Darwish was just nine, when his father, late HCA patient Faisal, passed on from cancer in 2019. The duo loved playing soccer together, a promise that could not be fulfilled as Faisal passed on before they could play together for the last time.
His mother, Zura, recalls the heartbreaking scene as they kissed Faisal for the final time, during the last rites. “I told him it was okay to cry and asked if he understood what was happening,” she shares. “At that moment, he started to cry a lot and said, ‘He promised to come back, he promised to play soccer with me.’.”
Stricken with grief, Darwish began withdrawing into himself and decided to quit soccer classes abruptly. “I tried to talk to him every day and asked him how he was, but he seemed angry all the time and kept saying, ‘nothing’ in response,” Zura says.
In subsequent counselling sessions, Darwish revealed that he had quit soccer because he was angry with his father for not returning home to play with him.
Mementoes to Hold Dear
To comfort him, Zura had a pillow custom made with a family photo printed on it, for Darwish to hold close whenever he longed for his father. The photo was taken on one of their last outings together as a family, on a glamping trip in East Coast Park, organised by HCA.
After Faisal’s passing, Zura printed this photo on a pillow for Darwish to hug whenever he missed his dad.
“In the four months plus between the diagnosis and his death, we really tried to make the best memories,” Zura shares. “We took a lot of photos together.”
Darwish, who is now 13, also finds comfort in wearing his late father’s favourite jacket. “It makes me feel like he is here with me right now,” Darwish says.
Also finding solace in a shared memory of love, is HCA Events Specialist Kai Ling. Like Darwish, she lost her father to cancer, at 12 years old. As a young child, Kai Ling fondly remembers offering mani- and pedicure services to her beloved father. Armed with a nail clipper, her little hands would deftly trim away at her father’s nails, while the latter watched television. To show his appreciation, Kai Ling’s father would reward her with coins from his drawer after.
As HCA Event Specialist, Kai Ling leads all of HCA’s signature events, including memorials, Star PALS Family Day and Family Foto Fair.
Few words were uttered between the duo during this simple routine, but the unspoken bond still brings comfort to Kai Ling, 20 years after her father’s passing.
Giving Voice to Grief
Grief is especially devastating when it strikes the most vulnerable among us – children. When a child’s grief is not addressed and left to fester, it can lead to long-term trauma and hinder their ability to cope.
For Darwish, the build-up of difficult emotions is akin to choking. “When you are sad, you just need to release it,” he says. “The more you hold back, the more tiring it will be.”
“It’s like you are choking while eating, so you just need to spit it out.”
As a child, Kai Ling was confused when her family stopped talking about her father after his passing. “Maybe my siblings stopped talking about him, so that they wouldn’t upset my mum,” she recalls. “I think nobody wants to trigger anybody.”
As time passed, and Kai Ling and her family moved forward with their lives, they were able to look at old photos and reminisce about memories of him.
“Actually, I would appreciate if people talked to me about my dad,” she shares. “At least I can tell them stories about my dad.”
© 2024 HCA Hospice. All Rights Reserved.