Monday, June 15, 2020

In Grief: Seeking Help for Father Loss

[Reviewed and updated August 7, 2023]

There is no expiration date on the love between a father and his child.  ~ 
Jennifer Williamson

A reader writes: I recently lost my father and I am unable to handle my loss. I don't know why, but I want to dig him up and bring him back to life. I am so sad and lonely without my father and I have never experienced anything like this before. I don't know if this is a normal reaction or not but I do know that I need help. I do have people around me who love me and are there for me, but it just isn't enough. Can you please write me back with any advice as soon as possible.

My response: I'm so very sorry to learn of the death of your father and I am sending you my deepest sympathy. You say you don't know whether your reaction is normal. It may comfort you to know that everyone's grief is different and unique, and there is no right or wrong way to "do" it ~ there is only YOUR way, and you must discover that for yourself. The reason you've never felt this way before is because you've never lost your father before. Few of us are prepared to face the excruciating pain associated with the death of a loved one. We think we cannot bear it, that to feel such sorrow is abnormal, as if we're going crazy. We think there's something wrong with us, or something unnatural about our feelings. But grief is NOT a pathological condition ~ it is a NORMAL and very personal reaction to losing someone you love.

You don't say how old you are, so I'm not quite sure which resources would be most appropriate and helpful for you, but I will offer what I can. I don't know how you found me, but if you haven't visited my Grief Healing website, I'd like to invite you to do so now. It contains lots of information about grief ~ what is normal, what to expect, and what you can do to manage your own reactions ~ all of which can be very helpful and reassuring, especially if you've had no prior experience with death. On my blog's Articles page you will find links to a number of articles I've written on various aspects of grief, and my Grief Bibliography page lists links to dozens of books I've read and personally recommend. Sometimes reading the accounts of others who are grieving reassures us that if others can survive the most devastating of losses, then somehow we too will find a way to survive as well. My sites also contain beautiful pieces written by others (see Comfort for Grieving Hearts and Voices of Experience) as well as links to dozens of other sources of information. If you are a teen, check out some of the articles listed on my Children, Teens and Grief page. Yet another alternative is to join our online Grief Healing Discussion Groups, which include several different forums specific to your particular type of loss, including one specifically devoted to Loss of A Parent or Grandparent. This is available to you at no cost, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and is a wonderful way to learn about normal grief and to connect with others whose experiences may be similar to your own. If you want to participate, simply go there and follow the registration instructions at the top of the page.

It is my sincere hope that this information proves helpful to you, my friend. I know that losing your father is painful beyond words, and I cannot take that pain away from you. I can assure you, though, that you do not have to bear it all by yourself. There is plenty of reliable information, comfort and support "out there" just waiting for you to find it. I hope you will make the effort to do so, and that you will think of it as a gift you can give yourself.

Afterword: You had asked me how old i am i did not think it matters but i am 35 my dad was not perfect my dad and me just started to get back to talking to each other then this happens i just don't know what else to do the pain  is not as bad as it was 2 weeks ago but i just miss him so much what  can you do to help me out ?

My response: Your age mattered to me only because I didn't know if you were an adolescent or an adult, and I would have referred you to different resources if you had been a teenager.

The fact that your pain "is not as bad as it was two weeks ago" is a positive sign, and an indicator that you are moving forward in your mourning process. (See my article, Recognizing Your Own Progress through Grief.)

You ask what can I do to help you out, but there is nothing I can do to help you out of this process ~ because your only way out is through. There is no magic formula, no short cut, and no easy way out. Grief is like a long, winding tunnel whose entrance is closed behind you, and the only way out of it is for you to go through it. As I said in my earlier message to you, this is YOUR grief journey and you must discover for yourself what works for you.

That is not to say that you should stand by and do nothing. You may have heard somewhere that "time heals all wounds," but that is nonsense. Time doesn't do anything ~ time is neutral. It is what we do with time that matters. To make the process of grief a healing one you must go through it actively, which means moving through it thoughtfully and working with it deliberately. Healthy, normal grieving is a process of honestly facing the reality of your loss, coming to terms with its impact on your life, learning to access all available resources for recovery, finding meaning in your loss, and continuing to live productively in the years that follow.

There is plenty that YOU can do to help yourself through this grief, my friend ~ that is why I pointed you to the many resources I mentioned in my last message to you. Have you visited any of the links I gave you? Have you made the effort to find out what bereavement resources are available to you in your own community?

Every loss is a challenge to grow. But growth requires change, and change is often quite painful. When a loved one dies, everything changes, including you.  Nothing will ever be the same again, and it may feel as it you've lost control of everything. But you will find that you do have some control, especially over the choices you will make. You alone will decide whether the changes you face will be positive or negative ones. You can choose how you will respond to this death of your father and how you will let it affect you. You can keep both your memories of the past and your dreams for the future, and you can decide not to give up on yourself and the rest of your life.

Your feedback is welcome! Please feel free to leave a comment or a question, or share a tip, a related article or a resource of your own in the Comments section below. If you’d like Grief Healing Blog updates delivered right to your inbox, you’re cordially invited to subscribe to our weekly Grief Healing NewsletterSignup here.

Related: © by Marty Tousley, RN, MS, FT, BC-TMH

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