. And also, it's once you recognise that yourself, you can actually work through it. You're not in denial. You know, your dad has passed, but it helps you to send him a text. It helps you to talk to him, and you need to do what works for you.
Yeah, I agree. Rather than just trying to I mean, for some people, they do want to turn a blind eye to every time, you know, it's fine. People just cope differently and there's no right or wrong. That's the other thing I've learnt as well. There's no people actually on a daily basis. I've lost someone. My heart goes out to anyone that loses someone. But there is no textbook to say this is how you're going to feel better because there is no one blanket fits all.
No. And also the thing that kind of bonds us all is the fact we've lost a parent.
But our own journey with grief is so unique and individual to us and our personalities. Yes, it's so strange. I was a donor. I was oblivious because that's the wrong word. Maybe I was oblivious because I've not lost a parent. I still have my mum and dad. I was the only one I'd lost mum and I spoke about it openly. So many messages from people who just want to know they're not alone and how they're feeling. They're not going fucking mad.
It's OK to feel like this.
And that's why I think that so great, obviously, that you're doing this podcast or even platforms like social media, sometimes they can be taken advantage of with other things that are on there. But, you know, with grief, I think it's such a great thing to be able to help even just one person. And because I do get messages and Instagram with such a thing that my dad would even think of, like in the hospital, he would ask me, oh, please bring me over my phone.
I want to watch your stories. And he would watch them again and again and again. Even if I was at home, I'd listen to him in the kitchen and he'd be rewinding the story and listening to it umpteen times. So it meant a lot to him as well. And so I think that's another driver of why I do what I do on there.
So for you, when you are now currently in Australia, that will be bittersweet for you because he's the one person you want to show where you're living to when you go for a walk on the beach. How are you processing that?
So when he was in hospital back in August, September, Robert got the news that he was going to possibly be moving over and nothing was confirmed. So it's so fortunate that I got to tell dad that because he was like, obviously the number one fan. You just dropped so much. And so when he heard that news, he was just delighted. I remember that day so well because it was like he got so much life back on him. And when he was so excited and he said, well, we are going to come down to Perth and we're going to rent a little apartment and we'll go for three months or four months and it'll be lovely.
And it gave him so much hope and so much happiness that. That's lived on through me, if I talk like this, riffling fact that when someone dies and you know that all their positive attributes and everything else ripples on through you. And so I try and imagine that he is here with me looking down through something that I do believe.
Talk to me about that ripple effect and what you mean by that. So it's a what I heard again, and I was trying to find resources online and I heard a psychotherapist talking about, I think the Australian actually he had described it as his father had passed away and all of his positive attributes that his dad had, he still them on to his son and then to someone to fill them on to his child. So that way he was living on through through all of his family matters really like that.
What it was the philosopher. Yes. It's an infinite you know, they might not physically be here, but their attributes and everything else can live on through to their family.
Talk to us about your father, Brian. I don't know if you're smiling now. That's always a good sign.
Well, I think to start because I think every single condolence card we got had the word gentleman, and he was just a true gentleman. Like everyone would describe him as nice. And he was quite old fashioned in his ways. I loved that about him. You always wore a suit and tie and you just had a really traditional views. And one of my favorite pictures of all time was just after Rob and I got engaged, Rob showed me the photo of him asking dads for my hand marriage.
So they went, oh, wow, that was so special. And that maybe more emotional than anything else. And but it was so lovely to see that. And just the smile on my dad's face, every photo of my dad smiling and and but he was just so positive. Like even towards the end when he did get bad news, his legs were swollen up with this lymphoedema. I don't think I'm going to be walking around like he was just his positivity was honestly contagious.
And but he was just he was an incredible man. He was old fashioned in his ways, but a gentleman and so kind, so caring and really hard working.
Do you think you're quite like him?
I would hope that I am. I would like to be like and I always looked up to him even from a really young age. I was like, why do you just work so hard? And he instilled kind of all that gratitude and everything that he had for life it onto us as well. Even though we were so blessed to be able to go on holidays. Often I feel all the rest of it. But we always were so grateful of that because he told us that things don't just get handed, you have to work for them.
I like what you said. I think a lot of us can say that about our Irish parents, hard working and traditional. I think it's quite good when your parents kind of installed on you as a child, unless she really supportive. My mother was very much like no one should judge anyone. And especially as a parent, you never know what's going to knock at your door. So you can't look down on someone because when you have children, you've no idea what that child is going to be or what's going to happen.
Your dad passed away on September 3rd. Talk us up to just before September and how things were. What your dad. So he was diagnosed with prostate cancer, so traditionally. So obviously I'm doing pharmacy, so I have my pharmacy hat on the whole time, which was great, both of us, because I was able to be involved in all those transitions of care. And he was able then to ask me about different medicines and all the rest of it.
So you diagnosed with prostate cancer, which was a good one to get because it's indolent, which means so growing. So most men that are diagnosed with prostate prostate cancer never actually die of the cancer itself. So some other cause that's one had metastasized. That means spread. But it was still looking positive. He had done chemotherapy and radiation in August of last year. So August twenty nineteen, we were in Vincent's doing radiation. And I remember Mom and I went with them every day of his treatment by 10 days.
And in a weird way, I really enjoyed those trips because we had these profound chats and we never talked about death before. But one thing that always struck my mind, he said to me, I'm not afraid of dying just like a little bit more time. And that kind of gave me a little bit of comfort as well, that he said, I'm not afraid. He only got a year after that. But I'm so back in June, his consultant rang them and said, oh, it's good news.
It's not in any of your organs. So we were all like, oh, happy day, because you always kind of just waiting. And then two weeks later, I got a call myself from the consultant, and I was one of those really annoying family members. That's like calling off the doctor or every family needs one of them.
We'd go into the hospital, they went into most of his appointments, and the nurses would be like, oh, my God, here is your walk away.
But anyway, the doctor told me him hundred messages and he said to me, oh, look, it's not the six to 12 months. And that was the end of the phone call. And I just the floor went from under me. My names were like convulsing. And I just like the shriek, which felt like I was only minutes and I didn't even know that. So as a child, as a daughter, you tell your parents that kind of news.
So try to compose myself. Went home and I told them the conversation I had, which lasted no more than two minutes, and they said, no, you got it wrong. They must be talking about the next chemo. That must have been the six to 12 months because I was back in June. So my head, I was saying, oh, my God, next year will be my wedding. There's no way he's not going to be here for my wedding.
So anyway, we kind of just particles, you know, yourself, you just you know, you never want to believe the worst. You kind of want to always believe the bad. So I thought, OK, I must have gotten it wrong. We just left it. But then from from then on from June, he just deteriorated quite quickly. And so we were in an instance all summer, really. And then mikovits, an extra layer of complexity that was horrific.
That's something I can imagine that just adds an extra layer of dread.
So we covered in stuff. How did the visiting your dad's and how did his treatment or any of that change?
So he went in. I think he was in and out about four times to the hospital between June and then September and the first two times we were just down to the lobby. So he was able to get down then and you could come and see us for an hour. We all had to wear masks. So it wasn't really the same as being in the room and staying all day. And there was certain visiting hours, things like that. And then when covid really kicked off again and he was transferred down to the use of the high dependency unit, so we couldn't see him at all and we couldn't, that was the most frustrating part.
There was no information being provided either. So, you know, a day felt like a year because we didn't know what was happening with them and we couldn't talk and either and no one was obviously the hospitals are inundated, but we were trying to call them every hour of the day and we just weren't getting anywhere with it. So it was really difficult. And then the last 10 days, it was palliative care. So we were out of into the room with just me and my four sisters and my mom.
How did your philosophy change from when you had that phone call in June to what it was like before?
So before then? I think I had always been predicting the worst, maybe. I always thought of this day is going to go on. This day is going to come. And then when it finally came, I didn't do it all. What I thought I was going to do, what I would do with it head on and be really strong. But I just completely lost a lot of myself. I was in total denial. And then that whole role reversal I find really difficult because your parents look after you your whole life and then all of a sudden it's the role reversal and you have to look after them and you have to see them kind of not able to feed themselves or not do little things like that.
And what I find really difficult as well, I don't know how anyone else feels the same, but at the very end when you kind of couldn't even eat or that was so hard to see. But then I felt guilty at some level for being able to eat, which is crazy because I know I'm a smart, logical, rational girl. But all logic goes out the window. I think you're in shock, aren't you?
And you you're almost feel like how and why is this happening to me?
Yeah, it's it's traumatic.
Do you feel quite lucky that you had that time with your dad, that there was enough time for you to say goodbye? Did you say goodbye? Do you get everything off your chest? I often wondered if you're given an allocation amount of time. Is that time enough? Does that help with the grieving?
But my personal experience, I think it's really helped me because I have no regrets whatsoever. I mean, my mom often say that to each other. Our house is just always filled with laughter and love. And then in those last couple of months time is everything. The time that I spent with my dad in those months, even just little things like remember the movie we watched? I just remember every detail of that movie. And at the end of it, we were both crying or playing Somewhere Over the Rainbow.
And it helped me a lot to be able to be so involved in his care, to be able to spend so much time with him and then to say goodbye in the end, because, of course, you'll never get full closure when you lose a parent yourself. But I think it did help me. Do you remember those days now, thinking back the first second of September, then leading up to the third, are those emotions are they quite real for you?
Well, it was just it was so shocking. And I think that's locked right now. Where I am in my stage of grief, I have definitely blocked it. But because I look back on it and I think, well, that wasn't me. And so I don't feel those emotions. And I was strong at the gate because I was getting had two really bad panic attacks. Have you ever had a panic attack before? No, no, never.
Thankfully, it's horrific. Two of those which were just really awful leading up to the third. And then obviously on the third, that was just the worst day of our life. And it is just so much the right way. It is adrenaline.
I don't know if you felt the shock and maybe the shock sometimes. And adrenaline is a good thing.
I think it can be. Yeah, it can be a good thing. That's defined in a way because you didn't have to see your self at all. Is that some sort of comfort? One hundred percent.
I've spoken to so many people from doing this podcast that I've met made.
Also, my family made me realize that there's no way I'd want our mom to suffer for an hour, for a day, and I feel bad saying that considering your story and what you're going through, there was no suffering.
She went to bed because I think that was definitely, without doubt, the hardest for me was seeing him suffer like hands down for how I feel now or anything else. That was that was the worst part of it so far. Anyway, it was seeing what he had to go through, and that was tough.
You said that your dad was not afraid of dying, which I think for anyone who was terminally ill in that situation, it's incredibly brave not to have fear. Do you think he realized coming up to it how serious it was?
It's funny because me and mom often talk about this amongst ourselves and we can't come up with an answer because we don't know. And he's not here to ask. And I personally, my take and I think maybe deep down he did know and towards the end, anyway, when he was just so positive in the face of it all, he kept talking about, well, when I get out of here, we're going to do this. We're going to do that.
And all he wanted was to get home. But with the covid and everything else, we just it wasn't feasible. So we kept telling them, yet you're coming home. And he never did get to come home.
You must be so angry, you know, for sense. If it hadn't been for covid, your father could have been allowed home. It would you know, he could have passed at home, you know, potentially in in in his own bed.
Have you got your head around? That starts to really piss you off.
That still annoys me a lot. I think just the whole dealings with it, I think is a mistake for quite a while. Not very sick man. If nobody knew he was sick because he was life and soul of any party was that he also loved a party like that man if he just loved life. So nobody knew that he was sick. So in those last couple of months, so many people were so shocked because he had been so well.
But I just find the transitions of care and the communication between the different doctors and the lack of information. That was really frustrating for me. I was coming in and saying, why aren't we trying this and why are we doing that? Not that I'm saying I know better than doctors because I don't. But I would have appreciated if someone had humored me and said, oh, well, this is why we're choosing this one or set out. We had a conversation and said, well, your dad's doing this because of X or doing that because of Y, but nobody would talk to me about it.
Or I even remember at the start, this was only back last May. There was a choice between two different chemotherapies and they went with one. And then the day before they decided to change it to another one. I don't know why, but dad was supposed to have these dexamethasone, steroid tablets, which he didn't have. So I had to run into the village and try and find a pharmacy that would give me the steroid tablets for prescriptions, which is I find the whole care side of the hospital and everything.
Yeah, that was that made me angry. And I'm still probably a bit angry sometimes.
So it's all part of it, isn't it, that maybe if you want angry.
Maybe the anger is helping you, is what I'm saying, maybe these feelings you have now are helping you get to the place you're supposed to get to wherever and whenever that is.
I also think it helps in the sense that I would never want somebody else to feel the way that I'm feeling in terms of communication. For me, neither so important people need to understand, especially working as a health care professional. You want people to be reassured. You want people to be. You need to show empathy. I think the palliative care team were incredible in St. Vincent. They really were. I couldn't talk with them highly enough, but it just taught me about the whole experience of.
Do you still remember those last moments with your father? Yes. And it was so they told us because obviously they know when the end is coming because breathing and. Pat, nice, similar to that hospital, and I think it was about 10 nights, she just didn't go home at all. She was like she did not leave that room, which was incredible. And so, I mean, my little sister stayed at home in their bed. And then we go in at seven a.m. I do my lectures all day and then we leave at 9:00 at night.
So we were there with her as well. But she slept on the chair in the room. And then on the last night, the really lovely nurse said to us, look, I think he's holding on because you can hear all of you here. And my sister is kind of saying or we talk to them, we couldn't respond at this stage. So she said, if you you girls go off together with Daddy, wanted to be with mom in the end.
And so, in fact, my older sister, we had a pizza and my younger sister, I said, I don't feel right about leaving Mom there. I just want to go back and check on her. So we drove back and been gone for an hour. Max, you're in the car park. And then mom just texted me saying it's just gone. Just me and my sister.
Right. Oh, that suggests, you know what, the thing that gets me, you know, is the fact that. You know, he wants to be with his wife. Yeah, and he didn't want you guys at all to be to be suffering or to see that now.
And that is that's that's my dad to city. And even in his dad is able to be gentlemen gentleman. And he wanted to be with his soul mate. Yeah. Yeah. You know, I'm getting so emotional today.
I think I think doing these episodes, having effect on me as well.
But but let me tell you, it's like from doing them, you know, and also we records out of sync with different episodes. So I've been recording them now for a few weeks. And this season I've been going home and saying to Arthur, I've been finding this season quite heavy on myself with I think it's because I can't do anything else but go home. There's no really other outlet, you know, in hearing everyone's stories. And I say to Arthur, people are way braver than what I am like to go through.
What everyone goes through is unbelievable. And the fact that.
You still get up and try and live your life, you still get up and try and do your thing. Have you found yourself that you're way more resilient than you thought you were?
Definitely. I think I was so close to my time that we had just the most incredible relationship. And I know now that he's walking down and being like, I'm so proud of you. And that he would want me to do this, he would want me to live my life, not to be. Of course I'm going to have days or weeks where I don't feel like getting off to bed. And if I don't, then that's what I do.
But 90 percent of the time, the reason that I feel so positive is that I'm going to live each day to the best that I can is because of him. I thought that's never going to change just because he's not physically here and he's always going to be with me. That's just what I mean.
When you go back to the hospital and they told you sadly, your dad had passed away, were you at all angry that you want with them or did you find complete solace in the fact he wanted to pass with your mom?
Oh, not at all. We were actually it's so weird saying this whole body of mind, but you're in the car. And we kind of I think we smiled at each other because it's like everybody's parents are so in love. But my parents were just glued at the hip. They were made to be together. I remember reading off and mom just popped to the shops. And I think it really makes your mom like they were just so they never spent a night apart.
They were you know, their love was just so infectious. Anyone that was in their company would know what I'm talking about. Bush, I think my sisters and I were really happy this month arms, because that was his wish and he got his wish. How was your mom? Oh, she is a superstar like she she really is. She's kind of the glue that holds me together anyway. Like, she's just definitely my best friend. I'm so proud of her.
I was so worried because, I mean, how did you get so bad after losing your soulmate? Had you put one foot in front of the other? But she's managed to get a job. She's like she's just she's so incredible. And like, obviously, this is so tough on her. And me leaving to come to Australia was one of the hardest decisions I ever had to make. I didn't know if I could meet her. But in hindsight now, what Dad I think would have wanted, because we both get our bit of independence and my little sister Ali is still there with her at home, but she's doing OK day by day.
And she talks and we talk together. We face time every day. We talk about dad all the time. And that helps.
And I think what you said there's a good word is the independence that you you both still need to live your lives.
Yeah. Something that because you kind of want to just wrap them in bubble wrap. I know. I think for me, I always just want to look after Mom and make sure Mom's OK where I have my younger sister, who, in a weird way, is like an older sister. Yeah, yeah.
Our younger sister Tara is only twenty eight, but I think like she's the same age as me and I'm obviously twenty nine so.
Yeah. And so guitarra kind of look after you.
Tara did like all my sisters and the others were so proactive when it came to the funeral and the songs and organizing everything and the Wakan that were just so honored I just had to hold my shit together and just actually my job was not to lose it. You know, you're so in the early stages where three years so just recently.
So we can look back and laugh on those situations when I said no and lock the bedroom door, you're not coming and fuck off, I don't care.
But like Brian, there are people I don't care. I'm staying in bed and that they kept the guard in the window. So like, it's those situations that the time that you're thinking our family is falling apart and I am going mad, Will, you're not going mad. But now we laugh at the fact my sisters are banging on the windows because it's lunacy.
You're dealing with an emotion and a shock that you never thought would happen now.
And you believe that your mom still kind of sends you signs now, even for your own.
See, it's so strange. I was never sure about signs, but certain stuff has happened and stuff that I've seen, whether it be a constant Robin that will always appear on, come super close to me. A butterfly has been in our home, I'm going to say, for a month since we moved in the same butterfly, the butterfly passed away and I was talking to it like it was a family member and I was going, Oh, my little butterfly.
And I had it in my hands because everyone said it could be a memory or a spiritual sense from heaven. In a way, I do believe in signs. Do you?
Yeah, I do. And I think I always have, like, I be quite superstitious even in terms of like for my exams and stuff. I always have. I have this weird Poppit that I've had forever, and I lost it before one of my exams and I absolutely lost my mark. That's not freaky at all.
You have a pet, poppets. What's our name? Judy. John began with Jay anyway.
So we do. I've always believed, like, little weird science and things like that. But recently, even since Dad died, I always think that he's sending me things like I had a really bad nightmare because I kind of replay the hospital nearly every night to sleep. It's just a constant real in my head at the moment. But I had a particularly bad nightmare the other night. And then I woke up to a message sorry, five or six messages from one of his best friends.
He would never message me before, but it was just loads of pictures and videos of him singing and laughing and dancing. And I just thought, God, if that's not a sign. And then that night I didn't have a nightmare. So little things like that. I do believe that it's him in a way, trying to tell me that he's OK. Talk me through. John the puppet. Did you find him? We don't want to go.
Yeah. Yeah, we did find him. I'm open to losing things, but I have him now able to think like them.
Yeah. It's so funny how there must be no reason as to why your father's best friend message you. How would he have known you were having nightmares? And for you to get those messages and pictures you must find such great. So, Alison, I suppose it's faith, hope are they're the correct words. Yes, a comfort based like I think dad was quite anytime we go on holidays, one of the first things we do is go to the church, say a little prayer.
We went to New York every summer with my gran and me and dad used to go up and do this kind of pilgrimage to Looch. It was a little town, a gorgeous little church. And when we go up and say our prayers, so I think I got that side of him from him as well. And because it gave him a lot of comfort. And so, you know, any time I'm passing a church on the way in and light a candle and say a few words, I think that's a very Irish thing.
Yeah. Yeah. So that's something that we all do to. Talk me through a covered funeral. Your father has passed away, how was all of that for your family?
So I have four sisters and then obviously my mom's and I think the funeral, I was only allowed to be twenty five, but I don't know about you, but the actual funeral date, I don't remember it at all, which is so strange because I spoke I don't remember being up there with only five five months ago and I remember. One of the greatest things, actually, which I do remember, was all the neighbors stood outside their houses when first I just thought that was a sign of respect that you really would have.
But, you know, if it was a normal funeral, they all would have been at it with his work colleagues and even a lot of his friends get this friends that were I remember they came to our house one night and they were all in their 30s. My dad was in the 60s. Who are these guys? What are they doing in. That's when I was actually one of the guys who texted me the other day. And it's just such a testament to he was like he was friends with everybody.
But the funeral was strange because you're only like twenty five people there and people don't know whether to be hugging you or kissing you. And that was hard as well. And so was Daphne. All funerals are difficult, but I do think that the layer of complexity, the Koven had made it more difficult. Did you find at the funeral?
Because my sisters and I, we laughed a lot at mom's wake. I will remember those moments. I'll take them to my grave because they were so special and reminiscing about mom and even stories. I didn't know there was something quite nice about all of that. Not so much the funeral, but just those days and hours we had as a family, but with no one else. Just us.
Yeah, we had a bit of that too, that dad loved singing and I am tone deaf, so I certainly didn't sing, but my sister and how they were singing a lot. And that's something that I remember. And as I said, I've kind of blocked that side of it out of my mind that I can't really remember it too much.
It's because it's still so raw for you. And who's to say in a year or two years or then again, just you may never fully remember.
Are you religious? Was your father religious?
Yes, I would have been religious. He was then and will be very proud of you all. The mom was there and she loved kind of you didn't go to church every Sunday, but he definitely had a strong faith. And then my religious I definitely believe in something and but I wouldn't say I'm an avid. Yes, bit like a bit.
Yeah. Do I go to church? No. Communion christening confirmations. Of course. Weddings, you know, but I think we all have to find our own religion and maybe our own faith and whatever we believe that is.
Yeah. Like I like to believe that there's an afterlife and I like not not so much an afterlife, but that there are peace somewhere with us or wherever it is that they're happy and not suffering.
If you were to think of any place that you think your father would be. Yeah, but what would he be doing? Do you know where that place to be?
He would be in our favorite restaurant in New York. I would say having a glass of bubbles with my granny for sure.
I wouldn't mind putting in there for a glass of bubbles. I'd go anywhere. Right now.
I love New York. Oh, yeah. That's where I got engaged. I love that city. It's beautiful, beautiful.
And I can't wait to board a flight again and be pushed around in Times Square. One of the things I used to hate was anyone pushing and down.
Like push me. Yeah. So push me. I know I'm coming home in May, which is not only up to four months last year. Are you coming home full time? And me. Yeah, because I have to finish my pharmacy degree, so we just have to do my placement so I have to defer. Thus they'll start that in June.
But I need to quarantine because you're away somewhere because after we lost Mom I moved to Los Angeles so far away, bit like you, different time zone, the whole lot. Do you think in a way that that's helped when you put everything on pause and that when you return home you're almost living it and feeling it a bit more?
That's what I'm very apprehensive about, because I think here I'm kind of in this like, warped reality, like I'm so used to my routines at home, whereas over here it's an experience I've never had before and I'm not see, I find it really hard to see my friends for some reason because I could just see in their eyes how upset they were for me. And that made me upset. And because even I remember meeting my friend straight after dad died and I just couldn't stop myself from crying and even subsequently seeing them, it just upset me so much.
I don't know why that is. But over here, it's people I've never met. So when I took my dad, I talked so openly and freely about it and I don't get upset. And so hopefully when I come home, I don't completely convulse. But it is a fear that I have.
It's a completely both are we watch your kids.
I don't you know, but at least you are finding the humor in that.
And I think that's amazing. Yeah. Yeah.
I love the way you go to grit your teeth. I'm trying, Brian.
I say, listen, I always say I think if I don't laugh, I'll cry. And I think we have I think those Irish are quite good at finding humor in everything, and for me, humor has helped me on this journey. You had said to me, do I believe in signs? And I said to you, yes, stuff it happens. We talked about your dad's best friend when you a nightmare said in you those pictures your father used to call you Jesse and I seen on your story recently.
Was that a restaurant or a bar? Tell us about that.
So strange. So we've been hearing that we don't know. This is the third place that we're in. So it's our final phase. We were always going to settle here and come here, but I didn't know that the cafe literally downstairs is called a strange. And so it's just a little cafe that does breakfast lunch and they do takeaway dinners and they you've really got coffee. So I go there every morning with my coffee. And in a strange way, I feel some sort of connection to them there.
You know, it's right on the beach front of all the places. You could have stayed in a cafe downstairs. And I didn't cry. I just smile just like any time I see. It doesn't bring me sadness. It brings me happiness.
Yeah. Because it could have went really either way for you. You could have been so tricker that you'd walk by going, I don't want to go in, but you find such love and life that way.
Earlier in the conversation you asked me if I if I ever had a panic attack. Talk us through that for you.
I think I've always kind of taken so much on myself and my parents always saying, oh, for God's sake, would you just slow down, sit down and just sit over there. And so I was trying to navigate what was happening with Dad and try and calm everything up. And I never kind of made sure that I was OK with myself or I didn't talk to anybody about it. And when he was sick, I would just say, as I said, when you ask me, how am I, I'm fine.
So that was just my default. I'm fine. I'm fine, I'm fine. But I really wasn't fine. And then I remember one day I went home. I don't even know what the trigger was. I was just so exhausted because I hadn't slept in weeks and time. I did sleep would be broken, would be for ten minutes. And then I think you're only going to get a texta. So I think it's just pure exhaustion. It's fear, anxiety.
And your whole body just caved in. In your mind, you really feel that you're about to die. And it's just it's the scariest feeling. So overpowering. You just try to control your breath and do so.
When you got the second one, did you know because you had one already that it was on the way? He kind of got a bit of an aura like your heart starts beating so you get physical symptoms as well. So I could feel my heart was racing and my breathing was getting really, really deep and he kind of just got paralyzed. It's like it's the strangest thing to have happen to you, but I hope it never happens again. But I know it's because I was sober and I was not talking to anyone, not looking after myself.
And so hopefully all this now, you know, if it's you're going to get a third one, you kind of know what to do to alleviate the situation, to make it better.
Did I read somewhere that you had to cancel your wedding? Was it because of covid? If there was a few, so we were due to get married, June coming, so June 20, 20, and we were going to push it forward to November when we got the news if I died in the same venue. But then obviously dad passed away. So we canceled both dates. And we're over here now anyway, so we couldn't have got married in June.
That is a fabulous I mean, I'm all about the bling, but yours is beautiful. What color is that? It looks like the Princess Diana. I just watch the crown recently and that looks like the color of that is. What color is that?
Yes, it's a sapphire. So it's a blue sapphire. Oh, she's showing it to me, to the camera.
And I'm like, I want one of them. Are you? And this is probably a difficult question. What's your process with that? With the fact your your father won't be able to walk you down the aisle?
So the biggest thing for me with the wedding was that everything centered around dad. I wanted him. We went down to the wedding venue, me, my younger sister and my mom and dad. And we had the best weekend of our lives. We drank too much champagne and had delicious food. And it was just it was one of the best weekends we've ever had. I'm so grateful that we got to do that. And then even with my dress, my wedding dress, I tried when I packed up the one and I said, yep, that's the one.
I'm so nice where I am with. This is again, it's just not OK for me because for me, all I wanted was for him to walk down the aisle so that I can't do this. And selfishly, I don't want to do that yet either. I don't know when I will be ready to, but it's not something I know everything.
When you get married, when you get married and including my fiance, he's like, can you give me a date or of them?
But no, I think just where I am now, I wouldn't be happy myself to get married in the month. So I'll see how I'm feeling when I get back to Ireland once you're finished in here. And of course, I can't wait to have my wedding day, but when I'm feeling a bit more like I can do that right now, I definitely couldn't.
Do you think the passing of your father has changed you at all as a person in a good way or bad way? I think it has I think dad's exerted that positive influence on me that I probably took a bit for granted little things that we all take for granted being in a straw of whatever it is like now. I just get so worked up about such little things and I see a greater picture and it's definitely changed me. I just can't slow down.
That was a big lesson I learned because I was learning so much and. To kind of seize the day and make the most of every opportunity like coming over here. I was very close to not making the decision. I was just gonna stay home and get on with my life back in Ireland. But life is so short. If I've learned anything, that's the one thing that I know. Nothing is guaranteed. So I definitely want to try and make the most of what time I do have here.
Anyone that will be listening to this episode that has just recently lost someone, I think you could say to them.
Give yourself time to be patient with yourself. Reach out to your friends, your family, and don't feel guilty for the feelings that you have. And guilt might be one of those feelings that I don't know. Evan's journey is so different, but you just have to be really patient and gentle with yourself.
Since you had posted this on Instagram and this is part of what you actually wrote, I promise to always keep making you proud that we may never see you, but we'll never be apart. God has you in his arms, but we'll always have you in our heart. Rest in peace. Our beautiful daddy. I love you. I thought that was so beautiful and so powerful because there was something quite safe about it that he's safe. He's content. That's what I like to believe myself.
That brings me. Versions of the reassurance that he is safe and sound and will be with them just read all the way from Australia, even though I'm slightly annoyed we're here.
And as I look out our window, it's starting to snow.
No, it's not really. It really is.
Thank you so much for having this conversation, especially in a different country. And another times I would just read and thank you so much. Thank you, Brian.
Thanks so much for having me on. The first year after losing a loved one can be the hardest.
The first birthday, the first Christmas and the first anniversary without them can be heartbreaking, just still very much processing her grief and has used these key moments to remember her highlights with her father and share the love he showed her with the world. Our episode goes out this week as Jess just celebrated her dad's birthday with a beautiful poem on Instagram. You'll always be my first love and my hero, she writes. Next week on deck becomes him, I sit down with Kathy Strich, Kathy talks to me about the tragic passing of her sister Elaine and her brother in law, PA PA suffered a fatal fall as his wife, Elaine, battled cancer.
My whole family shifted to the dynamic because now my parents, in a way, I lost my parents, too, in a way, because they are now the parents of my nephews. So they left their house there. And then they did an unbelievable thing that they left their house that very day and never went back and moved into her house. And, you know, they should be retired. And, you know, my dad's a photo the other day and he's making a snowman.