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  1. #1

    Dealing with the loss of a Father

    My father who was 85 years old died 3 weeks ago and left both a big hole as well as a wonderful understanding of life!
    Dad was born on May 14, 1920 in Northern Manitoba Canada. He moved out West with the rest of his family when he was 5 years old. He left home at the age of 17 and worked hard to put his siblings through school and was a self-employed company owner most of his life. Being a logger, he looked at death countless times and turned it away but Parkinson’s and age won the battle and now he is at peace. I am the third of 4 children he raised and I feel like I not only lost the best dad in the world, I feel that I lost my best friend.

    I am a counselor myself, with a BS in Psychology. I have been a mental health counselor for 35 years and have dealt with people who have lost loved ones, wanted to kill themselves and had been abused. I thought I knew everything there was to know about grief. Some of what I knew turned out to be great but I also learned some very important new stuff that I feel I need to pass on especially about dealing with the loss of a father.

    1. As hard as it is, it is very important to spend as much time going through the final days and hours of their lives. My siblings and myself were with dad through out the entire process. We are lucky enough to all live and work in the same town as dad lived. We saw him in pain, we saw him depressed, and we also had the opportunity to let him know how much we loved him. With the exception of our sister, none of us had felt we needed to tell dad that we loved him, we knew or rather believed he already knew. Believe me, this is important cause when your loved one breathes his or her last, you truly understand how final death really is. Be there if at all possible or at a minimum, get the message to your loved one that you love them.

    2. The real pain does not come until all the services, and funeral stuff is over. When all the "well wishers" go home, you suddenly find yourself feeling very alone. You need to talk about your feelings. I was very lucky to have a loving wife, a sister and two brothers to share my pain with. This is a very important part of the whole grieving process. Share how you feel.

    3. Tears are good. Believe me, I could have filled a swimming pool by now if I saved mine. It is commonly believed (especially by the male sex) that tears are a sign of weakness. They are not.

    4. Let go. You have to say it is all right. The way life works, we will all have to face that day when we die. It is ok to die. It is just as much a part of life as being born. Let go.

    Yesterday, it fell to me to be the one to go to dads house and pack up his personal belongings. I was alone at the house for about 4 hours. I laughed and cried as I packed away his trinkets, pocket knives and such and I kept some of the things that meant something to me as well as laid aside in specific boxes things that I knew my siblings would like to keep. For me, it was what most would consider silly but to me they were important. I kept his compass cause a compass gives direction. My dad gave me my direction. I kept his maps of places he had visited and read about. I kept his stones. Dad had a hobby of picking up and saving stones from every place new he visited. I have those now and will pass them on someday to my children.

    Dad only had 3 years of formal education but he was the wisest man I have ever met. Saying goodbye was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do but I know that he is still with me, if not in body, in spirit. I am not religious but I do have a strong spiritual side. I know that the wisdom he gained with his 85 years has been passed on to us four kids and I sincerely hope this post helps anyone who has been through a similar experience.

    I thought I knew how to help people with the grieving process. I knew some of it, I knew the steps but now I have felt the feelings and can better help others.

    dennis

  2. #2

    Dealing with the loss of a Father

    My father who was 85 years old died 3 weeks ago and left both a big hole as well as a wonderful understanding of life!
    Dad was born on May 14, 1920 in Northern Manitoba Canada. He moved out West with the rest of his family when he was 5 years old. He left home at the age of 17 and worked hard to put his siblings through school and was a self-employed company owner most of his life. Being a logger, he looked at death countless times and turned it away but Parkinson’s and age won the battle and now he is at peace. I am the third of 4 children he raised and I feel like I not only lost the best dad in the world, I feel that I lost my best friend.

    I am a counselor myself, with a BS in Psychology. I have been a mental health counselor for 35 years and have dealt with people who have lost loved ones, wanted to kill themselves and had been abused. I thought I knew everything there was to know about grief. Some of what I knew turned out to be great but I also learned some very important new stuff that I feel I need to pass on especially about dealing with the loss of a father.

    1. As hard as it is, it is very important to spend as much time going through the final days and hours of their lives. My siblings and myself were with dad through out the entire process. We are lucky enough to all live and work in the same town as dad lived. We saw him in pain, we saw him depressed, and we also had the opportunity to let him know how much we loved him. With the exception of our sister, none of us had felt we needed to tell dad that we loved him, we knew or rather believed he already knew. Believe me, this is important cause when your loved one breathes his or her last, you truly understand how final death really is. Be there if at all possible or at a minimum, get the message to your loved one that you love them.

    2. The real pain does not come until all the services, and funeral stuff is over. When all the "well wishers" go home, you suddenly find yourself feeling very alone. You need to talk about your feelings. I was very lucky to have a loving wife, a sister and two brothers to share my pain with. This is a very important part of the whole grieving process. Share how you feel.

    3. Tears are good. Believe me, I could have filled a swimming pool by now if I saved mine. It is commonly believed (especially by the male sex) that tears are a sign of weakness. They are not.

    4. Let go. You have to say it is all right. The way life works, we will all have to face that day when we die. It is ok to die. It is just as much a part of life as being born. Let go.

    Yesterday, it fell to me to be the one to go to dads house and pack up his personal belongings. I was alone at the house for about 4 hours. I laughed and cried as I packed away his trinkets, pocket knives and such and I kept some of the things that meant something to me as well as laid aside in specific boxes things that I knew my siblings would like to keep. For me, it was what most would consider silly but to me they were important. I kept his compass cause a compass gives direction. My dad gave me my direction. I kept his maps of places he had visited and read about. I kept his stones. Dad had a hobby of picking up and saving stones from every place new he visited. I have those now and will pass them on someday to my children.

    Dad only had 3 years of formal education but he was the wisest man I have ever met. Saying goodbye was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do but I know that he is still with me, if not in body, in spirit. I am not religious but I do have a strong spiritual side. I know that the wisdom he gained with his 85 years has been passed on to us four kids and I sincerely hope this post helps anyone who has been through a similar experience.

    I thought I knew how to help people with the grieving process. I knew some of it, I knew the steps but now I have felt the feelings and can better help others.

    dennis

  3. #3
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    Dealing with the loss of a Father

    I don't know exactly how you are feeling, Dennis, but I have been on a similar road.

    The concept of "legacy" is one that has helped me and some of my clients a great deal. I talk about it in this article on grief with sudden death... you may find that helpful too.

  4. #4
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    Dealing with the loss of a Father

    I don't know exactly how you are feeling, Dennis, but I have been on a similar road.

    The concept of "legacy" is one that has helped me and some of my clients a great deal. I talk about it in this article on grief with sudden death... you may find that helpful too.

  5. #5
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    Dealing with the loss of a Father

    I lost my grandfather a few years ago, as well. I think what helps me is to remember the good times and to realize that those good times will never die. They'll live in my memories of him. He is still here, with me, in my heart and in my memories. Knowing that, I'm able to realize how blessed I was to have him for the 83 years he lived. That makes me smile. :-)

  6. #6
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    Dealing with the loss of a Father

    I lost my grandfather a few years ago, as well. I think what helps me is to remember the good times and to realize that those good times will never die. They'll live in my memories of him. He is still here, with me, in my heart and in my memories. Knowing that, I'm able to realize how blessed I was to have him for the 83 years he lived. That makes me smile. :-)

  7. #7
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    Dealing with the loss of a Father

    It often takes time to be able to remember the happy times but eventually that is the key to resolving grief - to focus on life, not death.

  8. #8
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    Dealing with the loss of a Father

    It often takes time to be able to remember the happy times but eventually that is the key to resolving grief - to focus on life, not death.

  9. #9
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    Dealing with the loss of a Father

    Dennis,

    I am sorry for your loss, and can appreciate some of the feelings you may be experiencing as I lost my mother at the age of 87, two years ago. My mother too had only three years of formal education, and was a very wise and compassionate person.

    The memories of her life bring me joy now that the sorrow has passed. As you know, the sorrow does pass with time, and the wonderful memories remain.

    My screen saver contains some photos of mother, which is one way I can enjoy her memory.

    Consider keeping one of your Dad's trinkets in your pocket, so you can enjoy a connection with his memory every day.

    Thanks for sharing your experience.

  10. #10
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    Dealing with the loss of a Father

    Dennis,

    I am sorry for your loss, and can appreciate some of the feelings you may be experiencing as I lost my mother at the age of 87, two years ago. My mother too had only three years of formal education, and was a very wise and compassionate person.

    The memories of her life bring me joy now that the sorrow has passed. As you know, the sorrow does pass with time, and the wonderful memories remain.

    My screen saver contains some photos of mother, which is one way I can enjoy her memory.

    Consider keeping one of your Dad's trinkets in your pocket, so you can enjoy a connection with his memory every day.

    Thanks for sharing your experience.

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