A Father’s Passing: One Year Later

It’s been a year now since my Baba departed this world into the next. Since his death, I wrote several blog posts about him or with significant mention of him:

Writing about my feelings over the past year has helped me. The simple act of getting what’s on the inside to the outside is helpful, of course. But more importantly, the comments I’ve received on my posts either directly on the blog or through discussions with family and friends has helped me learn that what I’m going through is normal. I had never really seen people in mourning. Mourning is such a private thing. Too many people don’t share it, including me. I share it through my writing. But I find it extremely difficult to share it by visibly displaying it. I suppose we don’t want to burden others with our pain. Or maybe we don’t want to appear weak. Or perhaps we know that life is already hard enough for everyone; we might as well deal with our own issues internally so others can get on with their own lives and issues.

Whatever the reason, we tend not to share our mourning with others. And the result for many of us is that we don’t understand the process and we find it difficult to deal with it. This is why I’m going to continue to write about this until I feel I don’t want to anymore. Many people have arrived at my blog by doing a simple Internet search using keywords such as “father”, “death”, “passing away”, etc. This means that there are people out there that need to understand their own mourning process through learning from the experiences of others. I know that I’ve learned much from my readers’ comments. I thank them dearly.

This past year has been very difficult for me. It doesn’t seem to be getting easier. I had expected it would. I thought time heals. It hasn’t; at least not yet. I remember my Baba all the time. Sometimes when I remember him it puts a big smile on my face. Most of the time it causes me to break down crying. I miss him more than I could ever describe. I’ve probably already said this in a previous post: it feels like I have a phantom limb. It feels like a part of me has been amputated but the rest of my body will not acknowledge its absence. I know he’s there. I just know it. But then I look for him and he’s gone. It’s a horrible horrible feeling. This feeling actually makes me feel thankful sometimes. I’m thankful that God knows my limits. Some people have to deal with the loss of more than one family member at the same time. I don’t want to imagine what that must be like. I am fortunate. God is teaching me about death slowly. I would not manage learning the lesson any other way.

I still dream about Baba. But they are more normal dreams as opposed to the dreams of burials that I had in the early days of his death. They are dreams of him still being in my life. He’s just there. And it’s nice to have him back that way. It’s a blessing.

I think the worst of it is when something triggers my memory of difficult times my father went through. This happened last night. A family event reminded me of an incident, several months before my father’s death, that caused him real heart break. He cried for days. My cousin called me while I was in the midst of an emotional breakdown remembering this. “Uncle Abbas is not worrying about these things now,” he told me. “He knows all the details about this incident now and more,” he continued. “And he could care less about them.”

My cousin was right. I know he’s right. This leads me now to understand that sometimes we continue to carry our loved ones’ pain with us even after it has gone away for them. Their pain is as alive in our hearts now as it was in their hearts then. It is for me, at least. I wish I knew how to release that pain. I don’t. This is a lesson I still need to learn.

My father’s death makes me think about my own death when the time comes and the effect it will have on my children. I want them to know how much I love them. I want them to know they are the most wonderful thing that has ever happened to me. If anyone ever tells them that I was angry at them for doing one thing or the other I swear to God I will  haunt that person forever. My children are and have always been perfect. My children need to know that they are free to do with my memory as they please. They can keep it to themselves or they can share it with the world. Their memories of me and their experiences with me are theirs to own and no one else’s. I continue to feel guilty that my father died in a hospital. He wanted to die in his own bed. We had no choice but to take him to the hospital. I know my Baba won’t be angry with us about that. But it still hurts me to think about it. It hurts me immensely. I want my children to know that whatever happens, there is nothing they can do that will make me angry with them (except the fact that they never clean their rooms anymore…that makes me angry!). I want them to live their lives to the fullest. I want them to know they can do whatever it is they want to do with their lives. If they need to be far away from me to do that, then so be it. If they don’t speak with me frequently because they are busy with their own personal stuff, it’s all right. I’ll be all dramatic about it. I know I will. I’ll throw temper tantrums when I don’t get a call once a week from each and every one of them. I promise. But all I really want is for them to be happy. I want them to know that I’m here for them whenever they need me. I had that with my Baba. I always knew I had that. He gave me my sense of security no matter how far away we were from each other. I was blessed.

Kids, when I die, bury me whatever way you see fit and wherever you think is most suitable. At this stage I have no after-death instructions. I may have figured it all out later in life. If not, just do what you think is best. I’ll be dead so it won’t really matter to me.  The only important after-death instruction from me is for you to be happy and to live your lives the way you want to. I’ll be happy no matter what you do as long as you do what you want to do.

A final note to the readers of my blog: my kids don’t read my blog as far as I’m aware. So when I die, can you please direct them here? :-)

 

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14 comments

  1. Family is one of the most complicated bonds one could ever have, if anything happens to anyone out there in the world its Ok, its forgotten, it passes, but the bonds we have with our families make them part of us forever…

    Its Ok to mourn, its ok to feel pain, and cry and remember them, but its most important to realize that everything that happened the way it did happen was meant to be, you couldn’t have changed a thing, and you couldn’t have realized how to deal with things better back then, hold on to the memories, but hold on to the good ones more than the bad ones, the bad ones happened for a reason and that reason is over but the good ones are the ones you shared together happily and they are the ones to be cherished… Life is a phase, and that phase to your father is over, now is the phase to pray for him and thank him for all the good things he taught you, but the important thing is to feel the pain and learn to let it go slowly, and at the same time keep your focus elsewhere, the pain and memories are in one hand and the other hand is your life and how you shape it for you and for the people around you… Your father was your father, and always will be your father, make his memory a happy one, don’t make the thought of him make you sad, unhappy and miserable, try to make the pain and and grief smaller in face of the good things he taught you and the nice times you had together, so that in the future whenever you think of your father you think of those happy moments, not the time of grief that came afterwards… I know it might not seem easy, but try, how we think of things and how we prioritize thoughts in our heads defines everything, I have not been through this type of grief, but I’ve had many other forms of grief, and i have learnt that its important to feel grief and pain really feel it, but that its important to stay aware of our point of focus and lead it to the right direction…

  2. And that final note your wrote for your daughters, I believe that if your father had the chance he would have written the same for you, he would have told you the same exact words, because any parent or anyone who loves anyone in this world wants them to know its ok to let go and wants to be sure they will be happy and wants them to know that they only want whats best for them… Always remember that your father does really want you to be happy and that he does feel the same way you do towards your daughters… even if he never put it in words.

  3. Even I lost my fathers years ago, I was two years in that time. I never experienced your filling. I don’t have any memories with him to miss. I grow up without a need of a father. I didn’t realize the meaning of a childhood with a father. Tel I have my own children, I then found the meaning to have a father and also I found out how much my father lost not to experience my childhood. I admit, as I am a 45 now but as my children grow up, I found my self missing him a bit by bit.
    Now, by reading your post, I find that I missed that filling you have. May be I am lucky to have this gift from Allah. May be I am so fragile to stand this filling. I know it will be the hardest thing for me when I lose my mother. But I know, from my experience, life doesn’t stop and goes on.
    Thank you for sharing a filling I never had.

  4. I’ve been reading the comments to my posts on my father’s passing and they break my heart. I hope that the fact that we’ve all been able to share our grief together has been of some help. I know that it has helped me tremendously to know that what I feel seems to be what is normal to feel when someone so dear to ourselves is lost.

    I need to tell those of you who are just starting to go through this horrible grief that it does get better. The first year after my father’s passing was horrible. I won’t describe it all again. It is here for you to read. But once that first year passed things began to get a bit better. My father still appears to me in dreams. It is always a relief and a blessing to see him. I still cry over his loss but those tears come much less frequently. It’s easier for me to talk about all the good times and the funny things my father did without bursting out into tears. I’ve kept myself very busy to distract me from negative thoughts and feelings and it’s worked. I’ve focused on living my own life, which is here to be lived. There are SO many things I wish I could share with my Baba. Sometimes I’ll be doing something and instinctively think, “I can’t wait to tell Baba about this!” And then I’ll realize with a pang of intense sorrow that I can’t do that anymore. I then hope that maybe he knows or that hopefully I’ll have lots to tell him when we meet in the afterlife, God willing.

    I get through days and sometimes weeks doing very well and then I’ll recall something or something will happen and I fall into a few minutes of deep grief. I’ll cry and cry and cry saying like a child, “I want my Baba..I want my Baba…I want my Baba!” But once I get that intense emotion out of my system I’m back to being well again for another few days or weeks.

    Nothing will ever replace a loved one in our lives. The grief over their loss will remain a part of us forever. But I’m learning that this is part of what life is all about. It’s about gains/births and the happiness that comes with that and it’s about losses/deaths and the horrible pain that comes with those. We are made of happiness and pain, not one or the other. We would not feel such pain had we not had so much happiness with our loved ones. And we cannot appreciate true happiness if we have not been through pain and loss in our lives. It is all of that that makes us who we are.

    I’m grateful. I’m grateful I had so much love and happiness with my father. They are worth the pain I now feel.

    1. I know how yall feel my father passed at age 26 I broke down inside .it mad me sad I thought I would never move on I’m now 12 and I still have not moved on I always think about him if you go on the Internet type in stephen christopher crane groves texas pictures you will see what he looks like I feel sorry for yall and hope you move on

  5. Thankyou for your blogs, I lost my father suddenly to a heart attack just over a year ago. He was a workaholic. He was driving to my nieces third birthday, he had her new bike wrapped in the back seat and was slumped at the wheel on the side of the road so nobody stopped driving past, he looked like he was on the phone. We were all waiting for him at the party and he didn’t show up or answer his phone, he had almost made it there, he was only minutes away from where we were, but mum found him when we went looking. I had a toddler and a 15 week old baby at the time, so I was very alone for the year after, my husband works away from home and my mum and sisters threw themselves into running his company although finacially they didn’t need to and I didn’t see or hear from them at all, they are not hands on at all with my kids, my kids barely know who they are although we live in a samll town together. I missed his funeral and the wake and cremation as my baby was in hospital. I have since felt very distant from my family, like I have lost them all, my older sister has taken over everything, financially decision wise etc and I have been very left out as I was so busy with babies. You mentioned it was like a limb missing, and its so true, I sunk into depression 6 months later, suicidal, overeating, constant crying and so much anger, my poor babies suffered terribly from my grief although I tried really hard to contain it, I had no one to help me cope and no onne knew how bad I was, I hid it from my husband too. It was then I realised it was sink or swim, my marriage was under pressure now and my husband is all I had left. I got up right then mid grieving got on my dusty exercycle cried and screamed and biked for 10 kms, took me an hour, everyday I did this and now I am the fittest and thinnest I have ever been, I lost 26 kgs in 6 months, my depression is gone, I feel normal and strong again.I am still angry and sad, but it is not overwhelming anymore, my whole outlook on life has changed, I am going to be the best I can be, and strive for happiness for my family. My biggest realistion is what its all about, its about spending time with those you love, not things and money etc, money is just to buy us more time thats all kids really want from us, not all the crap, thankyou for sharing and for letting me share my story

  6. Assalamalaikum / Hi Sister Nadia,

    I have been reading your articles or shall we say blogs you wrote about your late father. I am also going through this right now and its really hard to live in this way and knowing that the one who brought you up is not around you anymore. Its been 3 weeks now and i am still in shock that my father is not around. He was just 48 when he left us but you know what he is back to where he was came from. My father suffered a lot in his last two months. He had liver cancer and the pain was ridiculous. I will soon post the story how he and my family went through his last 2 months of life. Thanks for sharing your feelings.

  7. Your method of describing the whole thing in this article is in fact pleasant, every one be able to effortlessly be aware of it, Thanks a lot.

  8. I was trying to find a way to private email you but I will hope that you get this reply. I have a very similar story to yours regarding your father. My father died almost two years ago Nov. 2- He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and then passed away two weeks later. I was 42. I always was very close to my Dad and am still struggling with the grief. The past 2 months have been pretty rough and I’m not sure if it is because I have been off of work and have more time on my hands or if some of it is hormonal. I seem to cry all the time. Sometimes it is for a brief time only but it is everyday. I just purchased a book called The Grief Recovery Handbook because I know I am “stuck” and not sure how to work through these feelings of missing my father so much.
    Have you found any ways to cope that have helped you through?

    1. I can’t help to write you after I read your comments .I am going through exactly the same as you are. I tried everything , councilor ,pastor, friends , they seem to ease the pain a little bit, but afterwards ,it hurts again. I was so desperate one day, I went to see my family doctor get the prescription drug for depression , and I ended up in bed because of the side effect . I finally made a decision to go on a mini trip for three days, I wouldn’t say it turn everything upside down, but it gave a break. I was staying at home, my life is in a same cycle everyday , I always feel sad in the afternoon , it’s more like a biological alarm, goes off in the same time, so break up the routine , that’s whatIam trying to do.

  9. I lost my father almost a month ago. I’m 19,and I miss him so much! I want to see him one last time. I was away studying when he passed away. As my aunt and her husband drove me home,I had no idea. She said that she was going to take me to my father because she knew I missed him alot. I really wanted to hug him that day. I wanted him to tell me he loved me one last time. I wanted him to know how much I loved him and how much I felt blessed for being his daughter. I wanted him to hug me so tight in his arms as he used to do. The whole ride was terrible. I had a feeling that something was wrong. My father had been sick fo a year and a half by that time. I used to stay with him in the hospital. There were times when he couldn’t even speak or go to the bathroom by himself.My mother was always there for him, through better or worse. The night before his death, he called me and told me that he was proud of me and that he had faith in me.
    By the time I got to where my parents lived, my aunt told me that my father is a bit sick and that we’re going to the hospital,and so i put on my happy face because i didn’t want him to see me sad. I never wanted him to know how sad i felt when he goes to the hospital. I wanted him to feel that everything is okay and that i’m always there for him.
    Once we got inside the hospital, my uncle came to me and hugged me so tight and then started crying and walked away. At that time, I felt like the world crashed around me. My aunt did the same and then her husband took me in his arms and said”Allah yar7mou”(may he rest in peace). I started crying and i yelled “NO NO NO!!”.
    A friend of the family asked me to go see my father one last time before they took him. At first, I couldn’t.But then,he told me that if I didn’t i would regret it for the rest of my life,so i wiped my tears and i walked toward the room where he was laying. I saw my mother,my sister and my brother,but all i wanted to do at that time was to go to my father! I kissed his forehead and it was so cold. He looked so peaceful. It was just like he was asleep. His hear was brushed to the side and he had a smile on his face. He looked so handsome.
    The next day, they brought him to our home to “wash” him. It’s a thing muslims do. I sat and waited for him. I couldn’t feel or hear anything. But then someone came in and told my mom that he had arrived. I couldn’t help but cry. I didn’t want to cry and so I forced myself to stop.I got up and held my mother’s hand and told her that everything was going to be okay.
    We weren’t close to his side of the family because they weren’t good people and they didn’t love us. They only wanted his money. Even after he died,they cryied because they miss his money and they actually told my mom that. His own mother said that. She didn’t miss her son! She wanted his house and his cars.
    My father lost his father when he was 12 yo. He never talked about his feelings.
    I had never lost anyone before my father and I had never known what death was and how it felt like loosing someone you love so much.
    He was going to have a surgery to get better and to be okay. He would always say to me “Once i get better, I will have a big get-together and i will feed homeless people and i will go with my brother to el hajj” but his brother is such a horrible person. He was angry because he bought sement and bricks to build his grave.
    He loved life so much. He used to sing to us all the time. He used to make us laugh. He used to dance all the time.Everytime he hears music he would either sing along or get up and dance. He was a great person. Now i can’t sing or laugh or dance or do anything because it all reminds me of him and it makes me sad.
    I don’t know how to cope with this loss.
    I’m sorry if this is too long but i just wanted to get this off my chest. Thank you for your posts.

  10. I can’t tell you how glad I am that I found your blog. When I read about your father and how you felt about him, I feel like I’m reading about me and my Dad. I just lost him 6 days ago and the pain is unbearable. We are Egyptian too. I was born and raised mostly in the States. I’m 43 and have 2 kids who adored their Giddu. That is one of the things will miss the most… Seeing the joy on his face whenever he laid eyes on them. I am hurting pretty badly right now. It is a bit discouraging to read that a year later, it is not easier. I can’t imagine being in pain like this for the next year. Hopefully like you said, it will be shorter bouts of crying with the pain less intense. I don’t know how old this blog is, but I hope you will keep journaling here. Albaqa lilah

  11. I lost my dad nearly 2 years ago. I have found comfort in the fact that he had his fatal heart attack while dancing at a party with friends and family. He told my niece shortly before he collapsed that if he died that night…He would die happy. Unfortunately the words were prophetic.

    I miss dad every day. I wish he could be here to do all we did together. I wish we could be on the stream with our fly rods. I wish most he had more time with my son and got to see his rugby matches. I wish we had time together training my dog to bird hunt…dad always encouraged me to get a hunting dog since mom would not let him have one. I don’t think that will ever change.

    At the time of his death, my favorite band (Rush) had released a song called “The Garden.” I still cry every time the song plays on my mp3 player. I get hit every time the lyrics say “the measure of a life is a measure of love and respect, so hard to earn, so easy to burn.” This line reminds me always of how dad lived.

    Thanks for your blog.

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