Six Months After Death

What happens months after someone we care about passes away? How do we feel? How does it compare to how we felt the day it happened? How does life change? Although experiences differ, this article sets out to answer those questions through my own experiences. Six months after my father, best friend, hero, and mentor suddenly, tragically, and unexpectedly passed away, I thought it might be helpful to tell you about my life today. I hope these insights provide a lens into grieving the loss of a parent for people who haven’t yet experienced it. Perhaps those who have will relate to some of these feelings.

How I Feel Six Months After My Father Passed Away

1. I don’t think I’m any less stunned today than the day it happened. It’s still surreal, traumatic, paralyzing, and impossible to accept. The finality of it is with me every day, especially when I go to bed at night. I dream about my father often. He is alive in the dreams which is incredible until I wake up and realize I was dreaming. He usually shows up to offer advice during conflict. I suppose it’s a sign of how much I miss him, his guidance and comfort, and wish he was still here. Several times, I have been hugging him in the dream or resting my head on his chest as I used to do when I was a child and he would read to me in his favorite chair.

2. I’m still unable to look at photos of us together. I try but it’s too painful. I have a recording of an interview I did with him a few months before he passed away. I’ve attempted to listen but it’s also too difficult.

3. I still miss calling my father every day. Deactivating his cell phone and selling his car was an excruciating process and a stark reminder of the finality of death. I miss seeing him. I think about the plans we had. I go places and remember us being there together. Whenever I see an old movie, I remember us watching it together, where we were, or simply think that he was alive when it was released. It makes me wish I could go back in time and relive my childhood knowing what I know now. I would be even more grateful but that’s the benefit of hindsight. When it is over, it is really over. There is no going back.

4. Whenever I see a child with his father, I think of holding my father’s hand as a child and all the activities we did together. I think about telling that child to cherish every moment. I miss holding my Dad’s hand as a child, making him proud, helping him, and a million more things.

5. I feel people’s tragedies more now. When I see a plane crash, car accident, fire, flood, terrorism, or any loss of life, I think of their suffering and what their loved ones must be enduring. It’s more acute now than before. It’s just what I needed on top of the daily trauma I feel over the abuse and killing of animals.

6. I lost my father and my dog one after another so life is simply different now. I’ve learned to mask pain. Keeping busy helps. Doing good helps. Being grateful helps. I wondered how I would go on when it happened. Each day just starts anew and I try to make the best of it but I walk around with this loss on my mind. A part of me died that day.

7. In 1987, I started writing a newspaper column on social justice issues titled Kirschner’s Korner. My father used to cut the articles out of the newspaper. He took great pride in them. He told me I was his favorite author and inspired me to keep writing. He taught me to be a muckraker. He instilled confidence in me to continue pushing the envelope. I found dozens of my original articles in his closet after he passed away. He saved them for 30 years. Whenever I publish an article, I often think back to seeing him sitting on the couch smiling as he read my work.  I wish he still could. I lived to make him proud.

8. I never got to say goodbye. My Dad was here and then a few hours later he was gone forever. That’s a difficult experience to accept. But there is no choice. The finality of it is still excruciating. I want to fix it and I can’t. I remain frozen in time–the last time I saw him, the last time we spoke, and the time I found out it was over forever. There is a void in my life I can never fill now but I continue to try to lead a meaningful life to honor the love he invested in raising me.

9. I remind people to cherish time with people they love because when they are gone, they will miss them more than they can imagine. Here is a collection of articles I wrote after my father passed away. Perhaps you or someone you know will find guidance or comfort in them.

10. There will come a day when you have to say goodbye to the person you can’t afford to lose. Love that person today like you don’t know if the final day is tomorrow. Don’t take anything or anyone for granted. When you lose someone you love, life may go on but it will never be the same again. Trust me.

20 thoughts on “Six Months After Death

  1. So many people go through their entire lives never having a father, or a good relationship with one. Your lifetime of great experiences with your dad, makes the loss intensely painful because you’ve lost so much. But, you also have wonderful memories of your times together to keep with you for the rest of your life.

    1. Hi Laurelee,

      Thank you for your kind remarks. Yes, I hope one day I’m able to enjoy those memories. I think most people have very different experiences after death. When I think of the positive times I shared with my father, it actually makes me sad that he is gone so I don’t think about them yet. While I appreciate my life with him and while I’m deeply grateful for it–I’ve always known how lucky I was, it’s still too painful to even think about.

  2. 1. My heart aches reading your words. I haven’t experienced your pain, but I can feel a bit of it, I think. 2. Thank you for sharing and for honoring your dad by continuing on with what made him proud about you. 3. Thank you for educating countless people about grieving/loss and about animal advocacy. 4. Sending you all positive thoughts and strength.

    1. Hi Stephanie,

      Thank you for taking the time to write such a kind note. The pain, trauma, and sadness can really be paralyzing so I try to keep busy helping those in need. I appreciate your friendship. I have found great comfort from people like you.

  3. Andrew, you write so beautifully, and your pain, shock and love come through your words. I lost my mother five years ago. I loved her deeply, too. I do know how you are feeling. The words you express so clearly can only come so close to what it really feels like, as you well know. Even the most carefully chosen words are an abstraction. I was reminiscing about my mother just yesterday, as I often do, and wondered how it is that I can still be feeling her loss. I guess that is what love is. Someone said to me that when your heart breaks, it opens up more. I feel that now. Yours has, hence your words about feeling pain more acutely. It is one of life’s most difficult experiences, to be sure. You were obviously a terrific son. That is a great legacy. My heart is with you.

    1. Thank you very much. No notice is brutal. Notice is brutal in its own way but no notice is really devastating. It just leaves you frozen in time.

      I appreciate your story. Yes, that is what love is. The love just stays with you. The difference is that this love also hurts. And yes, a broken heart definitely opens to more love.

      Very kind of you to write. Thank you. I’m sure your mother was equally proud of you.

    1. Thank you Chris. It’s definitely a big adjustment when we go from speaking to someone every day to never speaking. I hope by sharing my experiences it reminds people to take full advantage of the time they have left with the people they love.

  4. Andrew – your words continue to reflect all that I feel every day. They give me some comfort yet I wish you didn’t experience the loss of someone you can’t afford to lose. I recently visited my family in NJ and went to the cemetary to pay my respects to my father. I lost my mind and had a difficult time leaving – pressing my hands against the marble drawer to “get him back”. You are right – things will never be the same and I would give anything to be with my dad again. I’ve spent so many hours reading about near-death experiences and scientific studies of life after death, consciousness, the nature of time – everything – just to find some glimmer of hope that some day, some way, I will see him again. I guess that means I haven’t accepted it but I cannot imagine a time when I will. Please know that you are in my thoughts always and I share all that you are feeling. I know that having a super-dad like we did is a great gift but it does not make it any easier. I live every day to make my dad proud – just like you. I know that you achieve that every day of your life. Lori

  5. Andrew…..I lost my husband suddenly 6months ago today, a new acquaintance sent me your article not knowing the details or timeline. Funny how the universe works things out that way. I don’t cry as much now but it seems everpresent in my mind more. I find myself asking ‘is this really my forever life?’ Mostly I have okay days but there are those moments I feel I get punched in the gut from out of the blue. I just the other day emptied out the backpak he took to work everynight. I find myself asking those odd questions that I believe only those who have experienced such grief can understand……what exactly was he wearing, what was the temperature that day, did he eat breakfast? not that any of this matters, I suppose i am just trying to put together a final picture. like you, I have saved voice messages from him on my phone that i have yet to replay. I am so sorry for your loss and i am grateful that you were able to share, your dad is proud of you.

    1. Hi Katherine,

      Thank you for sharing your experience. I can identify with everything you said. I replay the last moments in my mind as well. It is very painful. No notice can leave someone with many unanswered questions and wishes.

      I hope you find peace.

  6. Aדndrew,
    Your pain is as raw as it was in the first few weeks, so it seems to me. Your words are as heart-piercing as then, You feel the loss, agonize over the finality of the event, earlier in the day he was here and some hours later he was gone, forever. The operative word.
    your dad would suffer greatly knowing his death was causing you so much pain. The kind of person you’ve become, the compassion toward all living things as your guidi g light, would continue to bring him so much pride and pleasure. Likewise, he would want you to feel nothing but joy. He would want that to be his legacy. Love, Yael

  7. I lost my Mama 1 yr ago it seems like yesterday , the void is very real as is the pain even though it’s not physical. We did everything together, she was my life ,my everything my BEST FRIEND EVER.
    Never judging , always positive even in difficult situations. My Papa passed in 89 she was a widow for 26 years almost the same amount of time they were married. I miss them both but her loss is different it’s deeper more painful, more grieving, more awareness that’s my Mama is gone. Reading your words it’s comforting to know that the same feelings are felt regardless . Thank you for sharing you experience

  8. Andrew:
    I am deeply saddened for your loss. May your Father rest in eternal peace. I have too felt that deep void of abrupt loss. I lost my Aunt a few years ago and never got to say goodbye. It still hurts today. It has gotten more bearable as time passed. For the first year or so I felt her around and found myself talking to her about life and the challenges I was facing. I swear sometimes I heard her whispering in my ear as I struggled through a tough day and I made it through. I am much more appreciative of those I love and cherish life with them even more today. I know it can change in the blink of an eye.

    Your father will live on in you. Everyday as you continue to impact change and make the world just a little better, your father will be there. Smiling and proud. The sting of loss will one day not hurt so much. Until then use your amazing talent to process, process and continue to process until hopefully one day it doesn’t hurt as much. Your deep compassion and drive to make a huge difference in the world are inspiring. Even in your grief you are helping others. That is your Father…I know it hurts so much but he is with you.

    Years ago you were my mentor, my boss for a while. I learned so very much from you and am better for it today.

    I remember you talking about Pretzel…that so very cute best friend of yours. May he Rest In Peace. I am so sad for your loss.

    You are an amazing person, so giving despite your grief. Take care.

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