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Dad Died Last Friday...we Were Estranged, No Chance To Say Goodbye

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my dad + I had a difficult relationship. he would instigate an argument, then vow to never speak to me again. but after he had a stroke in 2000, we started talking again, re-establishing a dialogue.

the stroke wasn't severe, but it was enough to keep him from being as active as he had been. this made him severely depressed. he talked often of killing himself. however, as time went by, he talked less and less about suicide, and focused on living.

about 3 years ago, we were talking about me coming for a visit, to see him in Phoenix (i'm in Los Angeles). i don't know what set him off, but he turned nasty and once again, cut me off. that time, he meant it. i would, every now and then, ask my sister about him. ask if he'd asked about me. she would just say that he was a 'cranky old man' and leave it at that.

last year, i began to send him greeting cards, for every holiday, birthday, whatever excuse i could find. at first, i just signed my name. as time went on, i wrote notes, telling him that i'd like to talk again. i never got a reply, or phone call, but i kept trying. i was always afraid that something might happen to him, and we would never get the chance to make speak again.

i got a call last friday night, late, from my sister. she told me that he had died that same night. she was sobbing. she started apologizing, saying over and over how sorry she was for not telling me anything. how sorry she was for not telling me the truth about his condition. she said he had been in very poor health over the last 6 months. he wasn't able to walk, couldn't get out of bed. he'd stopped eating because he couldn't get to the bathroom and was afraid of making a mess in the bed. he was drinking + smoking heavily. then, a few weeks ago, he had a fall and ended up in the hospital. from there, he went to an assisted-living facility. that was where he died.

i talked to the funeral home director today, to say that no one had told me anything. i didn't even know the cause of death. she read the report from the hospital. he had advanced lung cancer, cirrhosis of the liver, severe anemia, malnoutrition, deep vein thrombosis. when they found him unconcious friday night, he was in cardiac arrest. we don't have the death certificate yet, with the official cause of death, but i am guessing it was a heart attack that finished him off.

i am devasated. i am in shock. i'm angry. angry that no one told me, to give me the chance to see him, or talk to him, one last time. i am saddened beyond belief, knowing that he was in such pain. spiritual pain, emotional pain, physical pain. he had isolated himself from everyone. according to the doctors, he was nasty, belligerent and mean. how could this be? this was my dad? the dad who nicknamed me 'Missy' when i was young. the dad who used to take us fishing, golfing, camping. the dad who played games with me. took care of me when i was sick. the dad who got me the music box for going on the scary ride at the fair. the dad who helped me with my homework every day after school. the dad who loved the outdoors + hiking.

the thought of him, in bed, suffering, slowly killing himself, his body deteriorated, is shocking. it seems surreal. like someone else. someone i don't know. didn't know.

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I am so sorry for your loss and the fact that you didn't get to say goodbye. that is so hard to deal with. My mom has taken my dads death very hard and is not herself at all, so I know what you mean about looking at someone who's changed and you can't believe it's the same person! All the feelings you are experiencing are perfectly normal. Try not to be too mad at your sister, she was probably just trying to protect you. If your dad had changed so much, your "goodbye" might have been futile, so to speak, so maybe it's best you didn't go through that. (Just a thought). Hang in there. The surreal feeling will wear off. Life is just so sad sometimes, huh?

A big hug to you,


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LA girl,

I am so sorry for your loss.Your letter made me cry. I didn't get to see my mum for 8 months before she died as I moved interstate, but many of the feelings that have surfaced are simialar.

the more I read everyones letters, the more I am coming to think, that all this sadness and grief and emotian MUST be for a reason.I don't know what that is yet, but it can't be for nothing.Everyone alive has to deal with birth and death,so it must mean something.

I don't understand what makes people change so much iehter, but illness, medication and life itself affect soem people more than others. some people would rather be right than happy it seems and your dad may be one of them. It's so sad and I hope it gets esier for you. You are in my prayers.


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I am so glad you found this site, and that you posted. My dad (also estranged) died in August, and I found this site almost right away. It has really helped just to sort my feelings out, and compare experiences with others, and sometimes just vent! When I saw your post, I could instantly relate. My dad had estranged himself from his entire family, including his 11 brothers and sisters and his mom, and his two children, me and my brother. He died of alcohol related issues at the age of 56. I too missed an opportunity to visit him a year ago. but I was so fortunate in that my brother called me when he was dying, and I was able to be at the hospital. Of course he wasn't responsive, but I think he knew I was there.

I can just imagine your frustration with your sister not saying anything to you. I am sure you are very angry about that( I would be), and I am sure you are feeling guilty about not being around in his later years, as I was and am. And I am sure you are just beside yourself with unanswered questions and overwhelming grief and shock. For now, just be kind to yourself, and allow yourself to grieve. You didn't CHOOSE not to be there when he died, no one TOLD you. Even though my dad's family knew that he was dying, my brother and I were still the only ones there at his bedside. And I know that if you knew he was dying, you would have been there in an instant. Take solace in that.

But, it sounds like you have some good memories of him, and those are the things that are going to get you through this. The first few days and weeks are gut-wrenching, but you will get through them. I am sure he knew how much you loved him, and I am sorry that you couldn't say goodbye. In a way you did get to say goodbye to him by sending him those cards over the last year. I would write my dad with no response or call either, and maybe like your dad, he was just so far gone in his disease that he couldn't answer me. That is also the sad part, that they let themselves get so far gone.

Hang in there and keep coming back, we are all here for you, and i will be praying for you that you find some comfort.



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Dear La Girl,

I am so sorry for your loss.

My dad passed away on October 8/06. He died from a staph infection, that ended up causing a stroke and destroying all of his organs. The last time I had talked to him was probably about a month before he was admitted into the hospital, not because we didnt get a long, but he didnt have a phone so we normally would see each other about once a month. In the hospital he wasnt able to speak from the stroke, but it was nice to be able to be there with him. I am sorry you couldnt be with your father.

Do you think your father became this way to protect himself and loved ones, if he was "nasty" you wouldnt miss him as much, maybe he thought it would be easier on you?

I just wanted to let you know that I can relate to how you are feeling, in shock, thinking about him in the hospital. For the first week after my dad passed all I could think about was how he must of felt in the hospital, was he suffering, was he sad, was he scared??? It was awful. Those thoughts are becoming a little more dull now, and are replaced with a different kind of sadness, the kind of sadness where you miss him so much, and you can remember the good memories. The panic feeling and devastation will subside a little in time, and you can start going through the motions of life again. Be patient with yourself. I saw a grief counselor a couple times and found that to be helpful.

I don't know when life becomes "normal" again because I am definately not there yet.

I still cry each and everyday, I think I might forever? I love him and miss terribly.

Take Care


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Hi, LAgirl: From the bottom of my heart, I'm so sorry for your loss. My Dad suffered a stroke last December 14th. Up until the very day he had his stroke, he was an active, vital man. He was a farmer; he still helped my brother with the farming, worked with his animals and so on. His stroke left him with paralysis on his left side. The nurses and therapists had to use a lift to get him in and out of bed in order to use the commode. He was so embarrassed that he couldn't wipe his own behind. He kept apologizing to the nurses that they had to do that. He couldn't use his left hand and arm, so I had to cut up his food and feed him. He got angry about his loss of independence and would holler at me (I think because I was the one with him at the hospital and was the one that was handy). Then he would cry because he hollered at me. It was hard, but I tried my best not to take it personally. That just wasn't my Dad; he was hurting. And I was hurting for him because I couldn't make it better for him. Even though your relationship with your Dad was different, perhaps he was angry just like my Dad was (perhaps not at you as much as his situation). I don't blame you at all for feeling upset with your sister; that would have really hurt my feelings, too. It's too bad she made the choice not to keep you in the loop. I'm so glad you found us.

Wishing you comfort and peace,


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LA Girl,

I'm so sorry for your loss. My dad died on his birthday this August. When he died I was devasted, and cried non-stop for 3 days straight. I was also full of guilt. I felt guilty because we didn't always have a good relationship, and at times I said some pretty mean things to him. But during the last few months of his life, we finally started to talk and became closer. He felt sick one day and we took him to the hospital and he died 3 weeks later!!! The doctor said he had advanced colon cancer & advanced liver/kidney disease that he never told anyone about. It was so shocking and unexpected. I tried to protect him from knowing that he was dying on his deathbed, so I didn't tell him good-bye either. I pretended everything was fine when he was dying. I held his hand and held back tears. I didn't tell him many things like thank you or "I Love You", cause it was something we never did in my family. Now I wish I had poured my heart out and told him that although our relationship was not perfect, he was still my father and I loved him. This site is great. As soon as I posted, I got great responses from people like Shell, STARKISS, and others. Now as I near the 3 month mark, the shock has worn off. I still think about my dad a lot and when I visit his grave I write notes and ask him to forgive me. Little by little I am getting back "to normal". But our dads will always live in our hearts. Keep coming back...it sure has helped me.

Edited by Rayon
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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm so sorry for your loss. My mate also suffered for two-plus years with failing health. It made a different person out of him. The most optimistic person I ever knew became morose, cranky, and just plain mean. He did and said things that I never believed would have come from the man I loved. But he was scared and he hurt both physically and mentally. He would go through different stages with me and with his children, at times so angry with us and pushing us away and then choosing "favorites" - something he hadn't done before. He drank too much, he ate too much, he sabotaged his little remaining health at every turn. I truly believe that he had so little pleasure left in life that drinking and eating were all he had left. He was very hard to love sometimes (for everybody).

It sounds like you had a 'normal' rocky parent-child relationship made so much worse by the particulars of the his health and death. I'll bet though that he loved you like no one else ever could have and probably wanted to be remembered as the better man he used to be. I know that my man adored his children with a love that he was never able to express to those that needed to hear it the most. I ache for them too that there are still so many unresolved issues. He truly thought they were the greatest gift of his life. It sounds to me like your father felt the same way but just couldn't say it either.

Don't feel guilty about the hurt and anger that you feel. What he did was not right but it was likely the only way he was able to handle the situation. Fathers are supposed to be big and strong and wise and always do the right thing. It's so hard for them and us when they fail that way. It doesn't lessen the love, just makes it so much more difficult to see.

Take care of yourself. Try to get as much sleep as you can. Eat some healthy food. Cry, cry, cry and be angry. I hope your suffering will lead to some relief and a new bonding with your father.

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