An Aged Father's Death



When Fathers Die

A 62 year-old man wrote me about his father's recent death. David had been very close to his father and he was not getting much sympathy from friends or loved ones, especially from the other men in his family. In fact, one uncle (the deceased man's younger brother) had ridiculed his nephew for being childish: "Parents die, kid. Time to grow up." David was hurt and angered by his uncle's remark and asked me if his feelings of deep grief were abnormal or signs of weakness on his part. Here is my response:

Dear David,

I am so sorry for the death of your beloved father. Grief is our expression of love for the dear ones who have died. My prayer for you is that eventually the rawness and vulnerability you're feeling now will ease, and the day will come when dismissive comments will not hurt as much. In the meantime, know that your deep sense of loss is a natural response to the death of your precious father, whatever his age or however old you are--and you don't have to explain that to anyone.

Of course parents die, we all die. What your insensitive uncle fails to understand is that even though parents die, that fact doesn't mean you were ready to give your father up, or that you hurt less because he was old. The grief associated with the death of elderly parents is minimized because it doesn't carry the tragedy of premature death. That somehow, because it is in the natural order of things, it doesn’t hurt. This is untrue, at least for you and me.

As grief writer Ken Doka says, If you were twelve years old, no one would believe it odd that you would grieve the loss of your {dad}, so why do we assume it is easier fifty years later? Those fifty additional years carry even more shared memories.

Consider these thoughts about loss from the book On Grief and Grieving by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross and David Kessler:

Losses are very personal and comparisons never apply. No loss counts more than another. It is your loss that counts for you. It is your loss that affects you.

Your loss is deep and deserves your personal attention without comparison. You are the only one who can survey the magnitude of your loss. No one will ever know the meaning of what was shared, the deepness of the void that shadows your future. You alone know your loss….

….Your task in your own mourning and grieving is to fully recognize your own loss, to see it as only you can. In paying the respect and taking the time it deserves, you bring integrity to the deep loss that is yours.

There is a well moderated grief discussion group that you might find supportive, but only you know how to grieve your father's death. You don't have to write anything but sometimes just reading other entries is helpful. 

I'll leave you with a poem. It helped me when my father died. I hope it comforts you a little, too.

My Father's Death
By May Sarton

After the laboring birth, the clean stripped hull
Glides down the ways and is gently set free,
The landlocked, launched; the cramped made bountiful--
Oh, grave, great moment when ships take the sea!
Alone now in my life, no longer child,
This hour and its flood of mystery,
Where death and love are wholly reconciled,
Launches the ship of all my history.
Accomplished now is the last struggling birth,
I have slipped out from the embracing shore
Nor look for comfort to maternal earth.
I shall not be a [son] any more,
But through this final parting, all stripped down,
Launched on the tide of love, go out full grown.

With caring thoughts,
Christine J.

Go to next page: I Can't Believe He's Dead

The Grieving Heart is getting a new home...
Grief has no timetable, but the launch of a new website does: August 1, 2019.                                                                     
The updated design will be easy to use, secure and mobile-friendly.
Please visit again. Thank you!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

My E-mail:

Christine (at) The Grieving Heart (dot) info 

A Word About E-mail: One way to decrease SPAM caused by Internet bots is to deactivate the live address link. You can still contact me by typing this address into your own e-mail program using @, a period, and no spaces, the standard e-mail format. Thank you.

Note to Visitors:
I read and respond to grief email at the end of each month when I update this site. If you need a more timely response, please visit a well moderated grief healing discussion group. It is free to use and requires registration to participate. I am not part of this group, but certified grief counselors are there to help, support and comfort grievers and those who love them. Because the counselors lost funding for the site, they are grateful for voluntary donations.
Why no links to Facebook and other social media? Click here for the answer.   


How complicated and individual mending is,
the time required for healing
cannot be measured against any fixed calendar
Mary Jane Moffat
© Copyright 2008 - 2019 Christine Jette.
All rights reserved.