Having recently returned from a visit to the UK, where I spent time with my grandparents, I found myself grappling with emotions I am unaccustomed to. It was a trip filled with an underlying sense of impending loss. Seeing my grandad in so much pain and the realisation that this might be the last time I would see him alive weighed heavily on me, a burden too painful to put into words.
My grandad, a strong and resilient man, and until recently in excellent health despite his advanced years, is fighting a losing battle with asbestos-induced lung cancer, with months remaining at most. The cancer is not curable at his age, and he survives on medication, the pain a constant barrage clearly visible in his face.
My middle son accompanied me, adding to the emotional complexity of the visit. The idea of displaying grief in front of him was difficult for me to accept; he's too young to understand what was happening, and I didn't want to burden him with my grief. As such, I bottled it all away inside and put on a happy face for the trip.
Similarly, the return journey was quiet, my mind filled with memories and my heart heavy with unexpressed emotions. It felt as if the feelings were under immense pressure inside me, needing release but trapped by my inability to let them flow just yet — it's hard to find a waking moment alone with three young boys and jetlag.
Under normal circumstances, I'm unable to cry. Whether it's my upbringing or just my nature, tears seem to be locked away, inaccessible even in the most trying times. The evening after our return, I stumbled upon a solution quite unexpectedly. I decided to finish watching the "Guardians of the Galaxy 3" — I had watched the first half some time ago and never got around to finishing it. My intention was really to seek a temporary escape from the overwhelming emotions that had built up.
As I sat in the darkened room, engrossed in the movie, something remarkable happened. (Spoiler) A scene where an important character seems to die resonated with the grief and loss I was feeling. The floodgates opened, and everything came out. Tears flowed freely, an outpouring of emotions I hadn't thought possible.
At first, it was a shock, but as the tears continued to flow, a sense of relief started to take over. I was finally allowing myself to grieve, acknowledge the pain, and begin the process of acceptance.
I'm not suggesting that watching a movie can replace professional therapy or that it can resolve deeply rooted emotional challenges. But for me, on that particular day, it acted as a conduit, enabling me to connect with feelings that had been suppressed and unacknowledged thus far.
This experience has taught me the importance of finding ways to process grief and loss, even when traditional expressions of emotions might seem inaccessible. It's a personal journey, one that requires understanding, patience, and, sometimes, unexpected paths to healing.
The time with my grandad, the memories we created, and the lessons I've learned will stay with me forever. Life's complexities often require unconventional solutions, and in my case, a cinematic escape provided a way to begin the process of saying goodbye.
In its own way, this article is a continuation of that process, an acknowledgement and a preserved point in time that will live on in my blog. I also strongly support the movement of men publicly talking more about mental health and emotions, normalising it and hopefully making it easier for men in emotional distress to seek help if they need it.
I will miss you, grandad.