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My dad was a good man but never went to church in his adult life, I always got the impression, as did my sister, that he didn't think himself worthy, although he would dew anything for almost anybody, gave to worthwhile charities, and was everybodies friend.
my father seldom spoke to me of spiritual matters, so it caught me quite off guard one day when he said right out of the blue.. "If I ever get a chance to meet my maker, I'm going to ask Him why he allowed so many children to suffer. Then he asked me what 1 question I would ask Him. Well, getting caught off guard, and usually being one to confront uncomfortable situations with humor, I replied, "I'd ask Him why it is that men go bald at a young age but hair starts to grow rampid on their ears and butt" I expected my father to laugh at that witty remark, but instead his face turned white as a ghost and he said "YOU CAN'T ASK HIM THAT!" The reason I mention this is because at the funeral, while my mother and siblings were fighting back tears tears, I was sitting in the front row, looking at his casket thinking, Now you get your chance to ask Him your question, prepare Him for mine.
Maybe thats just how I deal with things, easier to laff than cry? I really don't know, all I dew know, is I feel I have often been weak when I should have been strong, and strong when I should have been my weakest. Sure I'm sad he's gone, and I still not sure I realize it. Has anyone else had this experience or any suggestions? I don't feel forcing tears is going to make me feel less like I betrayed the man I most admired in my life. :-3
"Anything worth dewing is worth dewing well"
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I don't think there's a single thing wrong with you or how you reacted/are reacting to your father's death. People always say we all grieve in our own ways and that's true.
Of course you're sad that he's elsewhere now and of course you miss him. Just because you haven't shed a tear doesn't mean those things aren't true. I can only offer my opinion so just take it for whatever you might think it's worth.
We tend to think of a 96 year old as having had a good long life and sometimes, in some ways, this makes an elderly person's passing easier to deal with. I think that holds true for cancer and other illnesses too. There's a point where you accept that death is better than living with an illness. My mother died from cancer on June 4, 2006. Up to a certain point I did what probably we all do, I prayed incessantly for a cure, I even tried to bargain with God; but then it became clear to me that she wasn't going to get better and I had to accept that it was her time to leave. I didn't want her to have any more suffering than what she had already endured so I accepted her dying as a relief to her. Maybe you did a similar thing.
Or...it could be that you haven't fully reckoned with it yet. We have ways of burying in our subconsciouses things we don't want to deal with or can't bear. Maybe it hasn't "hit" you yet. It's only been this year that I have fully realized that my mom's gone. It's in the little things. Like a favorite song or a recipe I need help with. And I "remember" she's not here to ask.
I'll tell you something I did that really shook me. About two months after Mom died, I was in Las Vegas shopping for a friend's wedding. I went into the restroom of our restaurant and was washing my hands and I was thinking what a crappy day it had been. And I thought "I can't wait to get home and see Mom." :-2 That's when it hit me. Up until then, I was just kind of on autopilot. And I felt guilty! Like how could I have forgotten she was gone?!
I do understand how disconcerting it is when you question yourself as to whether or not you're grieving "right." I have done that many times. But as long as you're not knowingly holding in a load of sorrow and despair, afraid to let it go, then whatever you're doing is right.
You say your dad didn't attend church but the person you described had church in his heart. A friend to all, willing to help whenever needed; those are wonderful qualities to have and rare to find.
You haven't betrayed your father. That's just unnecessary guilt you're lugging around. It has no place. This is my own personal feeling but I have always thought that after death the person knows everything they didn't before. Your dad knows you love him and miss him. Count on that. Love is forever and even death has no dominion over that. :)
My advice to you is just to keep on keeping on. If you're not finished with your grief, it will happen in its own time. I don't think it's really something that one can force.
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It is like we knew it would be the last time to talk, and she explained it all to me-that she was going to go home. She asked me when I would be there, and I told her I will be there one day. She sighed, and said she understood. I told her I loved her, and she called me by my childhood name, Susie. She always called me that. :)
Then she told me she was happy, and had lived a long life. Only the last line did her mind falter, as she was slipping into a coma. I have wondered every since that time, since my brother and cousin were there, what they thought of the conversation. She never really talked to them, but woke up before her final breath to see my cousin and smile. (she raised him since he was a child, and became a fine pastor she was very proud of, as we all are) To be there at the final moments of memory, which for her will never fade, as that small portion of grief at their passage, is inside of our hearts. But for me, I know she is there waiting for me, with my father and my other loved ones. I know she will smile down on me from heaven today, when I play the piano and direct the choir at church this morning, because she was there every Sunday for decades when I played at church.
Grief-it is only a moment of time, immeasurable here on Earth's time, one day to be gone when we are all together. That is my belief, and it brings comfort to know she is there and young again, and beautiful and no longer old and in pain, which she never complained about. It was my blessing to have her so many years. May your grief over your father turn into happy memories, for they wait for us all to see again one day.
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