One of the hardest experiences of my life was getting the phone call informing me that my dad had passed. It happened to be on the day I’d had my 20 week scan during pregnancy and we’d just found out we were having a boy. Being our first child, my dad was ecstatic and couldn’t wait to be a grandfather. He had been diagnosed with cancer a year before but was responding well following surgery and several rounds of chemo.

With my parents being overseas, it made the blow far worse. I had not seen my parents in person in 3 years and could not be there in my mom’s darkest hour. She has been holding on in the hope of meeting her grandson this year and was due to come through in the next few months.

I remember feeling empty. Empty for the rest of my pregnancy, empty for the first few months of bubs’ life. The last conversation we’d had, he’d clearly said he would hold on until he walked on the beach with his grandchild. There was still hope and it had been stripped away without so much as a goodbye.

Fast forward almost 2 years, and I’ve now found out that my grandmother has skin cancer and in the same conversation, that my mother may also have cancer. Travel is nigh on impossible for us at the moment, and at this point the best case scenario for her is surgery and delays on all travel until she is clear. Speaking to her this week, I can hear her voice wavering, her hope slipping away.

While I hold onto the hope that her tumours are benign and that she can make it here, the sense of hope I’d held for my dad is not there. I’m bracing myself for worst and wish I could be more hopeful. My wish was for them to meet their little man, for him to be able to, at very least, have photos to remember them by. Yet now, I’m facing the distinct possibility of saying goodbye to the two matriarchs of my family in the same year.

That being said, if the worst happened, how would I say goodbye to her? With my dad there was no warning, no time to say goodbye. We knew it could happen any day, but it still came as a shock. Now, I’m left wanting to prepare for that phone call, the possible “last call”. Yet every time I think about it, I’m left cold and broken hearted, without so much a sentence to show for it.

How does one say goodbye? Or is it best to keep on hoping that there will always be another day?

Posted anonymously, 25th January 2016

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  • Thank you for being brave enough to share your story. I hope that you are making time to look after yourself as you work through this difficult time. I hope you can find some joy in the moments you do get to spend with your loved ones while you can.


  • I feel so sorry for you. My dad too passed away before I had a chance to see him. We are in different countries and I had not been to visit for quite a few years. He fell sick and it was only 2 or so months down the track when he passed. I had gone to pick up the air tickets on the day when the phone rang to say he had passed away. I was too late. I am grateful that we had talked on the phone before that day though. I hope you manage to get Skype working with you mum and grandma. It will be really good for all of you to be able to communicate somehow if you cannot be together in person.


  • I’m so sorry to read your story. It must have been so terrible to receive that phone call about your dad. It happened the same to me. My father died suddenly of heart attack and I didn’t have any chance to say goodbye.
    I do hope that both your mum and your grandma will fully recover. But meanwhile, use this time to tell them everything you want to tell them. Let them get to know your child. I think that what mum165081 said, is very sweet.
    It would be lovely of course if you could meet in person. Everything would be so much easier. But I can understand that that could be difficult. Use Skype to keep regularly in contact, thank them for what they did for you.. There is a “warning” now. Don’t miss the chance to open your heart to them. I hope they will both be with you for many many years.


  • you just have to get through. grief doesn’t ever go away but it evolves and you go through stages and the first is denial. i hate this part of life but talk to people and get support. show your mum that you love her and appreciate the life that she gave you. just hug her and do all her favourite things. just love her! i am sorry that you are going through this. it is really hard and everybody deals differently. the community of mums are here for you and i will be praying for you.


  • Your story is very touching and I’m typing this with tears in my eyes – tears for you and tears for my own loss. There is no easy way to deal with the loss of your parents. It has been over three years since I lost both my parents and it has become a little easier to deal with as time has gone by. I found that thinking of the good times we’d had together rather than focusing on the loss helped me to cope. If you cannot be with your mother, I would phone her regularly – tell her that you love her, talk about anything and everything. I also held out hope right up to the last day, and it helped in the long run. Take care, and stay strong.


  • Thank you for being brave enough to share your very personal story. It is one of the most difficult times in life. Get the support you need to manage your grief, there are many people that can help you at this time.


  • I’m so sorry you are going through this. It must be so difficult.
    My dad passed away suddenly. Now my mother in law is slowly dying from a brain tumour. I hope you have support and people you can talk to. sending hugs


  • It is really hard when family is far away, and even harder at times like these. As there is no way of travelling, you can do your best to remain realistic and philosophical. The conversations they have with you will be treasured always. Would it be possible for you to organise for your Mother and Grand Mother to record some messages via video, Skype (or similar) for your boy? These would always be treasured by him. It is no wonder you feel the way you do though. Try to stay strong.

    • Thank you for your kind words. We are currently trying to set up a Skype with them, it is challenging as my mom and grandparents live together in farmlands which have no internet access. I do have a wonderful friend who is planning on arranging everything for it from that side and am very grateful for her assistance.


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