Four Years After Death

It has been four years since my father passed away. Over the past four years, I’ve shared the lessons I’ve learned from this experience to help others prepare for and cope with the grief that follows death. This year, I wondered what insight I could share that I haven’t already, or that’s worth repeating. I’m not sure much changes now. There’s a lot of missing–times when loss feels especially sad. Photos remain difficult to see. The paradox of the void and gratitude endures.

I still think of my father often. I can see him holding me on his shoulders in Central Park, tucking me into bed at night, and throwing a ball to me. I can see him crying at his aunt’s funeral, cheering for me at my little league game, and driving me to get school supplies after a long day of work. I can see him grocery shopping for me, teaching me how to ride a bike and drive a car, taking me to college, and helping me with my resume. I can see him smiling as my dog jumps all over him and kisses his face. I can still hear him saying, “How’s my #1 son?” I can see him listening, laughing at my jokes, reading my articles, teaching me life lessons, and caring more than anyone I knew. I can see the last time I saw him and the last time I heard his voice. I can see myself crying for days.

I miss my father’s laugh, listening skills, and advice. I miss sharing our lives. I miss supporting him in his time of need. I miss talking about politics and work. I miss his hugs. I miss being with someone who taught me so many lessons and comforted me so many times. And I miss having a father. That missing doesn’t end.

I suppose my enduring advice would be to appreciate the time you have with the people you love because one day, you will only see them in your memories. Tragedy doesn’t always knock. I was laughing with my father and planning our lives together, and then he was gone. To be given the personal belongings of someone you love is a crushing experience. The finality of death is painful, and I don’t know that anything can prepare us for its permanence. When it’s over, it’s over. Whatever was left unsaid is left unsaid forever. Not until someone is gone do we truly understand how that feels.

Most of me died the day I lost my father. But four years after death, I’m reminded that love never ends.


7 thoughts on “Four Years After Death

  1. This is a beautiful piece and absolutely reminds me of how I felt/feel about my dad and how I feel after almost 3 years since his death. Thank you for capturing this and making it live.

  2. A beautiful tribute. It will be 36 years at the end of this month since my dad passed and although time lessens the pain, I mourn the time and experiences not shared, including him never knowing his grandchildren, his counsel, advice, humor and friendship. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on your dad – may time help to lessen your pain; have peace in knowing what a wonderful relationship you had with him.

  3. Yes, I too have lost my parents. My Father died suddenly at 55 years of age. exactly one week later he would have become a grandfather. He was growing a beard to look the part! Love will keep the memories alive. May you be blessed and comforted and never know loss again

  4. I have felt similar grief. You are coping, and thank you for your meaningful work. You know what your father would wish for you. So have a good life, with peace of mind, for him.

  5. I just happened to stumble on this through a link from another of your writings. This month marks the tenth anniversary of my mother’s death from lung cancer, and I find that while the sting has become more of a dull ache, the grief has not diminished at all. I’ve learned to adapt and cope, but it never really goes away. Thank you for this – it’s something I needed to see right now.

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