family, Personal
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Loss

My dad PERNOD RICARD AWARD Best Sports photography 1971

My dad PERNOD RICARD AWARD Best Sports photography 1971It is with a very heavy heart that I have to inform you of what has been happening in our family lately…

Last Saturday started like a beautiful weekend…Steve went off to Cardiff to watch the All Blacks beat the hell out of the French and Mila and I went to stay with some friends. Besides the fact that Mila left the car key in the boot of the car which locked itself with all our belongings for the weekend in it and I spent the afternoon trying to work out the best plan to get hold of the second set of keys we had at home, it was a nice afternoon. We decided to take the kids to the skatepark and enjoy ourselves. At 5pm, my mum called me and told me that my dad had taken his own life.

In the past three years, my dad has been struggling with depression. This has been a tough journey for our family and one that I never mentioned on the blog. I mentioned my own depression here and here and ways that helped me to keep it at bay but I’m also from a different generation. A generation that doesn’t feel ashamed from being hit by it, one that never thought it was a sign of weakness because I know that if there is one thing I’m not, it’s weak. A generation that talks about it and the truth to be told, being able to talk to Steve and Mila openly about it, helped me to recover quickly.

My dad was from a different generation. The one that believes that only mad people with major psychiatric problems suffer from it. One that makes you believe you are less of a man, the one that makes you feel so ashamed that you can’t talk to the people close to you or those who would be able to help to you so for three years, my dad went down, little by little. He stopped eating, getting up, living. He stopped connecting with us. He looked like death, he was so weak and skinny, it was awful to watch.

Last Summer I lost it and kicked him out of his bedroom to open the windows wide, change his sheets, get him to walk, to do something. We had a massive argument, he told me to go to hell and then he went back to bed. On Father’s Day, he looked so weak, he could hardly stand on his legs. It was heart-breaking.

In the last few months, he had finally started to come out of this long and deep depression.

He had started eating again. He was walking two or three times a day. He was interacting with us, he was making plans like going to Paris to see Elodie or taking the boat out. He was planning ahead to attend his friend’s birthday. Some days, he still looked completely spaced out or was going on about all the friends he had lost to death but compared to the last three years in bed not eating, it was a massive improvement. and then this…

The Psychiatrist said he saw the Everest…In a moment of lucidity, he realised that he had gone down so low that he would take him years to be the man he was again and gave up. He gave up on life, on fighting.

My dad, our dad…was an amazing human being, so passionate about life. He lived and breathed rugby. He was a solar person, one that attracts people. He was very social. Compared to my mum who keeps to herself, my dad loved having people around. Each time, we organised big BBQs & parties with all our friends, both our parents joined in and he would stay up late talking about rugby, politics, authors, American movie, society, music. He used to listen to JJ Cole, Clapton, John Lee Hooker, Nina Simone, Mano Solo (which I found incredibly depressing) so flipping loud, it was driving us nuts and now he is gone…

It has been 5 days now. We told Mila and Lily this morning which wasn’t easy and it is not over. The amount of decisions we have to make as a family, in a very short time on things that really we don’t give a shit because nothing matters, nothing compares to the loss we are feeling, is draining.

And then we had to call people, his family, his friends, our friends and feel everyone’s loss and pain again. I did the first round to announce the news. François took mum to the funerals company to sort out the details, Elodie did the second round to inform everybody of the details of the ceremony. He had so many friends since he started playing rugby as a kid…

As a family, I think we all made peace with his decision. We understand the pain he must have been feeling. Elodie regrets that he didn’t tell her us but I think none of us would have been ready to hear him saying goodbye, to let him go. In fact, he probably told us many times it was too hard for him but we are fighters in our family, we don’t give up on things easily and we didn’t want him to give up but then again, we were not in his shoes. Throughout his life, he fought for many things but this one, was a hell of a battle and having gone through the depth and darkness of mild depression, I get a glimpse of what it must have been for him days in days out for three years…not a couple of months, three years with no improvement or very little, added to the fact that he was suffering from Behçet, a rare illness that sometimes gave him not just one mouth ulcer but twenty at once and so much pain.

I want to remember of my dad for who he was, not the person he was these past three years but the person he was his whole life. A kind, loving father, someone who was incredibly passionate about a lot of things and a great grand-dad.

I’ve no intention of turning this blog into some rambling, emotional online diary but I’ve always used the blog and writing to process my thoughts, draw experience, find a positive spin on things and help others so I just wanted you to know what’s going on in my life because right now, I find no point in writing about interior design or fashion. I actually don’t give a damn. This week has been like a time capsule when I had little awareness of what day it was exactly. Now that the girls know about it, it’s a bit easier…we can try to focus on the good memories. I’m pretty sure it will hit me properly next week once we’ve gone through the motions of organising everything.

Thanks for everything and thanks to all my friends who already know and have been there for me.

 

55 Comments

  1. I’m so sorry to hear this Karine, sending you positive thoughts and wishes for you and your family at this sad time.

  2. Manuela says

    I feel very sorry for you and your family.
    Depression is an underestimated desease, in my opinion.
    Manuela

  3. Engracia says

    Karine, I’m so sorry for your loss & my thoughts are with you and your entire family. Lots of love
    Engraciaxx

  4. Quelle triste nouvelle …❤️et beaucoup de force pour les jours et semaines et même annee qui viendront.

  5. So very sorry. Thank you for sharing. Although so painful for you and your family it will be a great comfort for many hearing you talk so openly and maybe. Love and best wishes x

  6. barbara says

    Désolée d’entendre cette triste nouvelle. Je vous souhaite beaucoup de douceur, de chaleur familiale pour vous aider à surmonter la douleur. Merci pour ce partage plein de vie!

  7. Kate @ M is for make says

    So sorry to hear your news, what an awful life changing week. The only good advice I was given when my dad died suddenly was to take a day at a time, try not to fret the future too much. Sending you lots of love and strength x

  8. Lorraine Nugent says

    So very sorry to hear of you loss. Thoughts are with you and your family at this very sad time.x

  9. So sorry to hear. I lost my dad many years ago under different circumstances but regardless of the way they leave us it’s still a great loss and a lot of different emotions will appear over days, weeks, months and even years to follow. Just go with it and look after yourself and your family. There is no right or wrong way.
    Big hug x

  10. I’m so sorry to hear this news. The loss of a Parent is something we all face, but this is so much harder. It will take a long time For you and your family to process all this grief and please you must take that time. Sending lots of love to you and your family.
    Take care of yourself. xxx

  11. Carolyn says

    I’m so sorry to hear of the loss of your Dad. Sending you lots of love and strength xxx

  12. Louise Hannon says

    So very sad to read this and thinking of you and your family. Definite yes to a design blog that also is honest and recognises the hard stuff in life too. Thanks for posting this.

  13. Sorry for your loss <3

    Wanted to share a thought on depression and weakness written by a Finnish blogger (translation is mine). Depression is not about being too weak but about having to be too strong for too long.

  14. Karine,
    I am so very sorry for your loss. He is at peace with himself now and watching over all of you I am sure.
    Sending you love and hugs.
    Pippa xxxx

  15. Sam Page says

    Karine, my heart jumped when I read this and I can feel your pain, I am so very sorry and sad for your loss. It is a terrible illness (one I have leant to live with, getting a dog has helped me enormously) and robs so many of us of our loved ones too soon.
    Please take care of you and yours.
    Sx

  16. Emma Nunn says

    Dear Karine,
    I am so so sorry for the loss of your Dad. My thoughts are with you and your family. It’s so hard when you loose someone so close. I lost my dad to alcolism 4 years ago. Another mental health illness that people of a generation don’t ‘get’. Be kind to yourself at this difficult time.
    Emma x

  17. I am so sorry for your tremendous loss. I too often fight that battle. We put pretty faces on it and hide behind other things often just as Robin Williams did behind his humor. I am so very sorry for your entire family and all the pain you are facing. My God bess and keep you all!

    Prayers,
    Mary

  18. Serena says

    My thoughts are with you and your family in these hard times! I send you a very big and warm hug! <3

  19. Dear Karine,
    To read this pains me (I lost my dad too, 1 year ago) but I have to say you are- indeed – a strong woman and I truly wish you & your family all the strength in this painful time. Thank you for sharing this. Lots of love, Maureen

  20. So sad to hear this Karine. My heart goes out to you and your family. I think you are right to remember your Papa for who he was and that you draw strength from that. Take care lovely lady and find your peace, Xxx

  21. Sandra says

    From another reader fan….and from another who knows the power of the despair of depression first hand: my sincerest knowing silent HUG; for you, your siblings, your Mom, and the whole family.

  22. I am so sorry for your loss. An incredibly raw and painful post for you to write but writing is so important in hard times such as these. Take one day at a time and be kind to yourself, sending love and strength to you and yours.

  23. Maureen says

    Wish you strength to go on and as time goes by all those sweet memories will remain…

  24. I am so, so sorry. I cannot even begin to imagine what you are going through. Wishing you lots of strength & courage & remember the many, many good times you had with him. xx

  25. Lorna Bedi says

    What an awful shock for you as a family, and how brave to write, and so beautifully when you must all be feeling so raw. My mother committed sucicide when I was very young, as well a uncle, and the scar it leaves is not like any other, though I have been bereaved many times in my life. It is not something I dwell on, but I wanted to thank you for your article. I have asked myself why so many times. You gave me a bit more insight into the generation where depression was an even greater stigma than it is now. I do hope you have time to heal and kind people around you.

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  27. katrin says

    dear karine.
    im sooooo very very sorry about your loss.
    sending you and your family strength and light in this dark time.

    sending you much love&hugs from bern, switzerland

    katrin

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