On losing my dad.

Me and my father, Summer 1983, Dallas, Texas.

I’ve experienced a strange array of emotions since my father’s death on Monday, June 6th. To be more accurate, I haven’t felt too much emotion at all. I used this event to take two days off from work, but not really to grieve, just to reminisce and remember the good times my father and I had together. And yes, there were many good times.

I know the things I’ve written about my parents in this blog haven’t been too flattering, but that’s because of the subject matter of this blog. Essentially, I write it for myself and nobody else. I feel no shame in saying the things I have said, none of which were untrue. And I never identified them or used any real names. I can’t deny they simply were were not very good parents, but for this post, I’ll just leave it at that.

In recent years, my father and I haven’t been very close. Although my father was most likely a Covert Narcissist or a Borderline, he was not a malignant anything so there was no need to ever go No Contact with him. On many levels we were able to communicate and understand each other. I always felt deep down that he really did love me, or at least tried his hardest to love me. As a young girl and teenager I worshipped him (although there were times I grew very angry too, and would tell him I hated him).

During my teens and even into my early 20’s, we always got together on the weekends and it was always a fun, exciting event, no matter what we decided to do. He’d take me out to my favorite restaurants and let me order as much as I wanted to eat, without criticizing my weight or making me feel self conscious. He took me on road trips and all kinds of day-long excursions. I always looked forward to our time together and always felt he took a genuine interest in the things going on in my life. I felt comfortable talking to him about my problems and concerns, when I never felt that way talking to my mom. I knew my dad was far from an ideal parent in many ways, but I did feel his love for me.

In recent years, geographic distance, lack of funds to travel, my dad’s progressive Parkinson’s which made movement and speech increasingly difficult, and personal differences have caused us to drift apart. He remarried in the early ’80s, and his current wife hasn’t always approved of my lifestyle or values. The last time we spent any time together was in 2005. That is a very long time–a long enough time that any intensity of feeling you may once have had begins to fade, even if it’s your own parent.

I knew he hadn’t been well for a long time, due to his Parkinson’s and other problems. But my father tried to take good care of himself, and his extremely devoted wife did everything she could to help him. My dad always, always carried a positive, upbeat, can-do attitude about life and aging. I spoke to him on the phone every month or so (sometimes a bit less) and no matter what else was going on, my dad always sounded happy and contented, and always happy to hear from me.

When I got the phone call from my mother on Friday, I knew his time on earth was coming to a close. His kidneys began to shut down on Saturday and he was admitted to hospice, where he died on Monday. When the call came, I wasn’t surprised. I thanked my mother for letting me know, hung up and remember just feeling sort of…nothing. I went about my usual activities, albeit with a bit of wistfulness. I did spend some time thinking about him, and looking at old photographs of the two of us. But I didn’t feel anything resembling grief or bereavement, and I didn’t cry.

I went online to find out if this lack of feeling was normal. I felt a lot of guilt for not feeling more emotion, for not being able to cry. I read about Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’ Five Stages of Grief. The first stage is Denial, which is often accompanied by emotional numbness, similar to PTSD. But I wasn’t in denial! I knew my father was dead. I just wasn’t particularly upset about it. Of course I wasn’t happy about it; I just didn’t feel too much of anything. I thought there must be something terribly wrong with me. When I went back to work this morning everyone wanted to hug me and comfort me which was strange because I just felt…normal. I just wanted to get busy working.

Tonight I think I feel a little more emotion. Not exactly sad, but wistful and nostalgic which is close enough. I rummaged in my closets for more photos, and I found the lovely one of us taken at his home in the summer of 1983 when he was still active and in great health and I was young and sporting big 1980’s hair.

I feel grateful for the good times my dad and I shared. The times we laughed together, watched a movie, ate a delicious meal, took a long drive, and had a heart to heart talk (yes, we did even have those sometimes). We had the same offbeat sense of humor and love of the random, shared a fascination with geography and science, and loved all sorts of word games. No, he wasn’t a great parent, but he wasn’t the worst either, and he was aware he wasn’t a good parent when I was a kid. We had love for each other though, and that’s all that really matters at the end of the day.

Maybe I’m unable to cry because my C-PTSD makes it so difficult for me to access and feel my emotions anyway. I’m going to talk about this in therapy tomorrow.
Or maybe it’s just normal to feel an emotional distance when you and your parent haven’t seen each other in 11 years, and is really nothing to worry about.  I feel some regret that I didn’t have the opportunity to see him one last time before he died.

Dad, I am thinking of you, and I know one day I’ll see you again.

15 thoughts on “On losing my dad.

  1. My brother passed away a year ago next month and I still haven’t cried for him. I just felt in shock for the longest time, and felt like he could walk the the door of my parents’ house any moment. He could be verbally abusive at times, so we weren’t really close. I think that’s why I haven’t cried for him. I talked to my psychiatrist about it. She said that it was probably because we weren’t that close that I didn’t cry for him when he passed away. But I felt guilty for quite a while, like I should cry for him.

    I would talk to your therapist about it just for your own peace of mind. I hope it helps to know that you’re not the only one who feels this way.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Joyce , it does help and i’m probably over-thinking this. I’m very sorry about you losing your brother, even though you didn’t really grieve that much either.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I like the pic of you with your dad. I would not feel bad or guilty for how you respond. Relationships are such a hard thing to have to say this is how we should react. Everyone’s life has many different circumstances that make up how respond to something. You need to allow yourself to feel whatever you need to feel. There is no right or wrong way to grieve. Your dad knew you loved him and from looking at your pic he loved you too. Hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is very sad news. But, stay positive-minded. Losing someone dear to you and then recovering from the associated emotional trauma is a difficult and sensitive task. Now is the time to dream more and get well soon. Click on About Me to get to my Facebook page and find articles on Lucid Dreaming: http://writersdojo.blogspot.ca


  4. You’ve acknowledged his passing, but I would have to think it takes time to internalize it emotionally. Trying to make ourselves feel this or that (including guilt) is not letting nature run its course; it will happen when it happens.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. ‘one last time before he died’ I think that regret is universal but how can it be avoided unless you are there in the final moments? I’m sorry to hear your news and I hope you are able to find peace about your relationship, which it looks like you are already on the path to finding.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I really like the picture of the two of you. I think that we all grieve in our own way.
    The fact that you haven’t seen your father in such a long time is going to make things a little wonky for you, but that doesn’t mean you won’t grieve. It just may not be the typical process you would expect. (((((Hugs()))))))

    Liked by 1 person

  7. My father and I always had a problematic relationship, and I wasted a lot of time and effort trying to fix it, even long after I was old enough to know better. By the time I hit middle age I’d pretty much given up, and my visits to him became less and less frequent. I might have felt guilty about it, had it not been for the fact that he never seemed to get any pleasure out of my visits. By that time I had forgiven him for the damage he’d done to me, but I had no desire to spend any more time with him than was absolutely necessary. When he finally died ten years ago after many years of deteriorating health, I felt nothing. It was like reading an obituary in the newspaper for someone I hardly knew. Everyone expected me to be distraught, and I felt a little weird about the fact that I wasn’t. Even a couple of close friends who really should have known better — women who had also had abusive fathers, and who were fully aware of what my relationship with my father had been like, expected me to go all to pieces when he died. That genuinely baffled me. I was thinking, Are you kidding? You know what my dad was like, you know all the ways he messed me up, you know I’ve had almost no relationship with him for years — and you expect me to mourn his passing, and feel as if I’ve suffered a devastating personal loss?

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m sorry you had such a bad relationship with your father, and yeah, I totally understand the weird way you feel when people (even those who shouldknow better) expect you to cry and go to pieces, and you’re just not feeling anything.


  8. OH! He died!
    Didn’t know that when I visited your other post before this!
    I am sorry.
    Didn’t cry either when my mom died on June 1, 2012.at 1:30 pm. Don’t know why.
    Just got addicted to something. Yeah.


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