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Missing my Dad too much to go on

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Hi all,

I am so desperate and lonely and I do not know where else to turn. I lost my beloved father 8 weeks ago to a cancer that was diagnosed less than a month before. It had spread everywhere with little warning. Because of COVID, I could not visit him in the hospital for the last three weeks of his life, which I found unbearable. He was 64 years old, in otherwise amazing health and had never spent a day in a hospital or had any kind of illness at all. My Dad had a few vague symptoms for about nine months - stomach troubles, constipation - but nothing that seemed very serious. Of course now I feel so guilty that I did not push him to go to the doctor sooner. By the time he did, nothing could be done - he was too weak for chemotherapy and passed even sooner than the doctors predicted. 

I am 30 years old and my life is just beginning, and I am struggling so much to accept his unexpected and almost sudden death. He and I were so close, though I had moved out four years earlier (I regret this now; I did it because I felt old enough to be on my own). I had not spent a lot of time with him the last few years because I was busy living my own life. Selfish, I know, and I will carry that with me forever.

I am having trouble thinking of any kind of future without my dad. He was a truly amazing supporter, and I feel like I have lost part of my identity with him. Thinking of milestones that used to make me excited for my future, like marriage and kids, seems impossible without my Dad here to see them. I should have had 20 more years with him. All my friends still have both their parents and have no idea what I am going through, which has become a suicidal depression that drugs do not help. I feel trapped in a nightmare; I no longer want my life. I want to be with my dad. The idea that I will never get to see or talk to my dad again is unfathomable and sends me into such a bad state of panic that I just want to end it all. 

Why did this have to happen? Why did he have to suffer and face his mortality so suddenly and unexpectedly? Why did it have to happen when I was just starting the best decade of my life? Why during COVID? Why not me instead?

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My dad died when I was 29 and I was carrying his granddaughter, he never got to meet his grandchildren.  I understand how you must feel about not getting to have him there with you for your milestones...but perhaps he is, just unable to make his presence known, so much we don't know about life beyond, but I try to keep my mind open for possibilities for things I don't understand.  It sounds like you had a good dad!  I told my kids stories about my dad so they could feel they knew who he was, how much he would have loved them and been proud of them.  I have many good memories of him growing up...he was a carpenter and he'd give me a block of wood and alphabet dies to hammer into it, that was how I learned to spell, etc.  Sitting in his shop.

I encourage you to embrace what there is in life for you...I know you can't see it right now but you have so much ahead to yet discover!  I'm 67 now and it feels my life went by so fast.  But it's never over until it's over and we can live it to the fullest until the day we die!

I wrote this article ten years after the loss of my husband of the things I've learned along the way in this grief journey, I hope something in it helps you today, something else further down the road, as this is a journey that is ever evolving.  Give yourself ample time to process this and begin to adjust to the changes it means for your life.  I've lost parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousin, niece, nephew, friends, pets, husband...life isn't evenly distributed including the hard places but it's what we do with what we have and learning to adapt.  Please seek help as this can be a tough journey to start on your own, death doesn't seem to come with a manual.


There's no way to sum up how to go on in a simple easy answer, but I encourage you to read the other threads here, little by little you will learn how to make your way through this.  I do want to give you some pointers though, of some things I've learned on my journey.

  • Take one day at a time.  The Bible says each day has enough trouble of it's own, I've found that to be true, so don't bite off more than you can chew.  It can be challenging enough just to tackle today.  I tell myself, I only have to get through today.  Then I get up tomorrow and do it all over again.  To think about the "rest of my life" invites anxiety.
  • Don't be afraid, grief may not end but it evolves.  The intensity lessens eventually.
  • Visit your doctor.  Tell them about your loss, any troubles sleeping, suicidal thoughts, anxiety attacks.  They need to know these things in order to help you through it...this is all part of grief.
  • Suicidal thoughts are common in early grief.  If they're reoccurring, call a suicide hotline.  I felt that way early on, but then realized it wasn't that I wanted to die so much as I didn't want to go through what I'd have to face if I lived.  Back to taking a day at a time.  Suicide Hotline - Call 1-800-273-8255
  • Give yourself permission to smile.  It is not our grief that binds us to them, but our love, and that continues still.
  • Try not to isolate too much.  
  • There's a balance to reach between taking time to process our grief, and avoiding it...it's good to find that balance for yourself.  We can't keep so busy as to avoid our grief, it has a way of haunting us, finding us, and demanding we pay attention to it!  Some people set aside time every day to grieve.  I didn't have to, it searched and found me!
  • Self-care is extremely important, more so than ever.  That person that would have cared for you is gone, now you're it...learn to be your own best friend, your own advocate, practice self-care.  You'll need it more than ever.
  • Recognize that your doctor isn't trained in grief, find a professional grief counselor that is.  We need help finding ourselves through this maze of grief, knowing where to start, etc.  They have not only the knowledge, but the resources.
  • In time, consider a grief support group.  If your friends have not been through it themselves, they may not understand what you're going through, it helps to find someone somewhere who DOES "get it". 
  • Be patient, give yourself time.  There's no hurry or timetable about cleaning out belongings, etc.  They can wait, you can take a year, ten years, or never deal with it.  It's okay, it's what YOU are comfortable with that matters.  
  • Know that what we are comfortable with may change from time to time.  That first couple of years I put his pictures up, took them down, up, down, depending on whether it made me feel better or worse.  Finally, they were up to stay.
  • Consider a pet.  Not everyone is a pet fan, but I've found that my dog helps immensely.  It's someone to love, someone to come home to, someone happy to see me, someone that gives me a purpose...I have to come home and feed him.  Besides, they're known to relieve stress.  Well maybe not in the puppy stage when they're chewing up everything, but there's older ones to adopt if you don't relish that stage.
  • Make yourself get out now and then.  You may not feel interest in anything, things that interested you before seem to feel flat now.  That's normal.  Push yourself out of your comfort zone just a wee bit now and then.  Eating out alone, going to a movie alone or church alone, all of these things are hard to do at first.  You may feel you flunked at it, cried throughout, that's okay, you did it, you tried, and eventually you get a little better at it.  If I waited until I had someone to do things with I'd be stuck at home a lot.
  • Keep coming here.  We've been through it and we're all going through this together.
  • Look for joy in every day.  It will be hard to find at first, but in practicing this, it will change your focus so you can embrace what IS rather than merely focusing on what ISN'T.  It teaches you to live in the present and appreciate fully.  You have lost your big joy in life, and all other small joys may seem insignificant in comparison, but rather than compare what used to be to what is, learn the ability to appreciate each and every small thing that comes your way...a rainbow, a phone call from a friend, unexpected money, a stranger smiling at you, whatever the small joy, embrace it.  It's an art that takes practice and is life changing if you continue it.
  • Eventually consider volunteering.  It helps us when we're outward focused, it's a win/win.

(((hugs))) Praying for you today.


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Hi RedPanda99, I do not have answers to your questions from your post. What I can say is the questions and statements that you make are the same exact questions I have and statements I make to myself everyday since I lost my Dad 3 months ago. Obviously, this doesn't help except to say and show us that others feel the exact same way we do and are going through the same thoughts, feelings, and emotions. When I read your post, I can see the recurring thoughts I have about what kind of future is there, my loss of identity, missed milestones and how now they've lost the joy without my Dad. You say 20 more years, I exclaim 30 more years. The thoughts about depression, it's all there with me as well, and to the same degree. We do feel trapped and life feels pointless ... but let's hope ... and see if we can find the answers together. Even by posting maybe we're helping others who feel the same way and happen to stumble upon this post, read it, and feel they are not alone in how they feel. Also, there's a lot of ideas being posted by others that may help us and others as well. Please do reach out if you want to discuss, you're not alone.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I lost my dad a month ago (your original post is very close to the date). It was sudden and without warning. He also had symptoms a few days before he died that potentially could have saved his life. But he downplayed them and I honestly believe that he was just optimistic and thought everything would be fine, because he had no health issues. I'm older than you and my dad was in his late 70s. Given that his father died at 55 and his grandfather was 65, I know I should feel fortunate. I just feel sad. There is so much I haven't yet accomplished that I wish he could be here for (or help guide me). I honestly thought we had a few more good years left. 

But, your post reminded me of my grandmother. Perhaps the strongest lady I know. In the span of three consecutive years, she lost her husband, father, and mother. Her youngest child graduated college the year after that and her oldest child got married two years later. The joy of those events must have been intermingled with pain. But, I think her strength was tested when at the age of 80, her granddaughter died in a car accident. And her immediate thought, was why not me? Because that would make sense. Why would anyone choose to take a 25-year-old girl when her grandmother felt ready to join her loved ones?  Yet she lived another 15 years. She witnessed the births of great-grandchildren, attended the weddings, graduations. It doesn't make the loss easier to know that she was able to enjoy these things. But, I like to think that she was with us for so long as a way to witness family moments for those who aren't able to be there. 

My father never "got over" the death of his dad. But, I know he felt lucky with his lot. He enjoyed his life and I think that is his greatest legacy. In the face of pain and loss, he was able to carry on. To make sure his children knew who their grandfather was even though they couldn't meet him. To make sure that he was living a life that would honor the love of his parents and what they wanted for him, which is what every parent wants for their child: to be happy, to be loved, to live their authentic life. I have no doubt that is what your dad would want for you. I know it feels heavy and hard to carry on that legacy. It feels the same to me. But, with time and support, I hope we're both able to take a few steps forward. Because our dads taught us well and loved us well. The world needs to know that.


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@Bing  I'm sorry for your loss...it is so hard to lose our parents, like we're the ones to carry on now, ready or not.  My dad died when I was in my 20s, expecting my first child.  I am sorry he never got to meet his grandkids, he would have been a terrific grandpa!  We miss having them to turn to, my dad always had hugs ready, my mom was not demonstrative but got better at it the longer she was with my dad.  She was widowed 33 years after he passed.

I love your positive outlook...yes, it sounds your dad did teach you well!

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Thank you Kay. My other grandfather was ... to put it nicely... a bit of a grump. And my dad was always aware that his father would have been a terrific grandpa, too! I am sorry that I never got to meet him. But, I do have my dad's memories to live vicariously through (and a few old, silent home movies).  It also gives me some comfort that my dad is with his parents again. He hadn't seen his father in over 60 years. 

I wrote something in my journal last week that still rings pretty true to me. My dad loved me and I loved him and now I have to carry all that love around for both of us. It is without a doubt an enormous responsibility and if I'm being honest, a heavy burden. I wish I could say for certain that I’m up for the challenge. For now, I'm just going to take my dad's advice (which he gave me when my cat was dying a few years ago), "you don’t have much of a choice, just take it a day at a time."

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I hope it moves from being a heavy burden of something you must do, to something more naturally and easily incorporated into your life, knowing you have his legacy with you, all that you shared, all that he taught you and you are now living that out.  
I only ever got to know one of my grandpas too.  People say I would have like the other one, I didn't hear much about him though.  I also shared stories of my dad with my kids, I know it's not the same as first hand memories but I hope they knew how much he would have loved them and been proud of them!

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