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My Dads...yes Dads.

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ok, so a little background info i guess. my mom found out she was pregnant after getting out of a really bad relationship with my biological father. he had hidden his drinking and drug use from her, at the time she was 3 years sober. she confronted him, he got violent. i figure she made the right choice, it's what i would do. when i was born, he gave up all his parental rights. so i never got a chance to meet him before his death. i spent from the age of 16 to 19 trying to find him, which wasn't easy at all being as i had no cash to help with that process. also he and his family aren't very easy to find, no one seems to keep the same address or phone for long. anywho, one day in june of 05 i figured, hey why not do a google search for the heck of it. well i found his obituary, he had died 3 months earlier. at least through that i got to meet the rest of my bio fam, i even have about 13 half sibs...he had a major thing for red heads. for a while i felt very cheated by that, it was even harder to learn that he'd pretty much been stalking me my whole life, came to all my various recitals. i know it's a wonderful thing that he cared about me that much, it was pretty odd showing up and having a whole family i'd never met before know all about me. it almost feels worse though that he was there, and never approached me or anything. i figure he thought that that was what was best...

ok, so when i was 5 my mom met this guy fell in love, blah blah blah, they married he legally adopted me, his family took me in they are wonderful people. they divorced when i was 8, he got stuck with a kid and child support. even though he wasn't all that excited about it at first he stuck with me at least i guess. though when i was 11 he moved to california, and when i was 16 he moved to taiwan. we spoke a lot on the phone, he made a lot of effort to be in my life as much as he could, i honestly hadn't ever been happy with him having moved, it took me a long time to accept that and to accept him into my life. after my bio dad died, and i realized that relationship would never happen. i decided to take full advantage of at least having a loving father...ugh that sounds horrible. i don't even know how to explain it all, or even remember it all. i blocked a lot of the whole "divorce" memories over the years. overall he had matured a lot and i truly believe he had actually found his place in life, which really showed in his relationship with me.

um, anyways, on my 21st birthday i woke up fairly hungover to about 20 missed calls from my mother. my dad had been in the country for the holidays my birthday is january 1st. he had been making breakfast for my grandparents, felt he had really bad indigestion and drove himself to walgreens to get some antacids. while he was there realized it wasn't indigestion, the idiot drove himself to the hospital and collapsed in the er corridor and died from a severe MI.

i realize it would have been just as horrible had he not died on my birthday. i know it sounds horrible, but it would be nice to at least have one day a year that is just mine. instead even thinking of my birthday is pretty horrible, it's even worse having everyone saying happy birthday, when one thing you really aren't feeling is happy. all it does is remind me of his death, and spending most of my day on the phone signing over his organs. having to figure out how to let his friends in taiwan know he's dead. calling all of his friends in the states, trying to figure out how to get his possessions back. lucky for me his sister took care of all the funeral arrangements, i really wasn't in a place to take care of it myself at that time.

this year i will be 24, i didn't deal with either deaths well. i've always had a major problem with depression. after my bio dad's death i did fairly well, i think it really helped to have his/my family in my life to deal with it. i also really started to rely on my dad, and that i still had a dad. the last 3 years i haven't been well with my depression. i finally started working again a few months ago, getting my life on track. i really figure this year, i need to make my birthday my own again. i'm really just not sure how to do this at all. part of me really just doesn't even want to acknowledge it, while another part feels it's what i have to do. i also feel guilty for wanting this. it's all just a whole big jumble of confusion in my head.

i thought, since everyone here has lost. maybe someone would have some input on it. i've spoken with friends about it, not anyone who has lost a parent. all i've received in feed back so far is "PARTY AND GET DRUNK!!!". i guess that's what you get for knowing a bunch of 20something year olds...

sorry this was so long, i tend to ramble a lot.

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Dear One,

I’m so sorry to learn that at such a young age yourself, you’ve had to endure the loss of not just one, but of both of the father figures in your life, and I can’t imagine how difficult this has been for you.

I think your statement that “I need to make my birthday my own again” is telling. By the age of 21, you’d already experienced far more significant loss than most people have who are much older than you, and now, at the age of 24, it’s certainly understandable that you’re wanting to leave all this death behind you and get on with your own life.

You also say that you “didn’t deal with either deaths well,” which leads me to believe that you probably didn’t have the benefit of talking with someone knowledgeable about the grief process, a support group for bereaved children, or a few meetings with a grief counselor to help you come to terms with either of these losses. When grief is not dealt with effectively at the time a loss occurs, it has a way of popping up again, oftentimes when we least expect it. (An example of this is the guilt you’re feeling over wanting to get on with your life and, as you say so vividly, make your birthday your own again. Guilt is a very common component of grief, and even if it’s irrational and totally unjustified, it can make you miserable unless and until you find a way to understand and deal with it.) Unfortunately, unaddressed grief never really “goes” anywhere ~ it simply lies there, waiting for us to take care of it. But the good news is that it’s never too late to do the work of grief, and your coming here to participate in this Loss of a Parent forum is a wonderful place to start.

I want to point you to two earlier posts in this forum that discuss dealing with the death of a parent at an early age. Although in these two cases the parent who died was a mother rather than a father, I think the content of the messages may be of particular interest to you:

Can't Sleep, posted on Feb. 14, 2006

Gone and Forgotten, posted on May 9, 2005

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I am so sorry for your losses but glad you found your way here.

You don't mention your mom after the divorce. Is she still a part of your life and someone you can talk with?

As far as your birthday goes have you thought about having an "unbirthday"? I know people who have their birthdays on Christmas and New Year's and felt short changed so they moved it to June 25th and July 1. Kind of a half birthday. Maybe if you did this for a while until you can get yourself some help that it would make you feel better. Just pick a random date and maybe have a few friends for a special dinner. Yes, the 20 something is all about drinking but maybe that isn't the best for you especially now because it could only add to your problems.

I hope you find some solutions.

Keep talking to us and maybe something will finally make you feel better.

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i've done some counseling, but we mainly covered my depression and my anxiety. i can't afford it anymore now that i'm working they get to charge me for it. i qualify for insurance at work now, but since i can't get full time hours with them currently i wouldn't be making enough to cover my cost of living if i decided to get insurance yet. i'm looking for a part time job for more cash and to be able to afford insurance which will be really nice.

ooof, my mom...well, i don't want to say anything bad about her. i love her very much. when i was 19 she moved a few hundred miles away, just this march she moved to haiti. for her dream job. i've been having some problems with that, having her so far away. it really bites only getting to see a parent once or twice a year. i feel hurt by her decision to do this, when she already knew how it affected me with my dad.

she pretty much has her own life now. though that isn't really anything new. she didn't deal with the divorce well, and shortly after that my grandpa died, her dad. she's had numerous problems with depression herself. i'd say most of my teenage years it was more like having a roommate then a parent.

so far with my birthday, i usually just celebrate it when i am visiting with family over christmas. the last two years i have spent my birthday with my family, which wasn't very eventful. in 2007 no one on his side of the family really brought it up at all, i just got slipped my birthday cards with my christmas cards. this year i spent it taking care of my mom after she had foot surgery. her friend made me a cake and a few of her friends came over, we just had some dinner, though aside from the cake and a quick happy birthday not much else was discussed.

my dad's family this year did a cake also, and my cards and presents at a dinner separate from christmas dinner while we were all together. it was a little more helpful to have them acknowledge it. just still not the same at all though.

i haven't celebrated with friends yet. i'm still conflicted on whether i want to spend my birthday with friends or set aside another date and do it then. i've also considered just spending the day working to get some holiday pay.

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I know what you mean about birthday celebrations. Those born in December/January normally don't have birthdays the same way as other people born throughout the year. Birthdays became important to me because I saw my siblings get celebrated with their friends, but mine weren't because it was always the middle of winter and very very cold. My mom was a very private person so to have other kids in the house, wasn't something she handled well.

I think Mary Linda's suggestion of an unbirthday or picking another day of the year as your birthday is a very good suggestion. If you pick a day that has been special to you for some reason it would be a step to slowly reclaiming your birthday over the years as your own. The fact that other birthdays are celebrated and the dec/jan birthdays always are an inconvenience due to funds or other reasons is just unacceptable. But I say make it happen for yourself. Have a day where you tell all your friends let's get together. Bring a big cake and say today we're celebrating my birthday - even if it is July 1. Nice weather, people are generally around and available and want to go outside. If you feel shy about making the day your own, you can even say it's a friend's day and confide in your best friend that perhaps s/he could make it into a party without letting the others know it's your idea.

I know how it can be when you get cut off from counselling. You may want to inquire at your local library or on the internet in your area if there are any grief counselling sessions that are free. In my city the Jewish offer grief counselling. It is free. I haven't gone to it, but have thought to go. I went to one session and it was too soon after my mom's death. One of the best places to inquire is with the cancer society of your region because often they have associations with grief groups.

take care (((HUGS)))

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  • 3 weeks later...
I too know how you feel but in a different way. I was born on my grandfathers birthday. My step-grandmother was in the hospital soon after I was born. My mom went to visit her and he asked my mom "how is the baby? when was it born?" She told him that it was a girl and she was born on his birthday. From then on we had an inseparable bond. I can not tell you how many birthday memories I have of me and my grandfather. We celebrated our birthdays together every year. One year we went to Denny's back when they gave you free dinner on your birthday. They didn't believe we shared the same birthday so I didn't get free dinner and I was about four years old at the time. What a pile of crock that was. Anyway my grandfather passed away in 2003. Ever since then I've had the hardest time celebrating my birthday. Every year I try to make the morning about him and I by going to his favorite place to get coffee (McDonalds) and having breakfast. I then TRY to focus on me the rest of the day but I never fully feel happy on my birthday. I always think about how he should still be here celebrating with me each year. I guess my way of coping is by remembering all the fun times we had each year when our birthday comes around. I love and miss my grandfather very much. My birthday will never be the same. I'll just keep growing older with him here in spirit. Edited by babybrat07
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  • 2 weeks later...


I honestly have tears rolling down my face right now. I do not and won't pretend I know what you are going through, our circumstances were different, yet the same with one big difference--my godfather is still alive. I cannot even begin to comprehend your pain, I just can't even think about it. And my father was sort of the opposite of your dad. He was in my life, but he didn't pay a lot of attention to me and my needs. But for all intents and purposes, he wasn't there.

i know it sounds horrible, but it would be nice to at least have one day a year that is just mine

Not horrible at all. There are 364 other days of the year, so why not one of those instead of your birthday? Yes, you are right that it wouldn't matter what day he died--you'd be in pain and miss him. But the fact that it's so close to to the holidays is already a stab in the heart. But your birthday, too? :(

i decided to take full advantage of at least having a loving father...ugh that sounds horrible

What sounds horrible? Do you feel guilt for loving your stepfather and giving him the rights as your father?

I have to ask where on earth did you get the strength to survive all of this??? I can't imagine all of the things you've went through:

1. Your stepfather moving to CA.

2. Your stepfather moving to Taiwan.

3. Your stepfather's death.

4. The date of his death.

I have no idea how you can go about being able to celebrate your birthday again. My suggestion would be to pick a different date to celebrate it. Remember, the purpose of a birthday is to get presents and cake; doesn't have to be on your actual day.

One final thought--the stupidity of the remarks your friends makes has nothing to do with their age. I've been through both parents deaths and have no idea how you really and truly feel about what has happened to you because it hasn't happened to me. It's why I've hesitated to make a suggestion regarding your birthday. I actually had to do a LOT of thinking before I came up with the above idea. Really dumb thoughts went through my mind like, "Your stepfather would want you to enjoy the day."

Take care of you.


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