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dmcgill

Member
Joined
Apr 16, 2004
Messages
65
Points
6
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
 

dmcgill

Member
Joined
Apr 16, 2004
Messages
65
Points
6
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
 

ThatLady

Member
Joined
Nov 4, 2004
Messages
4,104
Points
36
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. :)
 

ThatLady

Member
Joined
Nov 4, 2004
Messages
4,104
Points
36
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. :)
 

David Baxter

Administrator
Joined
Mar 26, 2004
Messages
37,771
Points
113
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.
 

David Baxter

Administrator
Joined
Mar 26, 2004
Messages
37,771
Points
113
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.
 

Retired

Member
Joined
Aug 17, 2005
Messages
8,966
Points
36
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.
 

Retired

Member
Joined
Aug 17, 2005
Messages
8,966
Points
36
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.
 

Banned

Banned
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Joined
Jul 3, 2005
Messages
4,893
Points
36
Dennis,

I'm sorry for your loss.

We buried my grandfather today, and so far I haven't grieved. I want to, but can't. I just go on. I'm sure it will hit me later.

The points you post are right on. I too was able to spend a few hours with grampa in his final days. I didn't talk to him at all - it felt awkward, but he knew I was there.

My pain with death usually comes from seeing my loved ones in so much pain. If it hits me, it will be much later.
 

Banned

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Messages
4,893
Points
36
Dennis,

I'm sorry for your loss.

We buried my grandfather today, and so far I haven't grieved. I want to, but can't. I just go on. I'm sure it will hit me later.

The points you post are right on. I too was able to spend a few hours with grampa in his final days. I didn't talk to him at all - it felt awkward, but he knew I was there.

My pain with death usually comes from seeing my loved ones in so much pain. If it hits me, it will be much later.
 

dmcgill

Member
Joined
Apr 16, 2004
Messages
65
Points
6
Consider keeping one of your Dad's trinkets in your pocket, so you can enjoy a connection with his memory every day.

I do that and it is his pocket knife.

Yes, grief is very important and in the Western Society, we do not allow ourselves the time to heal. The First Nations People of the West Coast have a 7 day period where they have services every night and then there is the funeral. The family buries the loved one themselves, not a caretaker at the cemetary. Then they get together and have a great meal. A year later, they have a feast to rememeber and usually that is it. I think it is very healthy.
 

dmcgill

Member
Joined
Apr 16, 2004
Messages
65
Points
6
Consider keeping one of your Dad's trinkets in your pocket, so you can enjoy a connection with his memory every day.

I do that and it is his pocket knife.

Yes, grief is very important and in the Western Society, we do not allow ourselves the time to heal. The First Nations People of the West Coast have a 7 day period where they have services every night and then there is the funeral. The family buries the loved one themselves, not a caretaker at the cemetary. Then they get together and have a great meal. A year later, they have a feast to rememeber and usually that is it. I think it is very healthy.
 

Eunoia

Member
Joined
Feb 14, 2005
Messages
785
Points
16
hey Dennis. I am sorry for your loss. I think what you posted was very heart felt and an inspiring story about your father. it sounds like he led a very fulfilling life and left great legacies behind. it's true that you should remember him for when he was alive and what he meant to you then and not in terms of him being gone now. Physically people leave this world but what they taught you and what they meant to you and the momenst you shared with them stay with you and noone can ever take those away. It's kind of like your own little gift to each other that will stay with you until the rest of your life.

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.
I think it's like that w/ a lot of other things too... not to say that you always have to go through something in order to be compassionate or understand, but if you have or know someone who has it definitely puts a completely different perspective on it. going through something almost puts a more human face on ie. "steps" to something b/c you know there's a whole other dimension behind them.

thanks for posting this!
 

Eunoia

Member
Joined
Feb 14, 2005
Messages
785
Points
16
hey Dennis. I am sorry for your loss. I think what you posted was very heart felt and an inspiring story about your father. it sounds like he led a very fulfilling life and left great legacies behind. it's true that you should remember him for when he was alive and what he meant to you then and not in terms of him being gone now. Physically people leave this world but what they taught you and what they meant to you and the momenst you shared with them stay with you and noone can ever take those away. It's kind of like your own little gift to each other that will stay with you until the rest of your life.

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.
I think it's like that w/ a lot of other things too... not to say that you always have to go through something in order to be compassionate or understand, but if you have or know someone who has it definitely puts a completely different perspective on it. going through something almost puts a more human face on ie. "steps" to something b/c you know there's a whole other dimension behind them.

thanks for posting this!
 

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