There are few things more difficult, both emotionally and practically, than dealing with the death of a parent. But a young Edmonton man is sharing his grief and frustration in a series of raw, honest tweets.
Daryn Bondarchuk was one of the men killed in a workplace accident at Millennium Cryogenic Technologies, an industrial company in the Leduc Business Park on Nov. 15.
The 52-year-old was a father of three. His son Cody described him as a handyman.
“He was just very much a fixer with a lot of different things,” Cody told Global News on Thursday. “He had little bits of knowledge in all kinds of industries. We never bought bookshelves for our rooms when we were kids –electrical work, woodworking, plumbing — anything else that we needed to do.
Cody said his dad worked at Millennium Cryogenic Technologies for about two years, after a long friendship with the company’s owner, Russell MacKay. He said he believes his dad worked on machinery at the shop.
Cody said he received a call from an RCMP officer one week ago, explaining that his dad had died.
“It’s just been such a strange blur,” he said. “All the cliches that people say when someone passes — I always just rolled my eyes at them, but now, I really believe them.
“Even though it sounds corny — it is very shocking. You don’t know if it’s real. You just feel kind of trapped in time.”
The last time he saw his father, Daryn was dropping off some food.
“He would always bring over food, at least one a month. He’d call me up and say, ‘Hey I have smoked cheese or ribs or something.'”
Not knowing what happened to his father has been frustrating at times, according to Cody, but he says he knows his dad took safety seriously.
“He was someone who always payed a lot of attention to safety standards, so that’s really what makes me feel a bit more confident that it was just such a fluke. It couldn’t have happened any other way,” he said.
“He’s a very careful person.”
View photos of Daryn Bondarchuk in the gallery below:
The day after his father’s death, Cody took to Twitter, sharing his heartwrenching thoughts and experiences: the sheer physical exhaustion of mourning, the frustration of trying to get practical matters in order and the unexpected little things that prompt a fresh wave of grief.
As of Thursday morning, the essay stretched across 39 tweets, whose text is listed below.
Things They Don’t Tell You When Your Parent Dies Suddenly, a Thread:
1. A lot of the first few days is just a lot of driving. To different family members’ houses, to an airport, to the house you’re going to have to start cleaning out.
2. Grief and sadness is physically and mentally EXHAUSTING. I would give anything for just a few hours of not having to feel it to get a break and prepare for the next wave of grief.
3. You have to relive the moment you found out every time you phone someone else to tell them, even if it’s your parent’s landlord, insurance broker, etc.
4. I’m just so sad.
5. You don’t realize you’re hungry until it’s hours past the time you normally eat and you’re suddenly starving, but even then, you buy food and can’t finish it.
6. You see a photo of your dad from when he was your current age and he’s holding you as a baby and you realize how you really thought there was a lot more time to build new memories and have new adventures.
7. You alternate between feeling guilty that you’re just sitting around and feeling guilty that you’re doing things and not sitting around.
8. Your eyes are sore from crying but you still can’t stop. You want to sleep but can’t fall asleep.
9. You get some downtime to process things on your own but just spiral into memories and what-ifs and loneliness.
10. Nothing you had planned for the weekend happens or matters.
11. He doesn’t have Facebook because he’s your dad, so you start to worry that you won’t have any recent photos of him. But then you get access to his phone and computer and find photos you’ve never seen, where he looks so happy and alive.
12. You then realize that he, and everyone else in the world, never plans for someone to root through their phone without them there.
13. Everyone in the family just wanders around like zombies from place to place and no one else minds. You constantly police your own behaviour and emotional displays for the first few hours and then you completely let go and don’t care about how anyone sees you.
14. You start to hear about everyone who was better off for knowing your dad. All the people he coached, worked with, helped out, and showed kindness to.
15. And then you realize that to you he was Dad, but he had other names: brother, uncle, son, partner, friend. And the community that is grieving gets a bit bigger.
16. You see your Christmas tree from the corner of your eye and remember that you’re only six weeks until Christmas and it’s going to be such a bad one.
17. Even in the saddest moments of looking through photos, you still can’t help but think about how much he looked like Mac DeMarco when he was younger, and it’s kind of weird.
18. You hear from people you haven’t talked to in years, and almost feel bad that THEY are wishing YOU condolences because they also knew my dad and have their own right to feel grief too.
19. You scroll to your most recent non-death post from yesterday and are shocked at how far away it seems. Time moves so slowly.
20. You start looking into paperwork for death certificates and bank accounts and get immediately frustrated, put it to the side until you’re ready for the headache it will bring.
21. You realize that because he died at work, you also have to deal with WCB, which just feels like extra punishment.
22. Every cliche you hear about sudden deaths comes true. You always think you have more time. You question that last encounter, those calls you chose to miss, what you wanted to say that you never can now.
23. You stand at Arrivals in the airport with everyone waiting for a family member and when he gets in you feel a bit more unified as a family but there is still something missing that will never come back.
24. Even though it’s past 2 a.m., you’ll still be a while from being able to sleep, and it won’t be for more than a few hours.
25. You start to catch yourself unconsciously using past tense to refer to him, and it makes you sad that your brain understood so quickly that he isn’t coming back.
26. Trying to figure out the code to their safe is really, really frustrating.
27. You meet friends of friends of your parent, people you haven’t seen since you were a baby (it at all), and they show you so much love and kindness and tell you how much you look like them.
28. You spend an evening with your siblings and their partners and for the first time in two days you start talking about things other than your parent’s death. Video games, friends, current events, etc. You start to feel the massive hole in your heart stitch up just a little bit.
29. I don’t know how long this lasts for, but the last two days have felt like that episode of BoJack Horseman that’s completely underwater. It’s surreal.
30. You feel guilty taking food from your parent’s fridge home to eat even though you know that’s an irrational feeling because it needs to be cleaned out somehow and why throw it out?
31. It’s the first business day after, so you are able to start filing paperwork. Some staff are very patient and understanding that you don’t know which documents to ask for, but many are not.
32. You pick up his truck to drive back into the city, and you didn’t realize how viscerally the smell of his clothes and stuff in the truck would hit you.
33. Paperwork is exhausting. Bureaucracy is exhausting. I feel like I worked two eight-hour shifts today.
34. You spent the last five days constantly phoning different people at all hours so when you finally check up on your phone plan use, you see more than $60 in overage charges because you didn’t even think about how not having unlimited calls would matter this week.
35. You text Telus to change your plan to unlimited, accidentally tell the employee that your dad passed away because that’s how you’ve started every interaction with a company this week and it’s habit, and now you feel deeply embarrassed. The employee is very nice about it.
36. You finish the fruit you grabbed from his fridge. You throw the tupperware in the sink and make a mental note to wash it so you can return it to Dad. Then you remember. Then you cry.
37. You’re getting dressed in the morning to see him one last time before he is cremated, but you’re scared because you don’t know if you’ll be able to let him go.
38. The day you see your parent’s body will be the worst day of your life. The fight between staying near to him and crying uncontrollably, and shutting everything out to try and numb your devastation, will make you go insane.
39. You keep mouthing “goodbye, Dad” but it’s impossible to say goodbye to a body. His life, his spirit has left it, it looks like him but the part of him that I love and miss isn’t there. It’s not him.
Cody said he’s going to remember his dad for his belief in hard work.
“He always cared about the effort you put in, more than the output. He would always look at the comments in a report card more than the grade itself… That’s something that I thought about a lot in the last week. Again, it’s really corny but if you always just try your best — then results will come.
“Knowing that you gave it your all is something I think he wanted to pass down and that I want to live by now.”
–With files from Sarah Kraus, Global News