The heartache of losing a parent

One of the biggest trials a person will ever go through in life is losing a loved one such as a parent. Unless someone passes away before their parents, which in most cases is unlikely, a day will come when we have to say goodbye to someone who has played a major role in raising us and shaping our lives. Sometimes that loss will come as expected. Perhaps your mother or father has developed some sort of terminal disease and their death is very imminent. Other times, the death is sudden such as in a tragic traffic accident. Whatever the case may be, losing a loved one such as a parent is like losing a part of who you are.

A little over 10 years ago to this date, I lost my father very unexpectedly. He was clearing snow after a spring snowstorm and suddenly collapsed. The shock of that event still lingers with me today. My dad was way too young to die. He was only in his late 50’s. I still remember that awful night like it was yesterday. I was sitting at home watching the NCAA basketball tournament when my phone rang. Thinking that it was a telemarketer, I did not pick up. The game was on and I did want to be disturbed. Then I realized I had a message and decided to check. It was my mother telling me to call home. It was an emergency. My heart sank when I heard those words. I called and my mom told me that my dad had collapsed and the words that followed were like someone hitting me in the stomach with a sledgehammer. He had passed away. I didn’t know what to say after hearing that. I was totally floored by the news and speechless. I told my mom that I would call her back after I regained my composure. I immediately turned off the game and sat in stunned silence for a couple of hours.

The days after his death were very difficult to say the least. There were a lot of tears and hugs among our family members. I can remember arriving at my parents house and the first person that greeted me at the door was my grandmother (my dad’s mother) she gave me the biggest hug. Being together with family members was the best therapy for dealing with this loss. We all had many stories about my dad and what a special person he was. He loved his family and would do anything to help us out. I thought back of all those rounds of golf that I played with my father. He was an excellent golfer and I was never able to beat him. In the previous few years, we had attended a few ball games together and those memories were still fresh in my mind. It just seemed strange arriving at my parent’s house and not seeing my dad sitting there in his favorite recliner. But funny as this may seem, his calming presence seemed to be there.

My dad has been gone for over 10 years now, but he will never be forgotten. I sense his presence ever time I go out and play golf. He probably gets a good chuckle from up there in heaven when I hit a bad drive into the woods.  I was given his golf clubs after he passed away and I still have them. Those are possessions that I will forever keep.

Sometimes we tend to take our parents and loved ones for granted in our lives. We think they will all live to be 90, but that is not always the case. There is no guarantee that they will be there tomorrow. I was guilty of taking my dad for granted. It’s sad but I have a far greater appreciation of him now that he is gone. I know many people who dislike their parents and fail to talk to them for months. Sure parents can be annoying, but the older you become, the more you learn to appreciate what they have done in your life. My mother is still alive today and I make a strong effort to call her at least once a week and several times a year, I travel to visit her. She is an equally important person in my life and I realize that someday, I might wish that I had spent more time visiting with her as well.

Losing a parent is difficult and heartbreaking, but the memories of them will never go away. My dad left behind a legacy of always being willing to take the shirt off his back to help out others. I was very lucky to have him being a part of my life. Sometimes the best way to cope with the grief of losing of parent is to keep their memory and legacy alive in today’s world. My dad has inspired me to use my talents to help out others in need. I’m sure that would have been the one wish that my dad would have given us before he passed away. Sometimes doing little things in their honor can go a long ways in dealing with your loss. Your parent may be gone, but their legacy is very much alive in your own life. That is really the most important thing that any parent would want to pass on to their children. Sooner or later, we all reach a point in our lives when we will want our loved ones and children to have the fond memories and be inspired by our lives. Will that happen? I know people everyday lose a parent and my heart goes out to those people who are grieving right now. I know how you feel because I went through it. Life can be cruel and losing a parent is at the top of the list. The heartache of losing my dad still lingers with me today. I think about how great it would be if he were still living today. But life is not an everlasting thing. What is everlasting is the strong legacy that my dad and many good parents have left for their children and grandchildren. Those things never die.

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