Grandad's Hug : Building a connection with a lost loved one

This post has been sitting in my drafts for over a year now. It is very close to my heart, a little too close perhaps that I haven't wanted to let it go. However today marks the 6th anniversary of the day my Dad passed away and I feel like it is time to give it life. It's raw and unedited and it's not like the posts I normally write, but if it connects with just one of you, if someone feels like this idea could help them, then it will be worth it.

It has been almost 5 years now since my father passed away.

Those 5 years simultaneously feel as though they are a lifetime ago whilst also happening in a blink of an eye.

I sometimes find myself wondering where all that time has gone, or more so, how that time could have passed without having him in my life. But the answer to that question is simple, my life kept moving forward even though it felt like time stopped still.

In those 5 years I met my husband, got married and had my son.

Big events.

Big, happy events that were full of laughter and joy and celebration.

Big events that were missing just one thing...

My father never met my husband, he never gave his blessing, never heard that he was going to be a Grandad, never cuddled his grandchild or gazed into his eyes. He's never going to teach him what he knows, take him camping or even lead him astray as Grandad's often like to do.

Having my son has been the biggest blessing of my life, however every milestone, holiday and achievement is tainted by the thought of what it would have been like to have my father, my son's grandad here with us to share these experiences.

It all leaves me more than desperate for them to connect, for my son to know his grandad in a way that photos and stories can't provide. I want him to feel a closeness, a love and a bond that stretches through time and sweeps him up in my father's arms giving him the cuddles that he should have had.

I want my son to have something he can't have.

I thought losing my father was hard, but knowing that such a special relationship will never exist brings that devastation back in a brand new way.

Building a connection with someone who is not here is not an easy task, no matter how much love you have it's never going to be the same. I thought it would have to be my memories that provide the connection, but then how do you convey those memories to a baby, to a toddler, even to a preschooler in a way that they can truly understand?

You can't. And it hurts.

But then I realised that a connection is more than words and memories, it's indescribable in the most incredible way. He doesn't need my memories to be connected to his Grandad, he just needs something special that is his to have and his to keep. So I decided to make him that something special and it turned into such a heartwarming project.

My father, like so many father's I would guess, was the type of man to go shopping very occasionally so he had only a handful of shirts that got him through all of the special events in his life. So many of my memories are of him wearing these shirts and it was these memories that inspired me to take them out of the cupboard and use them to make a comfort blanket for my son.

A comfort blanket is such a special item for a child, it is something that makes them feel safe and secure and is something that they inherently love. Using my father's shirts to make a comfort blanket for my son made it even more special.

I admit that it took me a while to start this project, the idea was simmering for some time before I got the courage to put scissors to the shirts and start. It wasn't cutting them that held me back, but the enormity of what I was doing was almost a little too much for me at first.

I must say though that it was well worth the time and thought because what it has turned into has been such a comfort for both me and my son.

Each time I see him fast asleep with his arms wrapped around my father's shirts I feel as though he is finally getting those hugs that he deserves.

I feel as though my father is there protecting him as he sleeps and I can see a bond that goes far beyond photos and stories.

It is real and unspoken.

It is something special between just the two of them and it comforts my heart to know that I have provided such a special connection.



  1. This was a really beautiful post Ali, I'm glad you decided to publish it. I like that it is personal, but still sharing a lovely idea of something special for your children. Xx

  2. This is so beautiful, Alison. Your longing for your dad is so clear. I absolutely love your idea to keep him close. x

  3. I can't tell you how much I loved this post. I lost my Dad 4 years ago and it's so hard going through all the milestones without him here. My eldest graduated high school and started Uni and he wasn't here to see it.


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