Losing Dad: How a Man Responds to the Death of His Father

by A Manly Guest Contributor on June 8, 2010 · 118 comments

in Relationships & Family

Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Brian Burnham. Mr. Burnham holds a Masters of Education in Counseling from the College of William and Mary and is a Care Coordinator for Riverside Behavioral Health Center.

“His heritage to his children wasn’t words or possessions, but an unspoken treasure, the treasure of his example as a man and a father.” — Will Rogers Jr.

While growing up, our fathers, whether for good or ill, are our earliest and strongest examples of manliness. Even for those who grow up fatherless his influence is a major one, conspicuous for its absence. It is therefore only natural that the death of a man’s father is an event that holds incredible and often very painful significance. When I last wrote for the Art of Manliness, I spoke to the ways in which men grieve. It is not surprising that many of the men who responded to that article alluded to the loss of their father. While a man grieving the loss of his father will go through an experience similar to what was previously discussed, the fact that the deceased is the man’s father makes the experience unique. Many men who have lost their fathers describe it as a loss like no other. They report that the way they grieved their father was different from any other grief that they experienced and often felt that the only people who could readily understand were other men that had also lost their fathers. ((Veerman, D., & Barton, B. (2003). When Your Father Dies: How a Man Deals with the Loss of His Father. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishing.)) I know that I certainly felt this way when my father passed in February 2009. It is that uniqueness, as well as the short and long term effects of losing a father, that I hope to address here.

In their book When Your Father Dies: How a Man Deals with the Loss of His Father, Dave Veerman and Bruce Barton interviewed sixty men from all walks of life who had lost their fathers. While each man’s story was unique, the authors identified and described the common themes that readily emerged from these accounts.

Vulnerability. When our father dies, we frequently lose much more than the person of our father. It’s often surprising to men how the world doesn’t stop at his passing. Sons are acutely aware of their father’s passing, and when the world doesn’t share that same awareness it can leave the grieving son feeling terribly alone and isolated from a world that doesn’t seem to understand. Many men experience a sense of being an orphan even if their mother is still alive because they feel so alone in the world. This sense of vulnerability is compounded by the fact that for many of us our fathers served as a kind of shield. We knew that we could count on dad for help and advice when things turned against us. With his father gone, the son may not know where he can turn in a crisis and feel vulnerable and afraid. This holds true as well for men who had a negative or non-existent relationship with their fathers. While dad may not have been a protector or provider, men still feel vulnerable and alone, often feeling that they are the only ones that can break negative cycles in their families.

Awareness of Mortality. As I noted in my last article, we live in a culture that prefers to deny and avoid the reality of death. However when a man loses his father the reality that life is finite and that he too will someday die becomes inescapable. While this realization can come anytime death touches us, it is particularly potent when we lose our fathers. This is because many men see their father as part of themselves and a small part of them has died with their dad. Not only is the inevitability of death driven home, but also its finality. The son knows that he will never (at least in this life) see his father again, and that when he too dies it will be just as final. Some may say, “So what, death is an objective fact, why should losing a particular person make this fact so much more frightening?” The problem is the illusion of control. We as men all operate under the assumption that we are in command of our own destiny, that we are in control. In many cases this is more or less accurate; however, when it comes to death, this simply isn’t true. Having our protective illusion stripped from us is terribly emasculating since no amount of self-control or problem solving can bring back the dead. This leaves the surviving son grieving not only his father, but also the new understanding he has reached.

Loss of Audience. It’s a classic American image, the son playing sports and the father coaching and cheering him on. This dynamic between father and son isn’t limited to sports but extends to many areas of a son’s life. A son will often go out of his way to please his father, and he is one of the few people that it is acceptable to truly brag to. We can proudly bring home our trophies and A+ papers to show to dad, and this dynamic extends well in to adulthood as men share their accomplishments in college, their career, and family. When our father is gone it feels, not like the audience is missing a member, but the whole audience is gone. For sons who are also fathers themselves this loss extends to not being able to share the accomplishments of their children with the proud grandfather and not being able to seek out advice for parenting. Many sons miss dad not only when they need parenting advice, but when they need their old coach in any area of life that’s giving them trouble. For a man whose father was distant or absent, this loss of audience was felt long before his father’s death as he struggled in vain to earn his father’s approval. Now at his death the loss is doubled as the son realizes he can never gain the approval he craved when his father was alive.

Taking Up the Mantle. In many ways the death of a father serves as a right of passage, though a painful and difficult one. This is due to the fact that for many sons their inheritance is less about property and more about responsibility. Many men, regardless of their age when their father died, feel like they grew up suddenly and significantly when it happened. Their father’s death leaves a vacuum in the family dynamic, and sons often feel compelled to step up to try to fill their father’s role. This is especially true if the father had been the leader and protector of the family. Sons may feel a great deal of pressure and may not feel up to the task of protecting and leading the family. If Mom is still alive, then caring for her will often be a central focus of this sense of responsibility. At best this will lead to growth for the son, and the family will pull together and become closer as it adjusts to the new dynamics. However, this is not always the case. Family members may resist the son’s efforts to take a leadership role; siblings may even compete for leadership within the family. At worst this can lead to a family disintegrating without the presence of the father that had once held them together. For men whose fathers were absent or abusive, the idea of taking up their father’s mantle is sometimes frightening. These sons have no desire to fill the same dysfunctional role as their father and feel an intense pressure to break the painful cycles that their father had embodied.

A Long Shadow. As a boy grows, he learns many lessons and skills from his father who serves as his mentor and teacher. The son also quickly learns that in these circumstances it is often better to do things his father’s way both because he has more experience and because it is often not worth the hassle of disobedience. Sons long for the approval of their fathers and live to be told “good job.” This desire for a father’s approval and dislike of disapproval extends into adulthood and men are not free of it even after their father’s death. Sons will often feel the presence of their father when they use skills that they learned from him, visit places associated with him, or use his possessions. When it comes to these possessions many men report keeping a memento or two of their father that helps them stay connected to him. For me personally, it is my father’s drafting tools and his wedding band, which serves as my own. However, sons can find it difficult to get rid of or make changes to their father’s property. They often feel like they’re trespassing and feel the sting of their father’s disapproval. They may also feel this sense of disapproval when they choose to do things in a way other than “Dad’s way.” Conversely sons will still long for their father’s approval, holding up things they do to scrutiny and asking themselves “Would dad be proud?” In this way the long shadow of our fathers affects the way we live our lives long after his passing. This is superficially similar to the “loss of audience” experience because in both experiences the grieving son longs to interact with his dad again. The experience of the long shadow differs, however, in that it is less about having someone to watch and cheer and more more about seeking approval and avoiding disapproval.

Our Father’s Legacy. As the son progresses through the grieving process, one of the tasks he will inevitably work through is sorting through the legacy his father has left him. Men will often look at the life of their fathers and that of their grandfathers and great-grandfathers to try to take stock of their heritage and to see how their father’s values and lifestyle have influenced them. Some sons will look back happily on men of character and values that they admire and hope to emulate. Other sons will look back to see a chain of flaws, faults, and abuses-a legacy they’d rather leave behind. But even these sons usually seek some positive quality in their father’s legacy that they can hold onto. For the son who is also a father, examining the legacy also comes with the realization that they too are a link in this chain, that someday they will be passing the legacy on to their own children. Many men are inspired by this to forge stronger relationships with their children so that the legacy they leave is one that their children can be proud of when it is their turn to mourn their father.

While these themes are typical of men that have lost their fathers and lend the perspective and understanding that is an important part of healing, it is extremely difficult to effectively capture the uniqueness and complexity of this experience. I personally continue to struggle to understand the loss of my father. Even as I wrote this article I would at times have to stop as memories came flooding back and all I could do was sit there at my keyboard and cry. Even as I struggle though, I know that I have gained at least one thing from mourning my father, a determination to live a life that will find me worthy to be called my father’s son. For each reader who is a son who has lost their father I would encourage you to do two things. First I would encourage you to struggle. While this may seem odd, it is in working through the turmoil of mourning that we stand to gain the most as men. Second I would encourage you to seek out the company of other men in the same position. They can provide some of the strongest support. Fortunately for us, AoM is an excellent place to seek out the support of our fellow men.

To this end I have started a Group in the AoM Community, “Remembering Dad,” for men who have lost their fathers. It is a place to mourn, celebrate, and remember our fathers and a place for men to share experiences and draw strength from one another. I invite you to join up.

Now I would like to turn it over to the reader to share stories of their dads and their struggle so that we can together search for meaning.

Source:

When Your Father Dies: How a Man Deals with the Loss of His Father by Dave Veerman and Bruce Barton

{ 118 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Tim Woolery June 9, 2010 at 12:00 am

I’m sorry, I couldn’t get through the article – it was too painful. I got as far as “We knew that we could count on dad for help and advice when things turned against us. With his father gone, the son may not know where he can turn in a crisis and feel vulnerable and afraid.” when I realized ‘Hey, my dad is alive and I will never be able to count on him for advice or help. I can’t turn to him for anything – I have had to learn who I can count on if I feel vulnerable and afraid.’

I don’t want to take away from what you’ve written but I felt compelled to say something and I’m sorry that it wasn’t more complimentary. Fathers are valuable people and not having one around makes life difficult – I try to be a good dad to my son and be the change I wish to see in the world.

Cheers.

2 Joe Proctor June 9, 2010 at 12:15 am

I lost my father suddenly in 1998. I finally completely got over the ordeal earlier this year. I have fought depression and other issues.

I gained over 100 pounds in the 6 months after his death. I’ve worked off some of it over the years, but I dropped over 30 pounds since March. I really feel back to the way I was back then, happy & healthy. By year’s end I hope to be near my proper weight.

It took my 6 months to work up to writing this simple letter as part of the ’30 days to a Better Man’ series.
http://fictionalbeer.wordpress.com/2010/05/

3 Jeremy June 9, 2010 at 12:24 am

Tim, you ought to give the article more of a chance. The author talks about those who have a difficult relationship with their dad throughout the whole thing.

My dad and I’s relationship was incredibly strained my whole life. When he passed away when I was 20, the biggest thing I felt was guilt. Guilt that we hadn’t patched things up and made amends. It’s a terrible thing to know that your last conversation with your dad was an angry fight. I would do anything to go back and change that.

4 Demian June 9, 2010 at 12:54 am

This is most poignant as I lost my father last week, and he was buried on Wednesday, June 2nd. He was a vital and lucid 95 years old. Had a brilliant career and worked until he was 88, and only stopped to take care of my ailing mother.
I am 51, and dealing with all the issues you mentioned in this article. The feeling of loss: of a mentor, of that “blanket of protection”, of the rock solid presence in your life. Being suddenly thrust into the role of “paterfamilias”, and wondering if you can fill those shoes. The torch being passed and suddenly realizing that you are your own protector, advisor and have to truly grow up and man up.
My mother’s death six years ago was particularly painful, but with my father goes not only “Dad”, but that whole world that was my family unit, their history and the whole continuity of this part of my world. It is massive, and I’m am only slowly coming to terms with what this truly means to my life. I definitely feel a shift of something. A new resolve and sense of purpose. He was part of that Greatest Generation, who’s numbers dwindle every day. It is quite a legacy to live up to.
As you’ve mentioned in an article before, that razor has to be constantly sharpened.

5 Eric Goughnour June 9, 2010 at 1:14 am

i never knew my biological father but i was raised by my grandfather he passed in Nov. just a few years ago and i recall it taking it taking me till Dec of the following year to actually have a good emotional moment about it all.

i was in a state of disbelief and anger for so long (probably because of guilt because i didn’t have the cash to get a plane ticket to pay respects)

i have since found his life and all the things he did to be quite an inspiration to orient me toward goals and motivation for my own life. he did a heck of allot 3 wars,pro sportsman, cop, entrepreneur… quite a pair of shoes to fill.

6 Glenn June 9, 2010 at 1:20 am

My father is, thankfully, still alive at this point, but this article touched home quite a bit. My Dad and I live on opposite coasts and I worry (perhaps too much) about his health and his age and dread the possibility of his death while I am still separated by distance. I’ve gone over the scenario a few times in my mind and it plays out very similar to what was written.

Excellent article on a difficult subject. Bravo.

7 Matthew June 9, 2010 at 1:52 am

Demien and Joe – my condolences.

Lost my dad to ALS (Lou Gehrig”s) five years ago. He was 54. To watch this bear of a man who wore size 13 shoes go down like that was horrifying. He spent most of his life in public service (fire department, teacher). At his funeral, so many people turned up relating about how he’d helped them by his actions in his life.

Like others, I’m dealing with the issues in the article. I would love to hear those stories Dad told one more time. The long shadow my father cast is my biggest hurdle.

The one silver lining is that Dad’s disease brought him and I closer. In the U.S., Father’s Day is the 20th. For me, it’ll be a quiet day of remembrance. For those of you whose fathers are living, make a sincere effort to enjoy the time with him. If things are strained or non-existent, I advise one to make a sincere effort to at least get on speaking terms. If anything, when he passes, you can honestly say you at least tried.

8 Drew Scott June 9, 2010 at 2:52 am

I think this article is an article everyman should read.
I am 28 now and I lost my father when I was 16. While my father had never been a large part of my life, receiving the call telling me of his passing was still a very hard call to take.
While I was lucky to have a step-father who took a very active role in my development I was still plagued with so many questions about my father and myself. When my father was laid to rest I was re-introduced to my family on my fathers side and so I was able to begin putting all the pieces together. I began asking family about my father, what he was like when he was my age, what aspects of my personality do I get from him. I was lucky that quite alot of my questions were answered and so in that regard I gained some insight into the type of man my father was and thus part of who I am and in someways become.
Unfortunately alot of my quesitons went unanswered and alot of what I wanted to say to my father was left unsaid. I felt (and in some cases still feel to this day) that my father “dodged” having to be held accountable to me. I wanted him to explain some of his actions so that I could hopefully forgive him.
While I was not particularly close to my father and if you were to describe him, “father” would not be used in that description, I still loved my father. I still miss my father. He was a man who followed his dreams and truly loved life and for that I will always respect him.
Since finding this website I have been amazed at how much I and other men I know need this website to help us become the best men we can be.
This article continues to reinforce the fact that men from all over the world need this website to help guide us as we work towards being well-adjusted, respectable and depandable men.

Thank you

9 William Hoffknecht June 9, 2010 at 3:52 am

This article is hitting home for me because I am in a position where my father is rather quickly falling apart. He had a stroke at 49 and has been downhill ever since, only to get the news recently that at the age of 55 the doctors think he has pulmonary fibrosis, which is what took his brother, my uncle, just a few years ago.
My father is a good man, not perfect by any means, and not always as supportive as he could have been, but one that always taught me the value of a strong work ethic, whether it is a job you hate and do not need, you must do it to the best of your abilities. That is his life.
I have been dealing with these feelings a lot lately that I read about in this article and coping well, I have always been gifted with the ability to cope well and comfort others in times of stress, but this is the first time that I have ever had to face the fact that my father will not be around much longer. The beauty in learning this for me was the acceptance that each day with my family is a gift. It has hit me even harder because I just had my first child, my first son last year and thinking about how he will have to know of these feelings in the future.
Good luck to all and wishes of long lives to all of the fathers out there.

10 Jesus Barcelo June 9, 2010 at 6:08 am

My Old man passed away 3 years ago, it was a fight of 5 days for his life and i was by is sidein the hospital during the day since my mom took care of him by night. Dont get me wrong, he do not suffer, or its wath i like to tink; He died from a stroke who took is movility from the right side, he cant talk the only think he could do well in his seeking ness its sleeping.

In the moment the man got in the emergency room flashbacks of a story my mom told me when i was young got in to my brain as if the moment couldnt be the best.- My father take care of my grandfather for 5 years, my grandfater a former judge was sufering of parkinson and ins and outs ot the hospital a couple of bad brain operations put him in not so good shape.- The only think i could do its for the less returning him the favor not only becouse it was my dad, becouse he do the same thing for his father.

The Friday he dye i remembered like it was yesterday.- I was staying on my aunt house sudenly she wakesme up made me breakfast and some tea and told me to get dressed go to hospital prepared for the worse. For the time i got to the hospital the old man was gone my mom it was debastated and becouse i am the only son told me the way the man took his last breathe: She grab his hand and place his mouth to my father ear telling: “You can go in peace we are going to be all right its time to you to go”. In the precisse moment his heart stops, He couldnt die without my moms permission.

The only think we could talk it was about sports or cars; Every soccer world cup we watch togheter where little gems i store in my heart; He teached me how to be a man, respect every women on this planet, fix things, screw thinkgs, life by codes,
dont moan,read, and speak english.

11 Dawson June 9, 2010 at 8:01 am

When I was fourteen my father passed away very suddenly (literally overnight….came home, went to bed, woke up and he was gone) from a heart attack. It punched a hole in my life that I’ve still yet to be able to fill. At 16, my step-mother kicked me out of the house. When I tell people about those two incidents they’re immediate response is horror that i was thrust out on my own at 16…but for me, that was nothing compared to the pain and confusion brought on by losing my father. His death will always stick out as the number one most defining moment in my youth.

After that, I got my GED, dumped all my responsibilities and spent a marathon of 5 years moving from state to state, city to city. Not my proudest moment as a man… I know now that I was trying to out-run the experience of losing my father…it never worked. As one would expect it followed me everywhere. About three years ago I started to deal with some things…and it’s gotten better. But there’s still that hole where Dad ought to be. I’m sure there always will be.

12 Mike June 9, 2010 at 8:28 am

My condolences to all who have lost their fathers through death and other means – and no offense, but I think the later can carry more lasting devistation on a person than the former. Regardless, it’s a very painful loss, to say the least.

Thank heaven, my Dad is still alive and doing well. My cousin, however, lost her husband to Stiff Person Syndrome last week, leaving behind three young boys. (see the link below – it’s a horrible way to go) I can’t help but wonder what those young men-in-embryo are going through. My uncle (cousin’s father, boy’s grandfather) is quite a man, and I also wonder what he must be thinking, knowing that he is now a surrogate father to these three young men?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stiff_person_syndrome

I’d be interested to hear thoughts from all of you who have become surrogate fathers to young men (or women, for that matter) through death, divorce, abandonment, etc.

13 Rob Ross June 9, 2010 at 10:01 am

Having just lost my father on May 12th, I’m still feeling the emptiness of his death at 75. Even though we knew and were prepared for some time that it was going to happen, when that phone call came, it still took something out of me that I’ll never have back. He suffered for the last four years with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, glaucoma and emphysema, which ultimately took him. The week before he passed away, the doctor told me that he had maybe a week or two left–” you should begin saying your goodbyes”. And it was then a part of me absolutely died. You can train yourself and prepare and make sure all the details are taken care of, but the minute the phone rings for that last time, it all goes out the window. I know he’s at peace, out of pain and no longer suffering, but at this moment, I still feel the pain of him not being here and for me to be able to (in part) help take care of.

14 Rob Ross June 9, 2010 at 10:05 am

A caveat that I forgot to include in what I said above.

I was fortunate in that I had that last week with him that I went to the nursing home every day just to see him and sit with him for a few minutes. And every day, my parting words were the exact same: “I love you and I’m proud of you”.

I can, at least, live the rest of my life knowing those were the last words I ever said to my dad. I am proud to be his son and I will always feel the void.

15 Oyaji June 9, 2010 at 10:24 am

I learned a lesson from the Vietnamese when there was so much death and suffering, and have shared this lesson over the years. The Vietnamese believe that a person dies two deaths. One is the biological death, and the other is when the deceased is forgotten by family and friends. So, as long as we remember, they never die.

My father died after a quick illness several years ago. We were able to spend about a week together before he left “on the journey that he must make alone.” For me, he never died since he is only a thought, a laugh or a smile away. I believe, and I believe that we will be back together when I finally cross that last river.

You only have to believe.

16 Andrew Alspaugh June 9, 2010 at 10:36 am

Thank you for writing this, as it’s put so many things into a different light. This article hit so hard that I had to walk away from it several times this morning before finishing it. I lost my father when I was 12 and have only now began to deal with it fully at 27. After reading this article I can see all those feelings that affected me, and to some extent still do today.

17 Phillip R. Boyd June 9, 2010 at 11:27 am

Thank you for posting this. I lost my father at 9, in 1992.
Losing a father is the most devastating thing a man can go through, and this plagues the black community as a whole. I am black, and my father was murdered. And one things that kills me, amids all of the aspects of being fatherless, and you touched on this one, but its that audience thing. A child, or young man has this need for affirmation so deeply, that he’ll do whatever to get it from wherever and whoever. Its a vicious cycle, and the need of affirmation effects a young mans self-esteem, self-image, self-worth, self-love…it affects so much, that a man has to find something that he percieves of equal worth to fill that void. Be it sports, business success, womanizing, drugs & achohol… But this is the thing that gets me. I am 27 now, and I feel like I need a father more now than ever before.

18 Peter Spearman June 9, 2010 at 12:56 pm

My dad passed away when I was a freshman in high school. I am now a rising senior and for my summer job I chose to work on a golf course. My dad was a golf course superintendent, and I have so many memories of going to work with my dad. I worked one day and was unable to go on. The sights, sounds, and especially the smells made me think of him. Thank you so much for this article.

God Bless.

19 Devin Lee June 9, 2010 at 1:26 pm

I lost my father almost 2 years ago, when I was 20. 7/27/08. We were hiking Mt. Hood in Oregon, and he got kit in the back of the head by a falling rock walking about 5 feet in front of me.

Every paragraph in this article made me want to cry. It is the most articulate way I’ve ever seen to explain what I was feeling. I feel like I just want to send it out to everyone, to explain how I feel, to let them know what I can’t really say. My father was my everything, and I’ve been struggling with motivation and a lot of self-worth since he died. I was watched for PTSD because of the circumstances, and luckily I’ve only had one flashback in 2 years.

There’s really not much to say when people ask you about losing your father. I can never think of anything more than a canned answer when people ask me “How are you doing?” I may just send them this.

I’ve always known how important my father was to me. But it’s taken me this long to even really start to come to terms with it. I still carry a canister of his ashes around my neck. I’ll probably never stop.

20 Scott F June 9, 2010 at 3:13 pm

My dad died in my house when I was 16.He died of a heart attack in my house alone in morning and we found him dead at the bottom of the stairs.I can still remember the day so vividly.I just felt numb afterwards even as we walked round his hometown.I didn’t cry properly until the day of the funeral.

It’s so weird too because the saturday before he died him,my and my mum were walking around enjoying life as the sun set.

It hit me so hard.I was in my last year at high school and was thrust into the role of man of the house.It wasn’t a role I could live up to.My dad was too big a personality and I was just too young and immature.Also while he was not quite the patriarch of the family he was definately the one with the most influence .I wasn’t a bad kid but I did argue with him more than I should’ve and I feel eternal guilt for it.

My sister immediately set herself up as the matriarchy instead of my mum and this was difficult because me and her rowed and I felt set upon by my sister and mum.There was no one to fight my corner and I felt lost.I really re-examined my life from there on.I spent 2007- late 2008 under a dark cloud that was pretty close to depression if not depression itself.It was a time of big changes I left school hopeless and depressed ,did nothing, was unemployed ,ended up in a bad relationship and didn’t start to get it sorted out till oct 2008.Now I’m 20 have a fiance and a job and can cope much better in a world without my dad but I still miss him and think of him.I always wonder what he’d say or try to remember things he’d say.

21 Tom June 9, 2010 at 4:05 pm

I lost my dad 4.5 years ago. A lot of this resonates. All of a sudden I got into geneaology and model railroads, because i value my place in my lineage and I know that my dad was into railroads. I feel an ENORMOUS amount of pressure to stay alive for my son (who is 3) and to live a life he’ll want to model, knowing full well what I’m going through might be what he goes through

Since my son is still at an age where he idolizes me, that reverence is nice, but it’s VERY very humbling. I know I’m mortal, he doesn’t. Scary thought.

I’m told this isn’t uncommon, but I didn’t realize he was an alcoholic until he died. Not that I was in denial, but my perspective on his life just wasn’t big-picture enough for me to connect the dots.

22 Peter O'Reilly June 9, 2010 at 4:56 pm

Good article. While my dad is actually still alive, I sometimes wonder what its going to be like after he’s gone. I also wonder how I might react to the news. Its good to know ahead of time some of the things that I’m going to need to process.

23 Adrian June 9, 2010 at 9:54 pm

I lost my father 12 years ago today after a long and difficult struggle with lung cancer. Sufficient time has passed for me to be able to think about the whole experience of my father, not just his death and the immediate aftermath. What I have discovered is that there is so much more of him that is still alive to me than dead.

For example, for nearly a decade, I felt difficult about touching or using the things my father had left me, like his treasured wristwatch. I felt somehow that I didn’t “deserve” it or that I had no right to enjoy it as it wasn’t “mine”. Then one day a light came on over my head, and I realised that this was not what he would have wanted at all.

To continue to touch and enjoy the same things he did actually means that our relationship is not dead. In a sense, he is living on through me – through a set of shared values and appreciation of the good things in life. I understand now how important this was to him in those last days, and with that realisation came a deep sense of equanimity and family pride.

To everyone reading this who is still grieving the loss of their dad, I would say keep your chin up and stay positive. One day you too will arrive at the point where you can look at the whole picture and see how that experience has actually made you a better man and someone of whom your father would have been very proud.

24 W.T. Culclasure June 9, 2010 at 10:36 pm

We buried Dad six years ago last month. The preacher said of him, “Tommy was not a perfect man but he was most certainly a good man.” I have since heard, from old friends and perfect strangers, of both his goodness and human frailty- he spoke little of either. He was a fine father and a helluva friend. Cheers to all good but not perfect Dads and to the sons they raised.

25 Pete N June 10, 2010 at 2:40 am

My father passed away in August 2003 while I was on my first deployment in th Middle East during the War on Terror. I received an email from my wife asking that I find a way to call home as soon as possible and of course I sent several replies requesting the nature of the urgency and she would not say what had happened. My Father’s death did not really come to mind as he had not been gravely ill or suffering from relapse due to Chrones disease. He was only 62 and I was 40 at the time.

I am a disabled Vet and served in the USAF Security Forces but stayed in law enforcement then security consulting when I went DoD as what is known as an Anti-Terrorist Officer working side-by-side with the Army and NATO forces so the choice to be deployed was my own.

Initially me sister was very upset in the sense that she blamed me (and Step-Mother) for the added stress on my Father for going to the Middle East. The remainder of the family, two younger brothers (who had also been deployed there) and wife, daughters, Mother and others did not see it that way.

THough my parents divorced when I was a teen I chose (Oldest Son) to live with Dad and went into the military after high school and between that and LE/Security work I was not near family for many years but always did my best to make time and visit Dad in any way possible… going hunting and fishing, visiting him at home or work.

The initial impact, I was stunned, maybe shock… and it did not really hit me until the funeral service, especially when at the burial itself. I found myself over the years dealing with it constructively I thought… but also realized an anger, an anger for not spending more time, not visiting or talking more. Our relationship was typical of a Father/Eldest son… I was athletic, outgoing and outspoken like him, a fighter… but not with his short fuse… we came to agree on some things and agree to disagree on other, but I wanted more and was angery we didn’t have more and that he was not more involved with my four children… that was mostly due to his wife and the fact she caused way too much drama over the years which kept an unseen, but defined rift.

I’ve come to terms with it all, but there is that underlying current now and then… emotion, greif and snese of loss when experiencing certain things which send clear reminders of the past… most which I hold in good conscience and in good memories… his hard work ethic, his talent with music, singing and playing instruments, hunting of course… my youngest brother has not gone hunting since he passed but I do, I do in his memory.

I haved dealt with several men, younger and near the same age, soldiers and DoD who’ve lost their Father’s while on deployment and our mortality regardless of age has always been a talking point… after 5 deployments though and nearly facing my mortality three times I am no longer deployable and is a blessing in itself. But I would welcome discussion with any man on this subject because it is a life defining moment for us all.

THANK YOU for covering this topic – I would also look forward to a NEW TOPIC (I have not noticed one yet that I can remember) on the impact of deploymet during this war and its LIFE CHANGING affects/effects… especially when dealing with the physical as well as the mental/spiritual impact it has on us (I have TBI/traumatic brain injury and other injuries) as men returned to civil society, families and friends who love us dearly but can rarely understand what has happened to us and will happen within and around us for years to come.

26 Adventure-Some Matthew June 10, 2010 at 9:44 am

It’s amazing how accurate this article was! I lost Dad about 13 months ago now, and I’ve been through every one of those points. It’s so nice to know that I’m not alone, and having something put what I was going through into words. Thank you!

27 Jason Barker June 11, 2010 at 7:55 am

Tuesday Sept 18 1990.That was the day that I became a man.At the age of 13 I was now the man of the house.My father who was my basis for everything I did and believed in was 45.He had a massive heart attack.From that day on I have struggled to the best of my ability to be a man.Though difficult and confusing I believe that event made me a better man.I took on the resposibility of guiding my younger brother {11 at the time} and trying to grow up as fast as i could.I only hope taht in watching me go through this from up there I made the old man proud.

28 Dan C June 11, 2010 at 9:28 pm

I lost my Dad at 16, he was a musician and he first put an instrument in my hands at 6. He wasn’t my bio dad as I was the result of an ill advised marriage between his daughter and an Army man coming home from Korea. Even given all the convoluted lineage my dad was my dad, he wasn’t grandpa (which he was by birth) he was my dad! He supported me every step of the way and I can’t begin to express the impact he had on my life. Every day his presence is felt in my life and no finer tribute can be given. If anyone reading this is fortunate enough to still have their dad, I can give no wiser counsel than to interact, listen and realize nothing is forever.

29 Rich K June 11, 2010 at 11:01 pm

Here is something I Wrote after the passing of my father:
http://tinyurl.com/AoMfather

30 Alejandro June 13, 2010 at 12:49 am

I want to thank this site´s creators for having made a site that tries to make us better men. This article was something I had to read. Grandfathers are our dads in some way. My grandfather died this June 8, our family was devastated, he always knew how to cheer us even in the hardest times and makes us look on the bright side of life. We had lunch before his heart surgery and he showed me photos and a book he was writing; he seemed as happy as ever and told us not to worry. He had the surgery. The doctors finished the surgery but he wouldn´t stop bleeding no matter what the doctors did…he didn´t make it. At least we know that he died in a peaceful way before the anesthesia had worn off. But I didn´t really say goodbye to him and that I regret.

We´ll never forget you Grandpa

31 Elliot June 14, 2010 at 3:13 am

I lost my father to bowel cancer when I was 15; and he was 52. Honestly I didn’t get on with him too well, he worked most of the time thusly me and my younger brother seldom saw him; and when we did he was either too tired to talk to us or just not interested.
I felt his loss profoundly, I still haven’t entirely got over it (2 years later), though I don’t have many memories of him I do remember the time when I returned for my final year at school, and I walked through the opening corridor and realised that my father was never going to see my brother start secondary school, and then It realy sunk in; he would never see us grow up.
This article is very poignant, the loss of audience metaphor particularly stirred up some pretty sad feelings in me. If you still have a dad even if you aren’t on particularly good terms, it probably would pay to talk to him, makes me wish I tried harder.

32 Joel June 14, 2010 at 1:04 pm

I would like to thank the AOM for posting this article. My father had passed away in 1996 when I was eighteen years of age. As I read through this article, I noticed similarities between paths that my life has taken since that day. In particular I would reference the increased feelings of responsibility to take care of and protect my mother, and the disintegration of family ties after the loss of the family leader. Although this was an event that happened fourteen years ago for myself, the article still had points that rang true. I also have had the unfortunate task of seeing three of my other friends go through the same situation that I have.

As a note of inspiration though, I must say that until my father passed, had I any inkling of how strong and brave my mother is. I am extremely fortunate to have a mother of her caliber. I also would like to make a recommendation to many of the men out there who are in a similar age bracket that I am. When I was growing up, there were many times when I should have paid more attention to what my father was doing. There was a wealth of knowledge there that did not even come close to tapping. I have since gotten married and have a wonderful father-in-law. Although this man will obviously never be a replacement for my own father, I have a great situation in which my father-in-law knows of my situation and I have eventually gotten myself comfortable with asking this new father figure for advice and expertise. To many of the men that I speak, grow comfortable with yourself enough that you can ask others for assistance. The loss of a father is a life-altering event. Do not believe that personal growth needs to stop there as well.

33 James Bonine June 15, 2010 at 2:12 am

Just found out tonight that my dad has cancer, in the airways near the heart. It has spread to the lipnods. The doctor will only do chemo. So I don’t know much longer he has. We were not close when I was growing up, we talked it out after he and mom divoriced. Things are ok, I am going to see him tomorrow afternoon.

34 bankmeister June 16, 2010 at 10:34 am

My father passed eight years ago yesterday. I want to thank the author of the post(s), the founders of the Web site, and the commenters for sharing all that they have. Men getting in touch with their emotions is often a source of comedy in our society, but it is a serious concept, and an important one to investigate. A toast to all of the boys walking the path to manhood, and those who await them.

35 Svetlana June 20, 2010 at 4:20 pm

I just found this site and want to express my deep condolescences to all men here who lost their fathers. Loss of a parent, especially early in life, is a very deep, important topic for me and unfortunately too close to home. For this reason I am conducting a research on guilt, emotions, experiences, and resiilience in individuals who lost a parent as a child or adolescent. We hope that the study findings will help parentally bereaved children to better cope with the loss and become stronger in the process.
I am inviting all men on this site who, unfortunately, lost their fathers before they turned 18 years old, to participate in the study by filling out a survey (takes about 30 minutes to complete). Here is a link to the survey: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/VW8HP5J. People like you found questions on the survey helpful and very relevant.
Thank you for your help and for those of you who are fathers, Happy Father’s Day!
Svetlana

36 lanaalsh June 21, 2010 at 3:27 am

I forgot to mention that your participation in this study will be PAID. After you complete the entire survey, in a space provided please indicate the name of this forum and the address to send $10 cash certificate.

I URGENTLY NEED MEN FOR MY STUDY! I THINK MEN NEED TO BE REPRESENTED AS WELL AS WOMEN IN THE STUDIES LIKE THAT. OTHERWISE THE RESULTS WILL REFLECT WOMEN’S EXPERIENCES ONLY AND MAY NOT BE APPLICABLE TO HELP BOYS AND MEN WHO LOST A PARENT. THIS A PAINFUL EXPERIENCE. PLEASE HELP OTHERS AND YOURSELF JUST BY FILLING OUT THE 30-MINITE SURVEY. http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/VW8HP5J
Thank you,
Svetlana

37 Michael June 23, 2010 at 9:32 am

I’m tearing up and I haven’t even lost my dad yet. It’s one of my greatest fears. Love you Dad.

38 Nic June 26, 2010 at 9:36 pm

I lost my father when I was 12 in a car accident, I then spent the next 10 years of my life in hell as my older brother suffered trough bi-polar and schizophrenia, I was sent away from home failed at my schooling and career. Now aged 40 & a father of teenage girls I think I am getting through it.

39 Kay June 28, 2010 at 12:09 pm

I would like some advice. My boyfriend lost his father about 9 months ago and is having great difficulty in dealing with it. They always had a rocky relationship and were not close. 10 months ago, my boyfriend accepted a job promotion in another state and decided to put his parents into a nursing home because he felt they couldn’t manage on their own (he asked his brother if he would be willing to check on them once or twice a month to make sure they were okay, but he refused so he felt he had no choice but to put them in nursing home). His father developed pneumonia within a month and died. He and his brother decided not to have a funeral, but to have him cremated. He did not even go back to California to deal with the situation, his brother handled everything. Now he says he feels guilty about his father’s death. He is extremely depressed and has been seeing a therapist, but it doesn’t appear to be helping. He is very withdrawn and easily agitated. I don’t know how to help or what to say. I know his father was very cruel to him growing up and he moved away as soon as he could and did not see him for over 25 years, so it is a little strange to me that he is taking it so hard. If anyone has advice or suggestions, I would greatly appreciate.

40 John June 29, 2010 at 1:12 pm

I never knew my father. I grew up never knowing the love of a father. Still, this article made me feel so deeply sad.

41 Nicholas July 11, 2010 at 4:52 am

First of all, my deepest heartfelt condolences to all those who have lost their fathers. And secondly, my gratitude to the creators of this site for helping men lead better lives.

I, too, could not finish the article; it hits far too close to home, and seeing it all there, in black and white, is a bit much for me.

I can relate to John; I lost my father to cancer when I was two-and-a-half years old. I never new him. I remember growing up, seeing all my friends with two parents, and having to tell new kids I met why I only had one. My mother, who is nothing short of a saint, did a phenomenal job (if I do say so myself!) in raising my younger brother and I, yet there are some things a mother cannot teach a son: how to shave, how to ride a bike, how to change a car’s oil – all these things I had to teach myself. I have a great life, and had a childhood any guy would be happy to have had. Yet I still feel there will always be a gap in my life, a void that nothing else can fill.

I’d trade 10 years of my life for one game of catch with my dad, or for one good conversation, or one fishing trip.

42 Dan July 17, 2010 at 7:56 am

My father is thankfully still alive…I am young, and am just about to start my own life away from home…but this article took me back to when I was thirteen and my father lost his dad to numerous health issues…regardless, I could see in my dad what will one day be me. I don’t get too worked up about many things. I haven’t had a good cry since I had a bad breakup with a girlfriend in highschool. But I know that when that day comes, I will cry like a baby. I think that’s what hits man most…remembering dad as a younger, stronger man. When I was a kid, I thought dad was invincible. The man nearly killed himself numerous times falling from ladders, off of roofs, on his table saw, and he just shook it off like it was nothing. I still see my dad as a big beast but I can see his arthritis acting up now, he hobbles for a few days after working in the back yard on Saturdays, and he’s starting to hunch over more. One thing dad taught me well was that life doesn’t stop for anyone. And although I can see now that dad is not the invincible man of steel I once thought he was, I can very much see that that’s what I will have to be for my kids. At least for a little while. When they’re old enough, they’ll know better, but when they’re young, I wanna be just like my dad, and his dad before him. Strong, full of confidence and good values, and loving to his dying day.

43 Nicolas July 25, 2010 at 4:43 pm

I lost my father on July 1st 2010 so this loss is very recent and I am still arranging everything and helping my mother with all the paperwork that follows a death. Even though my father’s death was expected because he had been ill for a year, it was a shock that evening for the whole family, all the more that we are rarely all at my parents’ place at the same time, and that day we were all there.
I can totally relate to everything in this article, especially the awareness of mortality, taking up the mantle, the shadow, everything he has given me and taught me.

44 Vince August 3, 2010 at 1:58 am

Thank you, Eric Goughnour, for your post. My dad died last November, and I was starting to think there was something wrong with me, with the lack of “emotional moments” and all that. Maybe alternating between numbness and being really pissed off isn’t so abnormal, at this point, after all.

45 Brian August 4, 2010 at 3:13 am

@ Kay
Although I am no expert in the field of psychology, I can relate to having lost my father to pancreatic cancer when I was 15, he was 49. From the time we found out about his cancer, til the evening of his death while I was talking to him on the phone was only 42 days.

My advice is this: Be patient with your boyfriend, support him, and understand that this is going to be a long and difficult road for you both. Don’t let the fact that “They always had a rocky relationship and were not close” have any negative impact on taking away from his loss. Your boyfriend is grieving-and has some added guilt that it was his “promotion” who placed his parents in the nursing home. I am now 33 and am still like many others who have posted “dealing” with the enormus loss and void that was created with my fathers death. I too become withdrawn and agitated when I think back to how things might have been different…it is a process we must all go through…it is life.

Thank you to all who have shared their stories, I too cried several times while reading Losing Dad: How a Man Responds to the Death of His Father.

For my dad as I say to him at the end of everytime I still “speak to him” —I love you, I miss you, until we meet again…

46 Amy Rigney August 9, 2010 at 2:38 pm

My boyfriend of 4 years just lost his father on Christmas day from a heart attack when he was only 45 years old. It was an incredible blow to the entire family and I am trying to do everything I can to help. He is the oldest of three boys left behind and his mom is still living. I have never seen a more devastating year for a family and I still cry at the thought of missing him. It has been six months and he still cries about once a week.

Is there anything that a girl can do for a man when he has lost his father and best friend?

47 Lincoln T. August 12, 2010 at 10:05 am

I actually discovered this great website today through my a friend of mine. This was an article that caught my eye immediately while i was scanning the site. I had to stop and read it. This article basically summed up how I’ve felt since that day.

My father passed away in Jan. 27 2006. I was only 19 turning 20 at that time. It took less than 5 months from discovering a small tumor in the liver to him passing away. I still struggle with the fact that he is gone. I can’t get over how I avoided everything… thinking that everything will be alright. If there is one thing I can wish for is to be able to rewind the clock and spend as much time as I could with him and get to know him better. I was not man enough to face the truth back then.. I still have moments where my mind would trail off and think about him and cannot stop tearing up.

It is true how I was never and still not able to talk to anyone around me about my father’s death because all my close friends are fortunate enough to still have their fathers around. This event did change me entirely. I’ve promised myself that because I’ve been through this myself I will always try to be there for them when it happens.

48 Michael Perry August 18, 2010 at 7:13 pm

when i first read this article i teared up pretty bad a week later my dad got sick and had been in and out of the hospital for about three months i kept coming back to this article and i am so glad i found this article its my happy place i had to watch my father die today and it is an experience i wouldnt wish upon the devil himself i appreciate this article so much and will return to it often thank you for this post

49 M.James Chihak September 20, 2012 at 1:58 am

As I was reading this artical many of the issues talked about struck me as very true my father passed away from cancer in June at the age of 57, so very young. He had always been the care taker and peace maker of our family and for the last 5mos of his life I was his caregiver as my mom is crippled with MS and could not care for herself let alown dad, after his passing my brother and I have had to take over careing for mom. I find my self more offen than not comparing my self to dad, am I doing it right? I then remember him telling my brother and me that he was proud of us and trusted us to take care of thing when he was gone, it always makes me feel better.

50 Erick September 22, 2012 at 1:06 pm

My father was born in 1944 making him 68. 2 weeks ago he had a heart attack and he is having many complications that make me pessimistic about his deteriorating health. I am experiencing so many emotions I have never felt before, I related so well to this article when it stated the change of responsibilty one feels as the “man” of the family and the realization that death is real even though my dad was always going to be there, I flirted with the idea of his death but just for seconds. Now it is real. I keep thinking about how he must feel, scared, but wont show it. Never being able to touch someone, talk to someone is a horrible feeling. Everytime I think about the times I spent with him through out my life I get tears in my eyes.

51 Eoin September 24, 2012 at 7:26 am

I lost my father this morning to Motor Neuron Disease (also known as ALS). He was 63 and relatively young. He always looked after himself and his family and although a man of few words, it was his actions as a father that stay fresh with me. To see him suffer and decline with a horrible illness was not fair as he lived his life right. But I can say proudly and fondly, that we spent as much time together as we possibly could. From all the things he has done for me, without question or hesitation I may add, during his illness I helped him with the same care and love he has shown for me and will continue to show for me in my heart, my mind, my memories.He lives on through me and my mother and sister and I am determined, although understandably distraught right now, to live a life that he will be proud of and I am certain that I will see him again, one beautiful day.

52 Zenon September 27, 2012 at 5:05 pm

I am losing my dad as I type this. The pain I feel only he would be able to coach me through. I don’t know why this is happening to him he doesn’t deserve a death such s this one.

He is my everything my best friend my shoulder to lean and cry on. This is just to hard to understand and accept at the same time I mean he is only 58. Within a 4 week span he went from having cancer to having 3 types of cancer, to have seizures and now to being unresponsive and pretty much in a comatose state.

I don’t know what to do. I cry every min of the day, while at times holding the tears back. I need him and I want him here. I would do anything to have one more conversation with him………..I am very much in pain and can’t take this anymore!

I love you Ta!

53 Mark October 9, 2012 at 7:39 am

I lost my Dad when I was 14 years old. My Dad died after a short but courageous battle with cancer. As I read through all the post my heart aches as I think of each loss. Whether your Dad was absent due to death or divorce or emotional detachment the loss is still great. When I lost my Dad-I cried out to God and he answered my prayer. And what I discovered was a heavenly Father who loves ne more than even my earthly Father did or could. I found the perfect Father. “A father to the fatherless..is God in his holy dwelling.” Psalms 68:5. My prayer for each of you is that you too will find what your are missing in this perfect Father.

54 thomas mofokeng October 16, 2012 at 7:14 pm

lost my dad dis past month 18/09/2012…its only been a 3weeks.dis article put me in so much lyt..indeed a part of me died wth hm..i only relyzd wen he was gone dat i did so much jst 2 make hm proud,iv lost da most imprtnt fan of my lyf…i stil rmbr dat proud look he usd 2 gv me…u huge part of me jst cnt accpt dat hz gone..wish i could cry so hard bt da tears jst aint da,da pain is jst killng me inside…i miss my dad evryday….#

55 trevor October 18, 2012 at 12:38 pm

My biggest fear is the day my dad, well both of my parents die. I never married, have no close friends and I am not close to my sister or other family members. My parents are really all I have. I have suffered from chronic medical issues since my teens and they are the only reason I have continued treatment.

My parents are wealthy and I know that when they pass on I will inherit millions of dollars but it won’t matter. without them my life will be meaningless.

56 Jonathan R young October 30, 2012 at 1:02 pm

My father passed away 9 years ago in January. I wish I had found this then. This article is dead on. I have not cried about my fathers death in a long time. I was crying like a little girl in my office.(Had to shut my door)… Thank you!! I guess I am still and always will be mourning to some degree. He was my best friend and I miss him. I was close to my son before my fathers death he was still small. But it did make me more determined to make lasting memories with my boy. Thank God for my son I don’t know if i could have made it with out him in my life. There were some very dark times… I love you Randall
Jonathan R. Young

57 Paul October 30, 2012 at 2:27 pm

I lost my father about 3.5 years ago to a heart attack after a lengthy battle with several health issues. He was 61 and I was 30. He was a leader in the community and a great role model. The long shadow is a concept I feel I know all too well. For a long time I felt like everything I had ever achieved was because of my father. I didn’t know who I was or what I could credit myself with. The idea that you instantly grow up and assume a new responsibility when you father passes is definitely true.

He hardly ever talked about himself and rarely complained about anything. Every time he met adversity and got knocked down, he always got back up. He never made excuses.

I was amazed, but shouldn’t have been surprised by the amount of letters and emails that we received that told stories about how my father had helped them.

I am grateful that I had such a great role model. I often wish I could still turn to him for guidance and advice. I also wish that my children would have had the opportunity to know him. I’m just glad I had as many good years with him as I did. Hopefully they’ll know him through the things he taught me.

58 Rocshelle November 4, 2012 at 5:26 am

I need some advice if anyone can give me some….my boyfriend just recently lost his father a week ago and his mother died when he was 10 he’s going through the grieving process I’ve never went through before or I ever dealt with before and I need to know what to do in the greatest time of his need he broke up with me and I don’t know is it because of his grieving or what I want to be there for him and want to give him a chance to grieve in his own process but I also want to be with him we were happy he still hasn’t grieved from his mom passing 18 years ago and now that is fathers is gone that he never got along with.I also fear that when the 1 person who’s been there for him who raised him his grandma passes if he dosent deal with the death of his parents now then when she goes its going to be bad for him. Please give me some feed back and advice. Even though we broke up I’m still here for him we still reside together and I think it was jus his way of pushing me away.but because of everything he is going through I jus accepted it without argument because I didn’t want to put him in a deeper

59 Sean Hensley November 5, 2012 at 7:11 pm

While I know this article is 2 years, it has been a pleasure to read last Saturday was the 9th anniversary of my dads death. I was ten when it happened and I am now 19 and in school to become a police officer. I thank you for this article because I have felt these things for years now but was never able to explain them. My father may be gone now but the things he taught me will live on. So I thank you for writing this article. R.I.P Reverend Dennis Hensley

60 CORDELL PITTS November 23, 2012 at 7:27 pm

WELL IM 29 WITH THREE KIDS OF MY OWN AND JUST GOT NEWS MY DAD ONLY HAS A COUPLE OF MONTHS TO LIVE DUE TO CANCER, BUT IM NOT GIVING UP HOPE! i love you dad

61 Tom Morrissey November 24, 2012 at 2:56 am

This article was truly spot on accurate. Wow it took me awhile to read this..since I been wiping my eyes the whole time. I been diagnosed with PTSD and have suffer from emotional numbing..this awesome article broke me down..I could relate to this all and know that I am not alone by feeling this way after 16 years of my dad dying from a long bout of esophageal cancer. Thank you tremendously for writing this article and I’ve posted on my Facebook page for my friends to read. I am so glad I came across this while browsing.

62 Jonathan November 26, 2012 at 5:48 pm

Glad I came upon this page. I lost my Dad last Wednesday, November 21. It was sudden and unexpected. This article has really helped me understand that I am not alone in the feelings I’ve been having. My Dad was 68 and I’m 31, and I still feel like I need him now just as I did when I was 11. I’m going to miss my Dad everyday, he tought me so much and I feel like if I live to be 100, I’ll never be as smart or as brave as he was.

63 duke neuman December 15, 2012 at 5:27 am

my dad died today, i am totaly lost walking around sometimes forgeting where im at.i get caught in deep thought not knowing how to get out.will this pain ever go away, feels like im in a nightmare and cant wake up.i am so scared to fall asleep, only 2 hours in 3 days or so.i really feel like he is gonna walk through the door anytime, i keep waiting. i am having real concerns about my suicidal thoughts im really scared.it seems like i am taking this the hardest out of all.im scared to be alone,like a little kid in a dark room that cant find his way out.i explode with tears out of nowhere, crying so hard i think im gonna die my self. being without him is like being without oxygen. im falling into a state of depression, i can feel it.i keep talking to him,like he is still here,asking him questions then answering the questions. i feel like im going crazy. im not sure im gonna make it. i feel like i have nothing to live for. visions of getting my dads gun.the very thought of dieing seems so much easier to deal with then the death of my dad and the pain i am going through.im trying to be strong, but its so hard.i need sleep. i hope i make it, if i dont then thank u for listening. duke neuman

64 Matthew December 16, 2012 at 3:37 pm

I’m not really sure how to phrase all this but here goes:

A couple of months ago my family ran out of money and my father disappeared while in London. I was forced to call the police and put out a missing persons – He eventually turned up and informed my mum and I that he had tried to kill himself through unloading all the insulin he was carrying into himself (Hes a diabetic). The day after he made lots of promises about how he was going to change and how he was going to look after himself and things were going to change. They changed for about a week.

He did get a new job, and spend more time with us, However this all soon went back to normal and he want back to drinking heavily and not taking care of himself. Ever since he disappeared and he has gone out since (work related stuff) I get this crushing feeling that hes never going to come back. I’ve taken to texting him so that i can know if his phone is on and he is ok (He never replies, I get the delivery notification) and the feeling escalates and escalates until I’m having a mini panic attack. I keep it all bottled up so i don’t worry my mum. The feeling only goes until he calls and tells us he is on his way home.

Today he has been drinking particularly heavily (Beer and a bottle of wine) and has suddenly become “ill” and gone to bed. He said he felt sick and wasn’t interested in food. He also gave himself a shot of Insulin before he went to bed. He’ll be ok but I can’t go on living like this – I’ve been reading all sorts of stuff about dealing with the death of parents this evening because I think i have come to the conclusion that it would be easier just to leave and never look back.

I’ve never told anybody about this, Not even my brother (He has enough to worry about) Tonight brought all those feelings of the night he went missing back, but this time I don’t feel as hopeless, just angry. I know he has to die sometime, And i’ve been thinking about every night since the night he tried to kill himself. Every time I think about it I upset myself and am forced to cast it from my mind.

I feel very very alone in this world. I have very few friends, all of whom are at Uni, My mum I don’t like to upset and my brother lives in London and has his own problems.

I needed to write all this to get it off my chest. I started to cry while reading the other articles on here but I’d like you all to know that you’re experiences are helping me. Being 21 and watching the man that you used to idolise fall apart is very difficult.

65 Nubby86 December 18, 2012 at 11:44 pm

I lost my Dad and best friend in October. I am glad he is out of pain and misery from Colon cancer. Please do not wait to have a coloscopy, we had no history in our family and by the time symptoms appeared it was too late, do not wait! The losing Dad article was a full description of where I am at. Sometimes I break down as a memory floods in and all I can do is ride the wave. Its Duck season now and I miss having Dad in the blind but I cherish the memories we have shared. I wish I could here his voice…. Dad and I were loading 357 ammo in my basement we never finished and I cannot bring myself to finish loading the rounds. I am 44 and was with Dad until he took his last breath at home, family gathered near giving comfort. Dad told me how proud he was of me and I was able to apologize for being a dumb kid at times, he said we are sqaure son no need to worry… I have had numerous events happen since his passing that assures me his is still near. I still ask him if I am doing things right, trying to fill his shoes.
Everyone who has lost a father is in a place no one else can understand, it is a hurt that cannot be explained. I love you Dad, I will take care of Mom just wait at the gate for me too.

66 Clint Codling December 20, 2012 at 6:24 pm

This is how i felt my whole life. Not even knowing my father, since his death when i was only 2, but yet it taught me many things in my own life (positive). The one great thing is like the article mention is the option of choosing who YOU want to be, and being aware of whats going on instead of just monkey see monkey do.

67 just some guy December 31, 2012 at 12:28 pm

my father, 55, was found face down and alone. No pre-existing conditions, no warning, just gone. i’m barely into my 30s and have yet to get married or start a family. i feel lost, alone and angry. I’m not sure whether to shake my clinched fist at the heavens or to curl up into a feeble little ball and cry… so numbness sets in.

68 Aiden January 7, 2013 at 12:14 am

@Matthew
For what it’s worth, I can somewhat empathize with your situation (I would never presume to say I completely know what another person is feeling). Both my father and uncle are in similar situations to your dad. I don’t have a lot of answers or advice for you though and I am sorry for that. I also don’t know if knowing you are not alone will help you in any way. If not you don’t have to read my story. But here it is just in case it helps you or anyone else.

My uncle, to whom my family is very close, has been trying to kill himself by mismanaging/neglecting his diabetes for several years; he straight up told me so. He has been in a diabetic coma several times and now lost both his legs. His children and doctors and parents and I have all tried to help him but he always slips back into doing it. I know it is crushing on his youngest son, who like you worries all the time and feels compelled to check on his dad all the time. My uncle’s oldest son hates him for it and won’t speak to him or see him and I don’t know how to help my cousin work through it; I don’t know if it’s possible as long as the situation is still happening.

I love my own father dearly, however he has been a drug addict for many years, hiding it and taking it out on our family while my mother denied everything even when it was plain in her face. It got to the point where my siblings and I decided that it was therefore in our own best interest to run damage control as much as possible and as the oldest it was always me who did it. There were not a lot of money problems (though when they happened they were spectacular) but he would disappear and the police have been involved and I had to fix everything all the time, in secret.

I am always afraid he will die suddenly. As a teenager I used to secretly follow him around town to make sure he didn’t get in trouble and die. It is very hard because he won’t admit he has a problem so I can’t just ask him how he is doing.

I moved away eventually but my sisters always called me to have me keep dealing with our dad. Then about a year ago I got married, on my own, without telling my parents, because I did not want their input. Then I went to introduce my spouse as my fiance to them so they could plan the wedding they wanted. Except they told my spouse all sorts of awful lies about me, blaming many of the family problems/experiences attributable to my parents’ dysfunction on me. They told my spouse not to marry me and to leave me. One of my sisters also felt compelled to collude in telling this story.

I found out after we left my parents. I was shocked to my core that my father (and mother) would do such a thing and it sent me into a deep depression. It also caused many problems to come to light between my spouse and I and we divorced.

**Conclusion
I do not blame my father (or mother) for the failure of my marriage; what was said about me only brought to light inherent weaknesses in my spouse and in our relationship. But since I found out what my father and mother said about me, I’ve completely stopped talking to them or to my sisters. And I can’t talk to one of my sisters even though I want to because she still lives with my parents.

I FEEL like my parents died. Whatever relationship I thought we had turned out to be false and so the parents I thought I knew don’t exist anymore. But they existed for awhile, maybe only in my head/interpretation of things, and it is that memory I hold onto and grieve for. I don’t know what happened to the dad I cared about. I look back at things now and I grieve. I long to be able to call him and ask him for advice, but now I feel that I cannot do that because seeking validation from him only ever made me vulnerable and exhausted and worried sick to no resolution or lasting reaction from him. I have read books on grieving but they don’t help much.

I used to ask my cousin, the older one who hates his dad, what he would do when his dad does inevitably die, how he would feel about not having spoken with him amicably in years. He always said he didn’t care, that he only cares about his little brother and how he deals with dad-related events. I used to be wary of this declaration but I know my cousin and never pushed it because the situation is so ambiguous.

NOW I find myself in the same situation. I don’t know if I will feel differently if my father actually dies. I don’t understand how it can be different than it is now. I wish things could be different while my dad is still living but I don’t feel like I can deal with my father’s situation any longer and not go completely insane in my own life. So I tell people my parents are “gone” and I act that way, but I think about my dad all the time and I grieve for “losing” him. My cousin and I have talked about it once and we have no new ideas or insights; we still differ because there was a version of my father who I loved and my cousin does not think there is any good to mourn regarding my uncle; I do not feel I am in a position to try to say differently because I am also very confused.

I still don’t know if it was a good idea to run damage control and keep things smooth with my parents’ problems. We were young and it was scarier to think of how my mother would react or how bad things would get if we didn’t. So I really don’t know if it’s a good idea for you to try to keep the true extent of things from your brother. But I know that when a shocking awful truth comes to light suddenly, it can be crushing. I don’t know if it would be more crushing for your brother to know what’s going on now or for it all to come out if things go worst-case-scenario. I might imagine that if he did not understand or believe the extent of what you are dealing with now–knowledge, worry, responsibilities you have taken upon yourself, etc.–he might be angry with you for not allowing him a chance to try to help you or your dad, or for giving him no warning. But I cannot say this is how it would work or even if it would be worse than not telling him now; I do not know your brother and I do not know what I think about right-to-know when it comes to deep dark family secrets. I just think fathers should avoid leaving crappy “legacies” of hurtful intrigue that may or may not come to light.

It used to be that every time my father called me high, I would have to watch the movie “Smoke Signals” through until the very end, where there is (imo) a very comprehensive, concluding monologue about forgiving our fathers for everything. I still have to watch the movie about once a month. It is the only thing that really helps. It reminds me why I love him but also why he is “gone” now.

Well that’s all I’ve got right now for empathy and insight. My heart truly goes out to you, Matthew.

69 Aiden January 7, 2013 at 1:05 am

??What to save of dad’s for infant son??

Thank you for writing this article and also for the links you included. I actually stumbled upon it because I am trying to help a child whose father died unexpectedly a few weeks ago, albeit under/following several years of unseemly circumstances. The boy is an infant right now and will probably not remember anything about his father. The widow is not doing well in that she is financially swamped and emotionally overwhelmed and detached. I am helping her as she has to move right away due to the financial issues arising from her husband’s death.

I am trying to save things for the child in case someday he wants to know about his dad. The widow is haphazard about what she plans to keep for her son and what she plans to give to her deceased husband’s friends as mementos. I can pretty much get any items I see fit to save for the child but

a) It is clear that *I* must be the one to save them for the foreseeable future and maybe someday decide when/how/whether to give them to the son
b) I have to decide what exactly to save
c) I have no idea what that should be
d) And I must act very quickly

I have familial experience with the death of a parent and the mementos children might later crave but only in the context of a mother dying and when the children were at least 10 years old. I have no idea what to do with a child this young.

What will he want to know about his father? What might he not want to know or what should I keep from him if he doesn’t learn it from someone else? What items might convey these things and should I go for a mixed-bag of the reality that dad was a fallible human being or just hang onto stuff that speaks only to a totally good image?

I am the man-on-the-ground right now; I don’t know what else the family will save that doesn’t live nearby, or what will be said or left unsaid in the years to come, or what the child will turn out like personality-wise. There is so much I don’t and can’t know but it’s now or never for saving a few things.

I tend to be inclined to saving a hodgepodge of different things that convey how much the dad loved his child and the hopes he had of raising him, I know that problems the father may have had did not diminish any of these intents. But I am also personally biased towards encouraging people to understand their parents as adults and not idols because in my life the latter option has not been possible. I figure I will present different things to the child at different ages if an element of maturity is required to safely appreciate any complexity of implications. I worry that the wrong emo music or military regalia and stories could somehow upset an angsty teenager who may or may not come to exist a decade and a half from now, or something like that…

Anyways, right now this is what I’ve done: I took some military service memorabilia that would otherwise have been tossed (sans the flag, which the widow is keeping), some figurines the father liked to build and collect, copied his Ipod collection and Ipod playlists, and convinced the widow to keep some sports-fan memorabilia and a car-themed collection the father had started for his son.

Any advice anyone has for other things I should save, potentially what I should do with them (like a shadow box or something, idk, not my area of expertise), please tell me ASAP, I will be most grateful!

70 bellz January 22, 2013 at 7:34 pm

SOMEONE ADVICE PLEASE
I have not lost my parents nor am I a male. But my bf of 3 years lost his dad about 8 moths ago and its starting to seem really hard on him. His dad was his glue his advice giver pretty much his everything. I feel like when I rry to help I make it worse. I can not relate to what he’s feeling so I cannot give him the advice he needs. I love his dad like my own… but I don’t know exactly how he feels.
What would comfort u coming from ur gf?
Should I try to comfort him?
Leave him alone?
It hurts me to see him this way

71 terry January 26, 2013 at 5:33 pm

wow
how best to articulate the first.of ..everything
the push on the swing
the rules of manhood
the way the world works
you yanks have a refreshing openness and its about bloody time you use it while people are still around,bye the way the same is true of the irish.

we will always dissapoint the parent as the parent will fail the superhero test..
but
what makes us parents is the desire to be superheros male or female and guys get off lightly in raising families
the best gift is using body parts in proportion
2 ears listen twice
1 mouth talk half as often

72 Matthew January 27, 2013 at 4:17 pm

I lost my dad 3 months ago to suicide. I am 23 years old. My father attempted to take his life when I was 16 by drinking antifreeze. This time it was a self-inflicted shotgun wound. My heart is broken apart by the death of my father. Knowing that he took his life, how miserable he was for years and years just makes it worse. Not to mention my grandfather shot himself when I was 8 years old. Suicide has been in my family and a part of my life for over 15 years. I miss my father so much; this article really hit home the feelings I have about my dad being gone. What makes it even more complicated is having to deal with the suicide aspect of it. There doesn’t seem to be much advice or counseling or reassurance for that. Not only do I miss my dad everyday, hearing his voice, seeing his face, knowing he’s just a phone call or short drive away, but my heart aches in knowing what he did and how he died. I constantly have flashbacks and reminders in my head of seeing my own father’s blood and brain fragments on the floor/wall. It drives me crazy. I am in my junior year of college, in nursing school getting my BSN RN. I feel like I don’t even have the motivation to continue on with school, I just don’t care about anything anymore. I have my mother and my fiance left here with me, and a good black lab, but nothing seems to help with the pain I feel. I am writing this in a sort of desperation, a plea, if there is anyone out there that has had to deal with their father committing suicide, please help me. Thoughts, prayers, advice, anything would be helpful. Dealing with the loss of my father is by father the hardest thing I’ve had to go thru, even more so than serving 4 years in the marine corps. I really appreciate this article and the thoughts/comments shared.

73 jose February 5, 2013 at 12:52 pm

this article felt like it was living and breathing. i don’t know how i made it through this article.

74 Phil C February 11, 2013 at 6:12 am

This is the best article I have read about how it is to lose a Dad and it should be mandatory readings for any partners of men who have lost or are losing a Dad. My Dad is dying of mesothelioma (asbestos-related cancer; in New Zealand you cannot sue. They are so backwards.) and I am at the other end of the world. I saw him at Christmas and will get out again soon but just through Skyping I can see I am losing him as he becomes so uncertain and anxious. He had such wonderful healthy with barely a day’s illness in his life. To see a proud and independent man taken down is gutting and has plunged me into depression. I wonder what the point of life is, really, when those who live honourable lives are struck down so horribly.

Thanks for the article and it is good to know I am not alone with my feelings.

75 Mark February 11, 2013 at 10:52 am

I must admit, the article has insight on most all the things I am feel at this time, although I last my father 3 years ago, the pain is still overwhelming, I know 80 years was a long life, but I can’t help to wish he was still here, currently I feel the same way as Phil C. I wonder too what the point of life is… I have a wonderful daughter and wife, and I have to keep going because of them. The same time my father was passing away my wife’s sister came down with cancer. She slowly passed away soon after my father. I have lived 45 years without baring witness to death. All of this has just left me in a constant fear of the future. I feel exactly what the article said, I now have no safety net. And there is something so final about the death thing… I sure wish things were different. But now I have to be the best father I can for my daughter. I just hate to think that she will have to go through the same when I pass. I sure hope at the end, all of this will make sense,
thanks for the article, and my sympathy to those who are living with the lose of their fathers.

76 Mark February 13, 2013 at 9:24 pm

My Dad died at 56 due to suicide by hanging. I was woken by my Mother’s screams. He had been very unwell due to mental illness. I also had got very unwell with mental illness and was diagnosed with indefinite schizophrenia and mood disorders. I lost any career motivation, started to hear voices and was put on depot injections. More recently to my sadness my Mother died due to cancer. I pray everyday for dear Sister living after cancer and all those effected by cancer.

77 Matei March 2, 2013 at 5:24 am

I’m 20, my father died 2 days ago.I had a good relationship with him, even if my parents were divorced, I used to go at his place and crash there for a few days at least once a week, he was 61 and died of liver disease, after he died, I just went on autopilot, I can’t seem to focus on anything and it’s just that I’m not sure how I feel about it and it’s very difficult for me to find any words to say about it

78 RB March 10, 2013 at 7:16 pm

My father was an old guy, died when I was 15 at the age of 65. At that time, I somehow didn’t care. No one left to judge my actions, his opinion on me was important to me. I had hard times at that age and was pretty anxious.
It is just now, about 10 years later, that I begin to feel the wish to have children myself an become a better man. And remember my old man.
Our relationship was somewhat distanced, we didn’t talk much. My parents lived separately, so I didn’t see him everyday. My mother talked always bad about him. He drank regularly, smoked a lot and was quite promiscuos.
But he was an intelligent and loved me very much for sure.
Having that in mind it hurts as hell thinking of what a jackass I have been to him. Near his end his health got much worse and when I got one time to his place he came down a few stairs crawling on all four and told me he wasn’t doing well. Instead of helping him I just said something like “oh, okay” and left.
Today is the first time I shed tears for him, 10 years later.
There are things he could have done better, and I want to be a better father.
But I felt his love and he showed me wonderful things. I can clearly see in how many ways I’m just like him. It’s no good for a man to grow up only with his mother. Especially when she hates his father. I feel sorry for all that. Can’t turn time back, but readjust my memory. Too sad there wasn’t even a grave for him, so I can’t visit. I thought about changing my last name to his (my parents weren’t married), because it would just feel right.
I don’t even have my mother’s birthname, but that of the guy she married before.
This article, as many others on this great website, brings much of importance up in me. I want to thank the author and share my sympathy with all who lost their fathers.

79 Zachary Kim March 15, 2013 at 12:29 am

Hello. I am a Korean 16 year old boy who lost his father when he was 5. At the time I really didn’t understand death and all that, but in recent years his disappearance from my family is taking its toll on me. I’m supposed to be head of the family now and my mom is becoming unbearable. She nags me and pushes me to study hard and get some scholarships and often replaces my dad with me and emotes as such since I’m the only male in the family. I understand she’s lonely and she cares about me but I wish she would let it out in a way that’s doesn’t give me stress. A failed relationship with another man left us with a baby girl and I have to act as surrogate father. And on top of that my other sister is autistic. I try to talk to mom and when I do she avoids the subject. I would have killed myself already if it weren’t for my christian faith, but its becoming really hard to just live a normal life which is really all I want. If someone can give me advice on how to cope that would be really cool.

80 Rohit Ramachandran March 22, 2013 at 9:27 am

Great read. Very touching.

81 Matt April 25, 2013 at 10:39 pm

I lost my dad about 3 years ago in a snowboarding accident. I was 15. I’ll never forget that night, waiting in the lodge wondering where he was, repeatedly calling his cell phone. Coming home and finding out the truth was probably one the hardest things i’ve faced so far and I don’t think I’ll ever be the same after that night. My advice for anyone reading this is to take things one day at time and keep your family close. They’re the only ones you’ll ever be able to really count on. Great article, I always come back to it every so often when I need it.

82 Enrique June 12, 2013 at 8:30 am

I lost my father quite early in life – he succumbed to a heart attack when I was only 11. But my short history with Dad is truly the most precious thing I own. I’m far from being wealthy but I feel so incredibly rich whenever I look back at the memories I shared with Dad.

My Dad wasn’t perfect – he certainly had his blemishes – but I was always his little shadow, his buddy in life, his little “ricky” – a nickname I proudly hold.

Dad was a typical father in that he loved his family completely and nurtured us throughout his short life. But he was also an atypical father in the sense that he treated me like an old friend. I remember it like it was yesterday – he was a physician by profession – working long hours at the hospital – yet, he always made it a point to come to my room and lie beside me and tell me (in detail) about his day. Then he would kiss me on the cheek, pat my head and told me that I was the best son the heavens ever made.

The night before he died, he came to my room as usual and told me to feign sickness and not to go to school tomorrow. He and I will be playing hookey to go the zoo and watch World war 2 movies all afternoon. He died in his sleep the following morning of a heart attack. He was 42.

And so here I am, a 51 year old man, married to the love of my life, no children of my own but have a battalion of nieces and nephews I adore, a profession I’m devoted to, yet I go through my day thinking of my father, every second, every moment of my life.

I cope with my loneliness by believing completely that Dad is watching over me, sitting inside his fabulous suite at the Marriott Hotel in Heaven, beaming with pride as I go through my day. I talk to him everyday and its comforting to know that in my heart of hearts…he hears me loud and clear.

83 Clifton July 3, 2013 at 10:28 pm

I never knew my father. He just was never in the equation. I’m actually reading this as research for a play I’m doing, in which my character briefly touches on the death of his father.

Reading this has been truly informative in terms of helping me to understand what men go through when they lose their fathers, and I thank the author and the commenters for being so open, articulate, and truthful.

Most importantly, though–I was deeply moved by much of what is written here. I felt a lot of sadness and anger because I never had a father in my life, to advise me or to counsel me or to protect me or to love me. And though I’m 30 years old, I’m just now beginning to touch upon the immense pain that that absence has caused.

Thanks so much to everyone here.

84 jitenderlal July 10, 2013 at 6:53 am

Really nice article .I am going through the same depression for my father who passed away 4 days before .I used to think i love my mother the most of all but after he is gone i feel that I love them both equally,irrespective that i gave most of my attention to my mother and always felt that father is a strongest parent so does not need too much attention.
I was with him in the hospital when he got second onset of brain haemorrhage after 3 years which was even more painfull because he was already paralyzed and couldnt speak .I could never erase the scene of his suffering in pain with haemorrhage and then a cardiac arrest . He has always loved me the most and wanted me to do the best in the family.I always wanted to make him proud but is not able to do anything to be proud so far .Right i wanted to take responsiblity of my family and to achieve something that could make him feel proud .
I really wish that everyone do take care of their fathers and make them feel proud before they decide leave the world.

85 Jay Nayyar July 13, 2013 at 10:45 am

Hey my name is jay I lost my dad after my bday in Jan.of this yr never got to say goodbye he was going downhill for a half a yr he left me a bday message on my voicemail didn’t call him back thinking he would or get w him during the WK always regret until my dying day he died before I turned 40 next Jan I’m hurting this yr turned out to be a crappy yr unlucky 2013 can’t wait for this yr to be over w so to give way to next yr. Hopefully a better one when I turn 40.

86 jane July 17, 2013 at 7:26 am

hi im a 24 year old female and my boyfriend is currently going through so much with his dad battling with cancer and I am at a loss as to what to do or how to be there for him. firstly though I would like to express my deepest condolences to all of you who have lost your loved ones and am so happy to see this website providing men with a place they can comfortably turn to – finally!

I know no one can really tell me what will happen but just as a quick background info my bf is 25 and very close with his dad. he grew up in a loving tight-knit family environment and his dad is pretty much his hero so you can imagine how hard it is for him knowing his dad has a few months left to live :(

He is also the type who withdraws and avoids any kind of confrontation etc…does not want to appear weak emotional or vulnerable so naturally he’s been pushing me away and then pulling me in… and I know he will shut me out when the inevitable happens. What can I do? He rarely talks bout it and I don’t push it… I don’t want to suffocate him but at the same time I don’t want him to think I don’t care. I’ve told him I’m here but understandably he doesn’t take much notice of those words and there are days I can see he wants to end it whereas on other days he talks about how he wants me to meet his family. .. he’s torn… so I try to let it be on his terms but from ur experiences -esp if any of u had relationships during your time of loss- what advice could u give me that might help me be a better partner or friend to him now and when his father passes? I’m so confused I’ve never been through this and it truly hurts me knowing how much pain he and his family are in. Thanks in advance to all and god bless.

87 Serafin Nunez III July 18, 2013 at 11:00 pm

My dad died in 1998 at 45 years old. I was 20. Over the next 11 years I lost three uncles and both grandfathers. It is really hard when your male role models disappear when you are just becoming a man.

88 Lewis July 19, 2013 at 6:21 pm

@Jane:
My father passed from cancer 2 and 1/2 years ago, like your boyfriend i had a close relationship with him and have lots of good memories.
My advice to you would to make sure that he knows you are there for him.
When it happened to me, i was at work and got “the phone call” to get over to the hospital asap.
My girlfriend at the time was planning on leaving me, so she was distant and not interested in anything whilst i was going through one of the hardest periods of my life.
Make sure that you are there for your boyfriend and remind him about it, remember though, he is going to need some space, some peace of his own to work through things.
Just make sure that he knows you support him and let him work through.

89 Brad Chambon July 30, 2013 at 3:09 pm

My father passed away 5 months ago and I still have days where for whatever reason I am really depressed and aware of how much I miss him. It is a kind of rollercoaster where for a few days I will be fine, and then I will have a day where I’m depressed about it. And sometimes when I am feeling happy I realize it is because I have temporarily stopped thinking about my dad and then I feel guilty. I know this is all a normal part of the healing process, but that does not make it any easier.

90 M August 5, 2013 at 9:38 pm

Tim W – my father sounds a lot like yours. Not everyone has great parents. You’re doing an excellent job with your own son though, well done.
Don’t worry about what comes later. When my dad died I was perfectly OK because I had faced reality, like you.

91 Paul August 15, 2013 at 10:02 am

My father passed away 9 months ago. It was sudden, but he had been battling multiple medical issues for the previous 12 years. Recently over the last couple months, I feel like my emotions are out of control and I could not figure out why. One moment I would want to be alone, the next I was my normal self. My short temper was extremely short. One thing would set me off and ruin the rest of the day. It took my wife telling me how unhappy she was for me to look deeper. I stress about everything. I didn’t want to deal with responsibility as it just triggered my stress even more. I thought I was done grieving. I went to see a counselor only for him to determine that I wasn’t. I am now trying to fill a void in my life left by my father’s death and trying to determine how to fill it. I have always been the rock of my family including when he was battling his health issues. Now I have to redefine who I am, what I want, where I want to go, and determine how I want to get there. It has majorly affected the relationship with my teenage daughter which in turn has majorly affected my marriage. Are any of you dealing with this? I am in the infant stages of correcting it with the assistance of a counselor, but as described in the article, having others to confide in who are dealing with this also would be extremely helpful.

92 Ferdinand serrano October 7, 2013 at 11:58 pm

This made me cry, i still have my old man alive but i always think that he day he pases away i dont know what im going to do, i owe him so much he always played, with me when i was a child gave me advices, take me to fair, get in rides with me watch baseball with me . Im 22 now and im in the us and hes in puerto rico with my mom i miss him every day of my life and i thank god he gave me a dad like him

93 Owen October 8, 2013 at 2:51 am

Hello, I am 20 and lost my dad 9 months ago. This article was very accurate for me, mostly the part about how the person who gave you advice and how you feel vulnerable and afraid without him. I was wondering if anyone had advice on how to cope with these issues rather than just acknowledging they exist because I am finding it extremely difficult to deal with this anxiety and emotional void.

94 Robin October 20, 2013 at 3:28 am

Wow, it’s great to read an article and hear people’s stories that have travelled down the same turf as myself. Like Phillip commented – I too lost my dad at an early age and only now, at 25, am I starting to see how deep it gets with how a father truly defines a man.

–My Story–
I had seem my dad just a few minutes after his death when I was 3yrs old, and though I didn’t understand death at that age, the delayed-onset hardships have been intense. My mother was very strong about it and was able to uphold herself taking care of three children, and remarried to my (now) stepfather a year later which also provided a better financial position.

My stepfather also experienced the unexpected death of his wife which was extremely hard on him, and I feel it impaired his ability to be a father figure for my brothers and I. I had problems with his ‘tough love’ approach, as I wanted to have a father figure and I was thinking along the lines of “who is this dickhead and why’s he bossing me around? He’s not my ‘dad’”. I respect and understand him now, but he *never* had father-son time with me, never did activities that I liked, and really just scared me as I was already predisposed to being vulnerable from my dad’s death. I viewed it as my lucky chance of having a father again, but realized I was at another loss. I grew up avoiding traits of his tougher personality, and when I would cry, or try to talk about my feelings, I didn’t ‘get’ why he wouldn’t show any love and just act tough. To him, crying wasn’t something that men display and that I should toughen up. To me, being ‘tough’ was congruent with a ‘lack of love’. Now being an adult, I more clearly understand things from his perspective and respect him and his shortcomings as a stepfather, and understand that he did love me, but has a very traditionalist manly personality and was raised not to display it.

Anyway, as a result of my dad’s death I’ve been quite insecure and have a weak sense of identity, which is why I recently subscribed to this blog. I got heavily into drugs and really had no self-respect, but only now, at 25, am I beginning to become, and even understand the wisdom behind being a man. I recently kicked heroin and it’s been hard recovering both financially and emotionally, but I’m grateful it’s been a good ass-kicking in terms of self-growth and am keeping an optimistic outlook. I share a lot of interests with my dad, so I often go hiking, bird-watching, and play guitar to commemmorate and even represent him through myself.

– Reply’s to comments + Advice –
I wish I had time to reply to everyone – but must keep it brief.

Clifton, Phillip, Enrique – You guys rock and it’s really the first time having any form of communication to people that have gone through similar things. It’s interesting how there’s a delay in understanding the entire spectrum of what it’s like to lose a dad at such an age that you don’t/barely remember him.

Jane & bellz – As previously mentioned, just being there for them and loving them is all they need, and it’s clear (and honourable) that you care given yr posts. To them, part of who they are was tampered with and they need to adjust to accepting it, and it’s not something anybody but them and their brothers will truly understand. The biggest and most important favor you can do is simply there for once they’ve better adjusted, give them a big hug when they need it, and don’t distract or get frustrated with him – even if it takes a while.

Mark [Feb.13] – Man, that’s harsh dude, I wish all three of you guys the best. I understand how confusing and deluded the world can be during times from psychotic episodes, though from addiction and not from schizophrenia. If you’re open to my recommendation, regularly meditating may help tremendously as it allows you temporarily drop past worries & insecurities , which encourages recovery. Good luck!

Here’s a link to my email for anybody that wants to talk -> http://goo.gl/4xfsae

95 stephanie October 22, 2013 at 11:54 pm

Thank you for another inspiring post.
To those who have lost your fathers, never met your fathers, or are loosing your fathers I give you my deepest condolences.

I am a female, sorry for infiltrating. I am father-less, my Mom has told me my hole life he doesn’t want me… He is alive and I have contacted him, it was strange and I know now at 26 that the pain of wanting to be pretty enough for my father or good enough for him will never truly be requited. For those of you who are fathers to daughters, your presence in her life is something no one else will be able to fill. She will have confidence to become a graceful woman, full of vibrancy and tenacity for her foundation because of you. Thank you
I have been dating my boyfriend for a year, and I can say I don’t know how I thought anything else was the way it was supposed to be. He is so good to me.
I am writing this post because he lost his father when he was 11. His family are tea-totalers, very stanch christian, they’re very sweet please don’t take those statements the wrong way. He refused to go inside the visitation and refused to leave the house for the funeral. His family tended to not step in for the positive actions of fatherhood, but rather were only present for reprimanding him.
Through his teens, twenties, and thirties he spent his life rebelling against authority, acting out toward his mother, and quitting or being fired for not taking direction well.
I worry because he turns 40 this year and I see that there are still left over wounds that have not healed yet. He is so talented and intelligent and lord a little bit cocky but yet so insecure deep down. He is more willing to pee his pants for comedy sake than to gracefully complete duty to maintain dignity and well lets face it employment and success.
I know that I can’t fix this for him, I just don’t know what to do. I want him to see the potential for strength and pride I see in him. I wish that for him time and time again.
I want to fall into him and rely on him and not worry that when life pulls he might not be able to push.
If there is any advice out there, please feel free to chime in.

96 Steve W. October 24, 2013 at 3:38 pm

Very grateful for this article. I am feeling alone and afraid. He was my go to guy for just about everything. Could always count on him for good advice and encouragement. I am 36 years old and am pretty much self sufficient but ya not being able to call him and brag every once in a while of myself or my kids is going to be hard because he really is the only person I feel I could do that with. It’s hard because I will be going a long fine at work or home and something will remind me of him and I just want to weep. Can’t at work or in front of the kids. It makes my kids sad so I bottle it up and cry at night after my family has gone to bed. It’s satisfying though when I teach something to my kids that was taught to me by my father. He does live on in those moments but I also know it is final. I am having nightmares at night waking up to this question “have I prepared my children enough for this world. have I taught them enough for them to stand on their two feet when it comes time, have I been a good father?” I am struggling…but doing a little bit better after reading this article…so thanks. This has helped…it made me cry but that’s a good thing.

97 Akhil October 25, 2013 at 7:05 am

My dad passed away on 2nd Aug (at 71), he was a GOD to me.
Considering, this that he loved me sooo much that my one act of defiance (marrying a girl he disapproved of) gave him a heart attack, and yet he lived on and battled his failing heart (for 40 odd days) to see me get married to the same girl I chose ! I got married on 1st Aug and same night he breathed his last. He died peacefully… But I could give away my thousand lives to get him here again.

98 Pat S. October 29, 2013 at 5:44 pm

Great, thought provoking article. I lost my Dad suddenly in August 2001. That year, providentially and I believe as prompted by the Lord, my wife suggested a very last minute visit by us and our sons to my parents on the East Coast. She said “Your parents are getting older, we don’t know how long they will be around.” Little did anyone know that less than 2 weeks after our arrival Dad would pass.

The passage that gave me a tightening in the throat was: “Sons will often feel the presence of their father when they use skills that they learned from him, visit places associated with him, or use his possessions.” I have few of my Dad’s possessions, but I cannot garden, he was a prolific garden grower, without constantly being reminded of him and his honor of hard work. Painting brings Dad to mind, I recently painted the exterior of the house and reviewed many of the lessons on that task he taught me, as I labored at that menial but gratifying task. A recent bricklaying project brought to mind some of my proudest moments of getting to mix concrete and mortar for a project with Dad back in about 1968.

When my Dad passed, as I noted before in life, I recalled the unfairness of life going on unabated in the midst of our grief. Since Dad’s passing I have made it a habit of sending sympathy cards to anyone I am friends or even acquaintances with when they lose a close family member. Mom’s passing several years later only reinforces the feelings first felt with my Dad’s death.

Best wishes to other men who are now, or will later, follow this path of sorrow some of us already have traveled.

99 michael wong November 4, 2013 at 1:09 pm

i lost my dad to bowel failure it was so sudden, he was a man who made a difference in this world. he work so hard as a man to look after us children. Yes i feel so lost without him and need him so much now in life to talk to. 2 years ago he died, i have a daughter that does not live me as i went through a terrible divorce left not able to cope with not living with her . thats been 2 big loses in a short time and it does not stop there the year i got married dad died.to and our date my new wife of 2 years had the bad news of cancer its been a terrible year .our life together is falling apart and im sure it will. so with all of this i wished dad was here to help me i pray and ask him to help me through this i am at a end what next. i do cry alone . alot in two years and dad has gone yes its a lonely world the is no best man it the world my dad will always be my best man . hay god bless our dads .

100 JR November 16, 2013 at 11:39 pm

my dad died 2 months ago.. I lived under his shadow for 40 years.., but it was very comfortable under there.. now out in the direct glare of life I feel very wobbly.. my biggest regret is not being “real” with him.. I should have told him how felt about things, when I was happy, proud, mad, disappointed.. we were too cool to show any emotion whatsoever.. never one time did him or I say we loved each other.. I wanted to many many times.., didn’t want to make him or me uncomfortable… I wish I had anyway.. seems so stupid now..

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