I’ve lost a lot of family members in my 26 years. My older brother died when I was just 13 years old, and I never knew my grandparents while they were coherent or mentally stable. All of that didn’t quite prepare me for what happened when my Dad died two years ago, though — and I don’t think anything ever really could.
My pops died in his sleep, the result of a lifetime of drinking, smoking, and stress finally catching up to him. For my part, I was glad that he died peacefully — I had always worried that he would develop cancer, and die a slow and painful death. No matter how much of a pessimist he had been in his life, I loved my father dearly, because I knew he loved me (even if he didn’t usually know how to show it).
Two years on, now, I still wonder what it would be like to have him here, what we might have missed out on together. Grief works through different people in different ways, and this is a bit of what it’s been like for me:
1. I didn’t cry as much as I thought I might, and this has been tremendously difficult — feeling as if I don’t even have emotions that work anymore.
2. My father and I bonded over music. Now, whenever I hear a new song that I really enjoy, a sadness comes with it because I won’t be able to share it with him.
3. Only one person currently in my life got to meet my Dad; for everyone else I ever tell him about, he’ll just be a story.
4. Mom didn’t handle it well, at all. She was with another guy two months after his death, and seems determined now to tell me how bad of a guy my Dad was (P.S. I’m not buying it).
5. Dad dying put an end to any delusions about having had a happy home life. Now, it’s my turn to go through my own emotions about a childhood that was more difficult than I ever remembered.
6. Listening to other people talk to their parents, or about their parents, I usually decide to just leave the room instead.
7. Some days, I still wake up thinking I might get an e-mail from him with a new song to listen to.
8. Honoring my Dad’s wishes to take care of myself, and pursue what I’ve wanted to do with my life, has put a huge stress on my own poorly-developed life skills.
9. I’m more drawn to all sorts of religions, though I’m pretty sure that’s just a rather elaborate way to make up for not having my own father there to guide me.
10. Every once in a while, looking over a lake like we used to do together, I wonder if he’ll come around the corner and take a seat next to me.
My father’s death changed my life when it happened, and continues to change me today. One day, I hope to be able to tell my children how good of a man their grandfather was, and how much he meant to me.
This article was inspired by one originally found here.