Addiction, Health, Behaviour Change | CGL

Alcohol Awareness Week - my story

child and dad

Alcohol Awareness Week - my story

21 November 2018

This week is Alcohol Awareness Week, with the theme of change, so it feels appropriate for me to talk a little more openly about the biggest change in my life that has been caused by alcohol – the loss of my Dad. Acute alcohol toxicity is a fancy way of saying alcohol poisoning – that’s what it said on his death certificate when the inquest finally came back with a cause of death. My story is just one of many that feed into the statistics on alcohol-related deaths, and my story is sadly not an uncommon one.

When we talk about alcohol and change, so much focus is placed on a person’s individual need to change their relationship with alcohol as opposed to the change that alcohol can cause in your life – even if this isn’t your own alcohol use. This is why I decided to share this – I think it’s important we highlight all the links between alcohol and change to paint a fuller picture of the impacts and remind us that every statistic is a human with friends and family who love them, dreams and plans for the future.

For me, my life will never be the same. This week so many incredible organisations are sharing tips for changing your drinking habits – swap to soft drinks, reduce days that you drink – but that isn’t always an easy thing to do, so I hope by sharing the hardest words I’ve ever had to write, someone will realise that maybe it is worth the extra effort. Change Grow Live has a special place in my heart, having helped my Dad through some of the harder times and having helped me to grow through my own pain by giving me the chance to volunteer in one of their services. I’m hoping that this will help someone else to reach out and ask for help. 

What follows is the eulogy I wrote for my father’s funeral – at 2am, on the day that I’d be reading it. I have spent the last four years feeling guilty for it not being good enough, but when I found the hand-scrawled notes in a box last week I was surprised – nothing would ever do him justice, but I think I did OK. 

‘For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Vic’s daughter. Thank you all for being here today. As sad as it is, I’m glad I get to finally put faces to the names I’ve heard over the years.

My dad lived in many places, leading many small lives within one. I don’t know all the versions of him, and I understand that he has filled many roles within each of our lives and created different memories for each person.

In my eyes though, he was my dad. Slightly unconventional in his parenting, he also became my best friend, and I am incredibly grateful for that. He was an amazing person who forever tried to help everyone around him, as many of you will hopefully know. He tried to help me to understand him, always being as honest as he could with me about anything and everything.

My dad took me to an AA Meeting once, on Christmas Eve & I was so annoyed that he was – in my eyes anyway, I was only about 10 years old – trying to ruin our nice Christmas. But that was when I first realised how much he cared for me, hearing him speak in that room opened up my eyes and made me see how beautiful he really was.

He never wanted me to be angry with him, right from the start he was nervous that I’d dislike the things he did – fretting about whether or not I’d like the Barbie duvet he’d bought for my first weekend at his. I don’t even remember that duvet, because that weekend we spent ages turning his clothes horse into a tent for me to sleep under and that was the most exciting thing.

Without him to guide me I’d be a completely different person now. He taught me to be caring and compassionate, but also to be strong. He had endless good parts that would always outweigh any negatives. I could call him up at any time no matter what and he would always leave me laughing.

My dad never stopped trying to be a better person, and this is something I’ll never forget. He really tried in everything he did. He tried to teach himself simultaneous equations last year because I had to write an essay about them and I felt like I was drowning.

I used to laugh about his constant wearing only green and brown, saying he reminded me of Radagast from the hobbit, and then when the movie came out I laughed even more. The image was spot on. He loved being outside, always dragging me camping until I loved it too. There are too many stupid memories of us in campsites, but again the main thing was how much he always made me laugh… Even if it was just out of total embarrassment at him singing loudly.

I feel like I’m rambling, I don’t have his way with words. I can’t compose poetry or songs in a few seconds and I can’t always say the right thing.

I will always remember my dad as the man who wanted to live outside. His love for animals will live on, whenever I see a buzzard I’ll smile, if I see someone fishing I’ll stop and say hello, and when I find myself wandering around charity shops I’ll pick up those odd looking fantasy books in the hope that I’ll be escaping into a world that he was once in.

My dad was more than a father to me, and hopefully his love, strength and care for others can be continued through us all. All we can hope now is that he is free to do as he pleases, and that he’ll visit us in our dreams now and then.’


photos of a man and family