Saturday, June 16, 2007

Forever Father

Several years ago, I wrote a letter to a woman who was devastated by the death of her father.

Having lost my own father in 1987, and being at the stage of life where many friends have suffered the same loss, I think it's safe to assume that human emotions after a beloved father's death are universally shared. As my own children are facing their second Father's Day without their Dad, I thought it would be fitting to reprint the letter for them.

If you're fortunate enough to have your father here with you, I wish you a joyful celebration of Father's Day tomorrow.


Dear Kristine and Matt,

The death of a dear parent is such an overwhelming loss on so many levels that it seems almost unbearable. Somehow we find ourselves going through the motions of daily life, but we move as though underwater, in a dark well of loneliness that shows no exit. We feel completely lost, badly injured, irreparably damaged. In many ways, we are all of those things. Life’s wheel has moved forward, and things can never be the same.

Yet your father will always be your father, and you will always think of yourselves as his daughter and his son. His physical presence is no longer here, but the emotional and spiritual bonds of your love for each other will endure. Not a day goes by that I do not think of my own father, sometimes fleetingly, often in more depth, but always with joy and pride that he was my father. When I grapple with a challenging decision, I ask myself what Dad would do or what he might advise me to do. Unfailingly, when applying this method, I arrive at a good solution. My father is still very much a part of my everyday life. I believe that time will lead you to the same comforting discovery. You will learn that the parent-child relationship transcends death and lives on.

This is not to minimize the loss you have suffered, which is staggering. It is true that no one on earth ever loves us as a good father does. We never feel quite so safe again after his death. When he leaves this earth, our first champion, our best protector, is gone from us. The loss of your father is bottomless; there is no end to the missing of him.

But the love and good memories you shared, he leaves behind to sustain you. Just as he provided all the necessities of life for you as a child, your father’s love will continue to nourish you for the rest of your days. This is one of life’s precious gifts over which death is, quite simply, powerless.