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Author Topic: Help? How do you deal with losing a parent?
Member # 9191

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I don't post a lot but I'm hoping someone out there might have a suggestion that will work for me...

A while ago I posted a thread about my father being diagnosed with cancer (Cancer Experiences). In February, his condition was determined to be a lost cause. The chemo wasn't working and his body was too weak to handle anything else. We all did the best we could as far as being there for him. Everyone flew home to see him and spend time together. He was able to see and hold his grandson for the first time.

At the beginning of March, I received a phone call from my sister saying that he was unable to walk and was losing control of this limbs. I flew home as soon as possible. I left Seattle that Wednesday morning and arrived in Hawaii at about 1 pm. When I got home, I was greeted by all of my immediate family and we just cried. By the time I had gotten hom, my father was no longer responding to us. He couldn't even blink to acknowledge that he had heard us. We all sat around his bed and talked. A few hours later, his breathing became shallow and rapid. We all gathered what strength we had to take turns telling him how we felt and things we all had been waiting to say. Being the youngest, I went last. Just a couple minutes after I had finished talking, he passed away.

This is the first time for my family dealing with someone close to us passing. I'm thankful that I was home in time but I wish I could have spent more time with him. I'm glad it was painless but that doesn't help the fact that he's gone. It's been over a week but sometimes it doesn't seem real. I left home because I couldn't stand the feeling that he might walk through the door or that he was just asleep in the room, just to be reminded by the look on everyones faces that it was real.

Being away from all of the tell-tale signs, I feel detached from it all. It makes me feel worse because why would being in a different place numb my feelings? The emotions are all still there, just muted and put aside. Here, I feel as if crying is not an option. Not that people here don't understand, but that if I were to start crying, it's not the first thing they'd think of. I'd be asked 'What's wrong?' or 'Did something happen?' It's not something I want to explain over and over. Even to those who know about it. How many times are you 'allowed' to cry about it? Why even ask what's wrong? What else can I do but cry? I know I have to let him go but I'm still allowed to miss him, right?

I figured it'd help if I kept myself occupied with work and whatnot. Call home as often as I can... but other than that? How do people cope with a parent passing? I honestly don't know what to do with myself.

[ March 18, 2007, 12:32 PM: Message edited by: Squish ]

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You're allowed to cry as many times as you need to. You're allowed to miss him forever, he'll always be your father. And it's completely natural that being in a different place would give you a level of detachment, it's not as "real" somewhere else, where everyone else isn't also grieving, where it didn't actually happen, and where you don't associate so many things with your father. The first couple of times you go back to visit, though, expect it all to come flooding back, because part of numbing the grief by leaving is probably also just delaying it. Which is okay, some people do better taking it in smaller doses.

I don't have any specific advice as to how to cope, I think it's an individual thing. I would say to talk a lot to people there who care about you, tell them stories about your Dad and talk about how you're feeling. They won't mind, and it will probably help. I cry until I feel cried out. But it is a big deal, and it will take some time to deal with, and that's just fine. Don't let anyone tell you you should be 'over it', that's just bullshit. Take the time you need, and take care of yourself, too.

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Of course you're allowed to miss him. And you're "allowed" to cry about it until you feel like you don't need to anymore.

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Member # 1104

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The world changes when you lose a parent. It's not that you "get over it" so much as you become accustomed to the new norm, I think. My father has been dead for almost 13 years, and my mother for 2 1/2 and I still miss them. I wish I could still talk to them about things.

The only thing you can do right now is keep breathing, and just go on living your life. I think it helps to have friends who know what you're going through. The support of friends who have lost their parents was really helpful to me. They told me it takes "a year and a change" to really go through the process, and that felt true to me.

You might also look into grief couselling, which can be really helpful, especially if you are physically distant from a lot of your family or support systems.

A parent's death is both painful and transformative, and I feel for anyone having to go through it. I still feel it, sometimes. As time goes on, though, you'll be better able to remember the good things without feeling the grief all over again. (((Squish))) In the mean time, let yourself feel what you feel. It's okay, really.

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Hang in there Squish. It's a difficult time, so make sure you take it easy on yourself. My dad just died a few years ago, and I still don't like to dwell on it, but you just have to keep moving on. Try to spend time with supportive people, and do things that you enjoy. It's easy to slip into depression. All you can really do is deal with each day as it comes, and don't be afraid to ask for help from people who care about you if you need it.
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Telperion the Silver
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My heart goes out to you. I lost my Mom suddenly almost two years ago. The whole event was very tramatic/confusing and still is in many ways. It's your Dad. He deserves to be greived for. Feel whatever you want to feel. You don't need permission from anyone.


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Storm Saxon
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I have nothing to say other than what's been said. Be well.
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Mighty Robot Lords
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(((Squish))). I can add nothing more than you are in my thoughts at this terrible time.
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I lost my mom 12 years ago, to leukemia. I was living away from home at the time (married, kids, job, etc), but still in the same state (NY). She fought bravely for a year or so, but, as with your dad, eventually the cancer was too much.

But you DID get to talk to him. You did get to say good-bye, and to let him know you love him. And if you were at home all the time, then you would have had more time with him. BUT (and this is a very important BUT!) by not being home, you also let him know that you were able to leave the nest and make a life on your own. As a parent (more so as a dad), I know--that is also incredibly important.

So, realize that you did all the right things. Don't beat yourself up for what you might have missed. No one's perfect, everyone "forgets" to say something, or do something. Some don't even show up (I wouldn't know what to say to them...probably nothing).

And as far as crying...cry as much as you want. Your friends will understand, and who cares what the rest think! You'll have a lot of time to come to terms with whatever his loss means to you. If you think about it, and grieve, and talk to friends (IRL, BTW), then you'll probably be OK.

And ((((hugs))))))...


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I'm sorry for your loss, Squish. And I'm glad you got the chance to say goodbye. I've been there. Still tear up from time to time, and it's been eight years. The pain lessens, but I think the "missing" stays. It's okay. Cry when you need, laugh when you want, and don't be afraid to reach out to folks. Here's a hug. (((Squish)))
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Thanks for all of the kind words and advice. I needed to have someone tell me those things. All of my friends here haven't gone through the same thing so it feels like no one knows what to say aside from the usual 'How are you doing?', which is such a difficult question to answer).

I guess mainly it seems hard since I feel like I'm very young for something like this to happen (23 yrs). I understood it was going to happen, but I just assumed it'd be later on in my life. But I'll keep doing what I've been doing and hope that it'll get easier with each day.

Thanks again everyone. Hugs to all.


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I'm so sorry for your loss. I don't have much advice to give, because I can't begin to understand how you feel right now. However, I do believe that you shouldn't worry about having the "right" reaction to it all. What you feel is what you feel, and it's okay. It's okay to feel sad and cry. It's okay to feel numb. It's okay to be angry. It's okay to laugh and remember the joyful times with him. And it's okay to express all of those emotions openly.

I wish you the best.

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It sucks to lose someone you love. [Frown] I'm sorry for your loss.
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Sorry for your loss, Squish.

The only advise I can give is to not burden yourself with guilt for the muted reaction (as has been said). My reaction to my grandfather's death (whom I loved very much but did not see except when I occasionally visited my hometown) was similar in that sense.

Take care.

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Squish, I understand what you mean about being young. I was just past my 24th birthday when my father died, very suddenly. No time for goodbyes or anything. There are regular posters here who lost a parent when they were in their teens. We really do understand.

I went through a period where I would get angry when I heard people gripe about their parents, or even just casually mention going somewhere with them. It didn't seem fair. I think I've kind of learned to accept that it's good to be grateful for the time you had, and not obsess about it as much.

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(((squish)))) It's beautiful that your love for your father is so strong.
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I have nothing meaningful to contribute but wanted to express my condolances. I'm very sorry you lost your father.
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I lost my Dad 28 years ago in April. Sometimes I still cry for him.

Since then I have lost a number of loved ones, some expected, some sudden.

It hurts, terribly, often for a long time. It is the first thing you think of when you wake up, the last thing you think of when you go to sleep, and sometmes you even dream about it.

For a while to think about him in any context hurts, and brings sadness, you can feel it like a string of fire or ice around your chest or your throat.

Sometimes you feel angry, at him, at yourself, at everyone, at no one. Little things will remind you, and the rest of the day or evening will be tainted. Sometimes you will want to remember and think about it, no matter how much it hurts. Sometimes you will want to do anything to get it out of your mind.

And one morning, I'm sorry I don't know when, you will wake up, and it won't be one of the first things you think of. And at some point when you think of him you'll smile at least for a second, even if the pain follows. And a while after that, you'll find that although thinking of him makes you a little sad, that there is also happiness in your memories. And you will even be able to talk about him, and to tell other people about him.

I do not know how long it might take. It may be sooner than you hope, but it could also be a long while. I wish I could tell you.

I hope that it does not take a long time for you. I hope that you feel the love and hopes and prayers that all the people who care for you, including here at Hatrack are sending your way.

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For reference, my father died of cancer close to two years ago. I was 24.

I feel detached from it all.
From my experiences coping with death -- of which there have been altogether too many -- this is normal. Other people grieving always seemed to feel things harder, or more, than I did. Or at least, more visibly. I remember a song from back when I was a teenager and one of my best friends was killed in a car accident, called A Question of Faith (I was an agnostic then and am an atheist now). Two snippets stuck with me. The first was "How could I be this close and not go through what I'm supposed to?" The second was "I can't comprehend why I'm not feeling sentimental / is it a question of my faith?"

I never did figure it out, but I've found that the feeling of numbness you describe just seems to be how my grieving process works; I stay in denial for a long time. It's probably just how yours works, too, and it may not be the distance -- you might easily be feeling the same way if you'd been there. As you grieve, I think the fact that you got to say goodbye will help you. Not having regrets about my relationship with my father has been a huge help for me in terms of coping with losing him.

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I'm sorry for your loss, Squish.

I lost my mother to a cereberal hemmorhage about ten years ago. I remember feeling numb, and feeling like everything had a sense of unreality to it. It was weeks before my grief caught up with me- I was with my father and two of her friends, and the wrongness of her absence struck us all suddenly and painfully.

It helped me then to write what I was feeling down. I don't know if that would help you or not. It allowed me to accept how I felt in the moment and feel that I was honoring my mother by recording the time of her passing.

You'll find your way through. It will take time.

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Glenn Arnold
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My father died of leukemia in 1978. I was 14. At the time, I was living with my biological father, who refused to let me go home for the funeral.

I still miss him. I'm still angry at some of the things he did that he'll never be able to rectify (and that may have been caused by his reaction to the disease). I still love him.

He did a pretty good job of dying. When he knew he wasn't going into remission again he called everybody he knew to say goodbye. He had an ugly toilet that worked installed in place of the pretty toilet that didn't.

On the day he died, he cut down the tree my mother didn't like that they had argued over because he didn't want it cut down.

Then he came inside, and made a tape recording of all the silly songs he used to sing, and the jokes he used to tell, and a couple of serious songs.

Then he did 23 pushups, took a nap and died of a stroke. He didn't want to linger, but he didn't want to commit suicide either.

I'm crying as I write this. I think I need to go listen to the tape.

Don't throw away mementos. That's my advice. I've seen people try to throw away everything that would remind them of a person and make them sad. But you still get sad. That's when you need a part of the one you love, so you can hold onto just a little bit of them.

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I'm sorry Squish. [Frown]

My grandfather died last night, and the hardest part is seeing my Mum trying to cope with it.

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Squish, I'm sorry.

My mother died suddenly when I was twenty. I think I was numb from shock for at least six months afterwards. I come to strong emotions very slowly - slow to love, slow to grieve. You may not know how you handle this yet - this is your first experience. However you do it is fine. It may take a very long time for it to really hit you.

One of the things I had to learn was how to be myself in a world where I was no longer some mother's daughter. Not only did I lose my mom, but my relationship with everyone else in my life changed, especially with my dad and brothers. I didn't know that was going to happen.

When a parent dies, the world never really is the same. You don't go back to normal, but you find a new normal. This might take a long time.

I'm so sorry, Squish. *hugs*

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Squish, I'm so sorry. I lost my father about 7 months ago, but I'm a lot older than you, and I do think that makes a difference. Don't worry about the numbness, don't worry about what you "should" feel, just let yourself be who you are and feel what you feel. I'm glad you and your family were able to be there with him; I know that made a big difference for our family.

Imogen, I'm sorry for the loss of your grandfather as well.

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My sincerest condolences to those who have also lost loved ones. I truly respect all of you for the strength that it takes to go through something so life-changing. I'm wary of the thought that this is just the beginning of yet another drastic change in my life and in me. Being in the middle of it all, it seems like it'll be stuck like this forever. After reading all these posts, I feel like I understand the situation (as far as my own feelings go) a little better. It helped so much to see what others felt when these situations occur. Thank you for all of the hugs and thoughts.
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I went through a period where I would get angry when I heard people gripe about their parents, or even just casually mention going somewhere with them.
I can relate. I semi-dated a girl in high school who kept referring to her mother as "Satan" and constantly talked about how much she hated her. As far as I could tell, she was just a regular mom, even from what the girl told me from her own point of view. Every time she made some disparaging comment about her mom, I cringed and wanted to yell at her for how much of a spoiled bitch she was.

This is because I lost my mom at age 11 (my mother was 43).

I also lost my dad just a few years ago, at age 21. He was 49 years old.

When a parent dies, the world never really is the same. You don't go back to normal, but you find a new normal. This might take a long time.
I agree with this. A large part of our sense of "self" seems to be in relation to our parents. Losing one can send that sense of self into a tailspin. Especially, I think, when you are young and haven't had the time to define yourself as you mature.

In the end I think I am a stronger person than who I was before my father's death. The journey from there to here was not easy, however.

And everyone grieves differently. No way is any "better" than any other way. (I myself chose to escape from reality through books and computer games.)

With all the ways of grieving in mind, one thing to take into account is that most people will treat you as if you are grieving the same way they would be grieving.

Some people like to be alone, some like to always be around other people. Some like to talk everything out, some like to never bring up the person lost in conversation again. Some like to have all the responsibilities taken from them, some need to keep themselves occupied.

From what I've seen, this can lead to some people getting very offended, especially the one who is grieving.

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Counter Bean
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I usually start with the place I saw them last and try to retrace my steps...
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