Sunday 21 July 2019

Aisling Bea pens powerful essay on her father's tragic death

Comedian Aisling Bea
Comedian Aisling Bea Newsdesk Newsdesk

Aisling Bea has opened up about the death of her late father in a powerful essay, 30 years after he died by suicide.

Ms Bea (33), an Irish comedian, said she grew up not knowing the circumstances around his death, but on his 10th anniversary, her mother sat her and her younger sister down to explain to them that he took his own life.

"My mother, being the wonder woman that she is, never held his death against him," she wrote in The Guardian. "When she looked into his coffin, she felt she saw the face of the man she had married: his stress lines had gone, he seemed free of the sadness that had been dogging him of late. But it was still tough for her to talk about. She didn’t want to have to explain to a stranger in the middle of a party how he was not defined by his ending, but how loved he was, how cherished the charismatic, handsome vet in a small town had been. She didn’t want his whole person being judged."

Bea, who lives in London, said she struggled to accept the circumstances of his death for many years.

"Once she had told us, I did not want to talk about him. Ever again. I now hated him. He had not been 'taken' from us, he had left. His suicide felt like the opposite of parenting. Abandonment. Selfishness. Taking us for granted," she wrote.

"I didn't care that he had not been 'in his right mind', because if I had been important enough to him I would have put him back into his 'right mind' before he did it. I didn’t care that he had been in 'chronic pain' and that men in Ireland don’t talk about their feelings, so instead die of sadness. I didn’t want him at peace. I wanted him struggling, but alive, so he could meet my boyfriends and give them a hard time, like in American movies. I wanted him to come to pick me up from discos, so my mother didn't have to go out alone in her pyjamas at night to get me."

Now, on the 30th anniversary of his death, she said a number of factors contributed to her understanding of it, in particular when her family received a previously undiscovered box of pictures with him.

"It has given me a lifelong love of women, of their grittiness and hardness – traits that we are not supposed to value as feminine. It has also given me a love of men, of their vulnerability and tenderness – traits that we do not foster as masculine or allow ourselves to associate with masculinity," she explained.

Anyone affected by issues in this story can contact the Samaritans freephone line on 116 123 or Pieta House on 1800 247 247

Online Editors

Editors Choice

Also in Life