Coping With the Death of Your Father

As a little girl, I always imagined my father walking me down the aisle.  As a woman, the idea that my father would not be at my wedding was  overwhelming. It was a thought that I had never before contemplated.

On a Saturday night, my father called and left a message for me.  It was late, so I decided to call him the next day.  I listened to the message and he sounded better than he had in months, having battled radiation and chemo for such a long time. 

Fast forward to Sunday morning.  I was asleep when I heard the phone ring.  It was my mother and she was frantic.  “Your father is dying. I’m on my way to the hospital.” My father had been taken by ambulance to the hospital.  It was Memorial Day weekend and I was two and a half hours away in another city.  My brain shut down for a few seconds, unable to truly comprehend what was going on.  I repeated my mother’s words to my husband and went into a panic.  “Just go,” he said.  “I’ll be right behind you in ten minutes.”  I threw on some clothes, grabbed my car keys and sped down the highway. About twenty minutes later, my mom called again.  “Daddy died.  They tried working on him for an hour but they couldn’t save him.”

When your father passes away, there is a tremendous amount of sadness that is associated with his death.  It is indescribable.  As a little girl, I always imagined my father walking me down the aisle. As a woman, the idea that my father would not be at my wedding was overwhelming. It was a thought that I had never before contemplated.

Death is a part of life but nothing prepares you for the death of a parent.  You are suddenly planning a funeral, writing an obituary, and existing in a space between living and remembering that seems so foreign.  It took me a month before I truly grieved for my father and to grasp the fact that he was no longer here.  It was sparked by me trying to call him.  I scrolled through my cell phone for his number.  I had forgotten that he was gone.

I walked down the aisle without my father.  My oldest brother took his place and my bouquet had a ribbon wrapped around it with a picture of my father.  After our first dance, we chose not to include our parents.  The thought of my father not being there to dance with his little girl was just too much for me.  My husband understood and was completely supportive.

My husband (then boyfriend) was amazing during the entire grieving process.  Funerals are so similar to weddings because everyone comes out to celebrate a new life…without their loved one.  My husband was there for me, my mom, my brothers, and my entire family.  On Memorial Day, after spending two full days around my husband, my aunt whispered in my ear, “He’s a keeper.” 

How your significant other supports you through a tragedy is extremely telling.  It is something that you cannot test out before it happens.  But my husband made sure that he supported me in the way that I needed and his family was there to support me as well.  He acted without be asked. My aunt was right…he is a keeper and I will never forget how much we grew as a couple through the loss of my father.