Almost 6 Months Later

It has been almost 6 months since my father died and I’m having a challenging sort of day. A friend just lost his father and the news kind of took me back. I feel for him and the loss that his family is experiencing now, I have a deep understanding of some of the emotional pain that he may be living through. I kind of feel weird because back then he reached out to me and I didn’t accept or connect with him. Today would have been today regardless of what I did back then, I just wonder how he is doing.

A month after my dad died, I meet a new friend whose father is terminally ill - well, that isn’t a great way to phrase it because he has been given a terminal diagnosis but it’s well down the road - a few years vs. the “get your affairs in order” timeline a lot of people are given. I love talking with her about the entire thing because it helps me remember and feel useful, and significant in a way.

The struggle one has during these times is their own. Some may look at the news her family received and claim that it is no news at all given that all of us will die at some point in the future. The same may look at what my family was told and say that must have been tough on us. But it’s all the same news when you get down to it. Death is a future event, be it 6 weeks or 60 years, there will be a time in the future when it end.

But it’s in the future and there is no amount of thinking that is going to alter the eventuality about it. I have tried for months to think my dad back into existence - not constantly, but there are moments when I realize that I’m still trying to wrap my head around the fact that he is gone and forever is a pretty long time. Even now, as I type this, there’s a piece of me that wonders if maybe it’s all just a big misunderstanding, that he’s lost somewhere, or on an extended vacation.

Weird, I know, but the reality is slow to register some of the time.

I was asked how I dealt with the news that my dad was going to be dead in a few months and feel like I’m in a position to actual answer the question. I let go of the fact that he was going to be dead in a few months when I was around him and I made my time about him, me and the family. When I wasn’t with him, I let out whatever was building and was lucky enough to have someone to hear me. I talked to him about it, my feelings and what was going on and then we only talked about it when I needed to, which wasn’t very often or when he needed to, which was even less often. My dad was accepting of it, he had lived as long as he was going to and he was content with his journey.

There wasn’t an elephant in the room because I let my dad set the tone and he kind of didn’t care that much. He ask that Des and I look after our mom, gave some other advice and then got back to living life - having a few beers, a lot of great food and laughing as much as possible. It’s odd, but up until right there, I wasn’t as aware of the absence of the beer, great food and laughing in my life recently….

So if asked for a couple of pieces of advice on how to handle the news of a terminal diagnosis I say:

How you think you are going to feel will be different from how you feel. My fathers death impacted me in very different ways than Natalie’s death. Natalie’s ended up being a lot more destructive and I should have gotten therapy to help manage it. Their death is coming and you don’t know how it will impact you so don’t try to think your way through it. The grief process is will written into our DNA and will look after itself when the time comes.

Anticipatory grief is likely, but not necessary. I say this because EVERYTHING breaks down. The confirmation of this doesn’t alter the reality, it just heightens ones awareness of it. Take it as an opportunity to get out there and have a little fun with life, yourself, your family and your planet.

In the end, when the process has worked its way through, I’ll have the wisdom to be very useful about this topic. Right now, as I move forward I remain grateful for having had a great life with my father and for having those last 6 weeks together. I file them away under “how to live each moment to the fullest”.

4 Responses to “Almost 6 Months Later

  • 1
    July 26th, 2012 12:11

    Hi Patrick,

    “Even now, as I type this, there’s a piece of me that wonders if maybe it’s all just a big misunderstanding, that he’s lost somewhere, or on an extended vacation.”

    This part of what you’re experiencing is very normal from everything I’ve heard and experienced myself. The mind can’t fully accept that the loved one is forever gone so the mind will play tricks and often the first thought of that person is that they’re on or just gone away for awhile. It can take a few minutes to realize that that’s not the case. This process can take up to two years.
    My grandfather, who I was very close to and loved very much, passed away in June of 2010. We were so blessed to have him for as long as we did, but the process is still the same. From time to time I would have a stray thought that I need to go visit him or wondered how he was doing, before I remembered. This past June I was thinking about him quite a bit and even shed a few tears and didn’t understand why it was affecting me that way, but after giving it some thought, I remembered that it had been two years since he died.
    The first two years are rough because you still expect to see them or hear from them by phone and when you’re jolted back to reality, the pain comes back. Thank goodness it lessens over time and gets to a point that when we do think of them it’s not with pain, but with wonderful memories and it leaves a smile on our face, because we know we were blessed to have them in our life to begin with.


  • 2
    July 26th, 2012 18:32

    Hi Kate!

    Thank you for your courageous reply! It means a lot to me that you’ll take a stand and relate the challenges of assimilating the changes that death brings to life.

    I’m not in a hurry to see the time go by and am grateful that my moment of actual realization is 5 months behind me. The days are more carefree again and I’m moving into a future that I wasn’t enjoying while my dad was still alive. A big sense of worth came when I realized exactly what I had lost, as though I finally understood the value of life and made the decision to stop squandering it.


  • 3
    July 31st, 2012 20:39

    Thank you for saying that you think I’m courageous and that it means a lot to you that I’ll take a stand, but I honestly am not sure what you mean. I don’t see it as being courageous, or taking a stand for anything, it’s just the way things are. Could you explain it to me so that I understand better.

    I’m glad that you’re no rush to see the time go. This is a part of your journey and everything that you see, experience and feel should be acknowledged and given thanks for, because even though certain experiences can be painful and tear away at us, down the road, we will see the effects of how we dealt with it and hopefully become better people because of it. Nothing can change the past, and we can’t bring those back that we’ve lost, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t grow from the experience and make a better life for ourselves. There is no better way to honor your father than finding your true path and living it!!!! If I can be so bold…I am so proud of you!!!! You have transformed by leaps and bounds and there is no slowing down in sight. I am honored to be your friend, and absolutely tickled that you consider me in the top tier.


  • 4
    July 31st, 2012 20:48

    Hi Kate,
    Most people don’t actually talk about death and the grief. You share and that can help everyone who reads it.
    I wished a lot of my life away after Natalie died because the pain was too much to bare. You’re comment about honoring my dad through the creation and living of a transformed life is exactly the honor I’m trying to bestow upon his memory.

    Be awesome Kate!