FAQ

Find answers to some of the more frequently asked questions on the Forums.

Forums guidelines

Our guidelines keep the Forums a safe place for people to share and learn information.

Reflection on the death of Dad

smallwolf
Community Champion
Community Champion

My father passed away last Wednesday after a short battle with Parkinson’s disease. He was only in palliative care for less than a week before he died, having moved into an aged care facility just two months prior. His health deteriorated rapidly those last few days, and I said my goodbye on the Saturday before his passing. I even have a picture from this time.

 

Grief is complex and personal, touching each of us differently. The famous stages of grief – denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance – were originally applied to those facing their own mortality, not grieving loved ones. Somehow that changed over time, and we now use those stages to understand mourning too. But it’s not so simple or linear. People oscillate between emotions, sometimes feeling several at once.

 

For me, there is acceptance of my father’s passing, mixed with relief his suffering is over. But there is no anger or depression yet, though it may come. Our relationship was complicated. He was not one for heartfelt talks or confiding emotions. We had little in common, divergent worldviews and interests. He was not my closest confidant; we struggled connecting on a deeper level.

 

Does that make him a bad father? No, just a product of his generation and life experiences. But it leaves me unsure how to feel about his loss. There is sadness, yes, but also distance. I mourn the relationship we could have had as much as the one we did.

 

Still, his passing has affected me in unexpected ways. My sleep is disrupted, concentration wavering. I feel foggy, prone to mistakes and forgetfulness. These are only visible in action and behaviour. Minor frustrations set me off. And apologies to those concerned. This hypersensitivity and emotional deregulation catches me off guard.

 

Grief manifests itself in the body and mind, even when the heart feels conflicted. The loss of a parent, however imperfect, shakes us at a core level. Right now, I have the feeling of a lump in my throat. It represents the loss of our youth, of the version of ourselves who still had a father. It is perhaps a reminder of our own mortality. Our bodies rebel against these existential threats through sleeplessness, agitation, and lapses in focus. And apologies to those concerned.

42 Replies 42

smallwolf
Community Champion
Community Champion

This impact sneaks up on you. People ask politely how I’m doing, and I don’t know how to respond. “Fine” seems a lie when I feel so off-kilter. But does one dump their complicated emotions on casual acquaintances? Close friends and family deserve honesty, but strangers warrant some distance. I settle on “getting  there” or “I’m breathing.” It acknowledges a struggle without getting into details.

 

I wish I knew how to make sense of these feelings. The complexity of grief defies easy categorization. I do not feel the anguish or depression I “should” at my father’s death. But my mind and body act otherwise, leaving me confused. I suppose these reactions are normal, even healthy. They simply take time to fully process.

 

There is no shortcut through the messy, winding path of grief. This is a patch I must walk, with patience and self-compassion, allowing each emotion its due time, even those that seem somehow “wrong.” In death, we remember that life itself is often messy and unpredictable. We cannot force feelings that are not organically there, just as we cannot ignore those that surface unexpectedly.

 

In time, this weight will lift. The fog will dissipate. I will make peace with this loss and its myriad ripples. For now, I honor my father’s memory by allowing myself to fully feel, filtering out others’ expectations. If I am still conflicted or sad weeks from now, so be it. There is no normal when it comes to matters of the heart. I will move through each stage – or not – in my own time and way.

Smallwolf 

thanks for your honest and thoughtful  posts.

Every person experiences grief in their own way. 
You have given personal examples of how it has affected you.

 

My dad died nearly 17 years and I think of him each day and miss him on birthdays. He would have loved seeing his great grand children. 17 years on the grief is not as raw and strong but their is a loss in so many different ways,

Thanks Sw 

 

mmMekitty
Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Hello Smallwolf

My condolences to you & your family, to your father's friends, too. I'm sure he'll be missed by more people than by you.

I love your post, Wolfie, for it's insights, wisdom & intellegence, for how you are compassionate towards yourself, willing to be open & accepting of all your feelings, whatecer they may be today or in a month, or further down the track.

I'd read about all the stages of grief many years ago, & wasn't very questioning of what I'd read back then. Now I think one of the biggest omissions was to not recognise the many ways people are & may respond to the various kinds of grief, during whichever stage which we happen to be in - like my experience of grief would surely have been different had I lost my father when I was young, or if I'd been his carer.

So many variables .. how can anyone have suggested there are these five stages we all will or should move through in turn?

We all find our own way through, feeling & dealing with our emotions or maybe doing our best to not deal at all, many, many ways in between.

I think the only feelings which might be of any concern are those that distress you, that become so overwhelming you find it impossible to get on with your own basic self-care. Then, yeah, you've got a problem.

From what I have read here, though, I think you are quite okay. You've got some complicated feelings, maybe they even feel contridictory. That's not uncommon at all. If you feel it would help to talk through these feelings, that's fine, too.

Forgive me, I don't remember what people you have in your life, who you would trust to talk to ... anyone like that?

& We're here, too.

Hugzies

mmMekitty

Eagle Ray
Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Dear smallwolf,

 

Thank you for sharing your experiences of grief and I hope it helps in the processing. Everything you say is so true, that it is a unique, organic process for each individual and there are no correct stages or right or wrong ways in grief. My Dad was the first of my parents to pass and I remember how monumental it felt. He too had Parkinson’s. I’ve found grief to be a myriad of emotions, feelings, sensations and thoughts that much as you describe do their own thing over time. It is really good to write it out so well as you have and I hope you also have some trusted others with whom you can find support and help process emotions. I’m sure it will continue to morph over time in ways that are unique for you as you integrate your experiences and memories of your Dad and the relationship you had with him. You have such wise insight, kindness and understanding towards yourself and what you’re experiencing and I’m sure that will help you through.

Take good care,

ER

ownleeone23
Community Member

Hello, I am too so sorry to hear of your father's death, no matter the relationship in life the death of a parent has an impact and there are absolutely no rules for how that should or does look. I know the speed of death can be particularly hard, like the unexpected death of a family member and I have struggled with some of those acute complex grief symptoms myself and Im 2 months on. My mother was the first to die after a fall at home, she was the carer for my dad he had dementia and late onset polio symptoms. Mum broke her leg and wrist and got through surgery only to get pneumonia 5 weeks after surgery and die. Dad who was in a nursing home by then (3 weeks) died 10 days later and my world just imploded...I'm an only child and they were my family.

I have managed to get up every day, treat myself fairly respectfully (eat etc) others more respectfully and try and not like yourself be hypersensitive and reactionary to others when dysregulated. I can cry for hours still and then also be ok for a day or two, sleep and I are still not on great speaking terms but I'm working on it. 

Grief and mourning at definitely not linear or predictable but wholly individual and honestly for myself it just is what it is, both my parents are dead, and I am not.

 

indigo22
Community Champion
Community Champion

Hi Smallwolf,

Your self awareness will be your greatest asset in the coming months, there will be times that you are surprised by your reaction to something that normally would not effect you and that is all part of the process. I feel that having been on the forums has given you some insight into this type of loss, but no matter how prepared we may think we are, when the time comes we all are knocked off kilter for a while. Just remember you have a community of people who understand to reach out to if you are not coping well, we will be more that happy to comfort and support you through this time.

You will be in my thoughts tomorrow.

indigo

Tim, our valuable champion colleague

 

Those complex emotions might just fall into place Tim. 

 

I send you all my care at this time.

 

DOING WRONG

 

One parent I have, never filled the void they were meant to occupy

And estrangement I insisted meant no other children need apply

But we "kids" could not choose who brought us here and it doesnt matter

At the end of the day they created that hallway pitter patter

 

So when that day comes when my mother finally drifts away

I'll force myself to forgive her for all those things she did say

And I'll ignore the narcissistic actions and harm that planned every day

And divorce myself from those that say I was the reason for that decay

 

Nothing will matter anymore those details of the gloom

I'll seek my own peace in any empty room

And I'll be ok for any ill feelings from my childhood days

Because this is life and it comes, in the mysterious of ways

 

I'll hope she rests in peace and I'll harbour what I knew

As the saying goes "they not know what they do"

What I do know is that I can live my life through notes of happy songs

And my journey is such that...I'm only human if I did anything so wrong...

 

TonyWK

 

 

 

 

Hi Smallwolf,

 

My heart breaks for you and the loss you're trying to learn to live with. 

 

My Mum passed away Christmas morning and only now have I been able to write about it. So you underestimate how bloody strong you are.

 

To be blunt... it is horrible. What else can you say really? Losing a parent is just such an awful, lonely feeling. There's just this gaping hole regardless of how close you were.

 

When Mum passed away I didn't realise how hard it would be to lose her physical presence as well as her as a personality. Her face is one I have known all my life and knowing I can't see her again hits me every day. Have you felt like that?

 

I don't have any ideas or suggestions to give or even any idea how you are feeling. I suppose we each just feel however is right for us individually. 

 

But I wanted to let you know I care too and I hope you can find a way to get through each day and hopefully find things that give you comfort even if it is just moments in the day. 

 

I'm sorry that you are hurting. Please reach out if I can help OK. 

 

Love Nat

Hello smallwolf

 

I am experiencing this myself and struggle with what to say to you.

I feel greatly for your loss is the best that I can do. I have to say that I can resonate with almost everything that you have written in both posts.

I feel that you have honoured your father well. At the same time you have shown respect and kindness to yourself.  Your posts have helped me.  I have been searching the forums for grief posts and this one I can connect with.

Grief is so hard to come to terms with as it is not an emotion.

We think that we are prepared when we know that our parent/s are unwell and will reach a time to leave this world. We say our goodbyes and feel the sorrow along with mixed feelings about a relationship that was not what a child expects from a parent. We tell ourselves that we have already grieved. So many unanswered questions and realisations that their own worlds were probably even harder than ours.  Yet this grief has a mind of it's own.

I lost 3 people in my life in just over 12 months. One of those was my mum who also was in palliative care.

I thought that knowing that fact and being with her would help me handle my loss.

Mine is long term grief from loss not just death.  So my grief is very complicated. It is very different for each of us as others have already mentioned.

I struggle hugely when people ask me hello how are you. I almost stammer and end up with not too bad or okay. Sometimes I smile and look down.

I have dealt with much but this long term grief seems to be the most unpredictable. I just try to deal with whatever each day brings.

People have told me not to dwell on it. I don't dwell on anything. The grief overwhelms me. I distract as much as I can. It is very draining and brings fatigue.

Rest is important.  Hydrating is important.  Breathing is important. 

Humour is my saving grace. It comes to my rescue without notice as it rises up from within me.

Be kind to yourself. You are not alone even though the grief is yours.

I will only write back to you if you respond. I want to respect your space.

Ems