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New to Site, My dad passed away


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Throughout my childhood, I do not recall any terrible deaths that would have drastically changed my life. However, at the age of 18, I experienced a loss that still affects me to this day and will for the rest of my life. On August 25, 2007, around 7 a.m., I woke up to a phone call that I will never forget. For the five weeks prior, I was at Ohio University for my first semester as a college student. I was planning on attending for OU for the next four years as well, until I received this phone call that has forever changed me. I was spending the week between classes at my grandma’s house in Marietta, Ohio and my mom and I had arrived just the night before. That Saturday morning, the person on the other end of the line was an employee of my dad’s who urgently needed to speak to my mom. After the phone call, I walked into the kitchen to talk to my mom and figure out what the big deal was. I saw my grandma sitting in her chair with several tissues in her hand. Then I looked at the tears welling up in my mom’s eye and I could tell that this was certainly a big deal. She spoke those three words that sent us both into tears, “Your dad died.”

My dad was only 46 years old and his death occurred suddenly. We found out later that it was due to a heart attack. Unfortunately, he was not able to call for help and he passed away in our home. After a short while of my dad not coming out to his barn to prepare for the work day, one of his employee’s came up to the house, thinking he may have over slept. Again, with no response, his employee entered the house and found him lying on the living room floor. He immediately called the police and shortly after, called me.

My initial reaction was that of both shock and regret for not having the time to apologize for the argument we did not get to resolve about two weeks before. After making a few more calls to share the devastating news, my mom and I started back on the long, five hour drive home. It rained almost the whole way, making the news seem even more unbearable. In addition, my phone seemed to be constantly ringing with people asking questions that I did not have the answers to. When we finally arrived home later that afternoon, there were already plenty of people at my house, including my younger brother. While I was thankful for the support of loving family and friends, all I really wanted to do was curl up somewhere and be left alone. I was more confused and devastated than I ever remembered being. But of course, that was not about to happen anytime soon. My grandma insisted that I help fold laundry and do other tasks around the house, seemingly to distract the both of us for a short time. Because I had been away at college for the past month, it seemed strange to be folding my family’s laundry, especially those clothes belonging to my dad.

The news came to a shock to every person we told. It just seemed to be unreal. He was alive and with us all just the day before. On our way home from my grandma’s house, I called my counselor I had known for a couple years. When I told her, I remember her reaction and she asked, “Your dad... as in your father?” It truly came as a shock to everyone. Traditionally, my dad’s side of the family gathered at our house every year for a family reunion. That summer was no different and the reunion was just two weeks before. While everyone was trying to take the unfortunate news in, we all spoke about how much he enjoyed seeing his family just a couple weeks before. When my family told my great grandma, a nurse in her assisted living facility had to give her muscle relaxers because we knew it would be particularly hard for her. Up until she was put into assisted living, my dad was the one who cared for her from an hour away. They talked on the phone every day and he would take time off work to drive her to doctor’s appointments.

At that time, there was more support than I ever would have imagined. Several family members took a whole week off of work to stay with my mom, my brother and me. My aunt, who is also a trauma nurse, did a great job at helping us plan for the unexpected funeral. My dad owned his own landscaping business and his best friend of 40 years dropped what he was doing to help our family close his business. My dad was in the middle of several landscaping jobs so his friend worked with my dad’s employees to complete to jobs and then assisted us with closing everything. At times, the support seemed overwhelming. Since I had been in Athens, OH for the past five weeks, all of my belongings were packed in boxes in my mom’s car. Every time I went outside to get something, it was almost a guarantee that someone would follow behind me to see where I was heading and to make sure everything was alright. At one point, I remember whispering to my mom that I was going to walk to my best friend’s house, across the street, just to get away for a little while. I knocked on the door and when my friend answered, I was barely inside and she embraced me and we both just cried. Her mom came out a few minutes later and also held me and cried with me. But looking back, I would not change the love and support from my family and friends because it absolutely meant the world to me during such a difficult time.

I also found that even the funeral home staff was extremely helpful and supportive through the arrangements, showing and service. I remember the whole event as if it just happened last week and I’m sure those vivid memories will stick with me for years to come. I think one of the most uplifting parts about the funeral service was when we had to ask the staff to bring out more chairs because of the amount of people who attended. And despite the additional chairs, there were still people who had to stand throughout the service. That was a wonderful feeling for me because it made me realize how many people truly cared about my dad and were there to pay their respects. It also showed how many people came to show their love and support of the family and that will never be forgotten.

I feel that losing my dad at such a young age and during an important stage in my life has really made a profound impact on the person that I am today. I have learned to no longer take things for granted and I certainly understand now how fragile and delicate life can truly be. It had turned me into a much more relationship-oriented person and it has taught me to always remind those around me to express my love for them. I have also learned to live more in the moment and to make each day count.

Since the loss of my dad, I have experienced several other losses as well. Both of my great grandmas and my aunt have passed away. They were all difficult to experience but it will never amount to what it felt like losing my dad. I hope plenty of time passes before I have to deal with such a horrific loss again.

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I am very sorry to hear about the sudden death of your father, who was so young at the time of his unexpected passing. He sounds like a wonderful man, and it certainly sounds like you have a great supportive network.

You have moved forward well in your grief journey. You sound like you are on solid footing and have a good grasp on life and how important relationships truly are.

My brother died in a car wreck when I was fourteen. I will never forget every second of the entire ordeal. It left the same profound impact on me that you have experienced. My family, too, is incredibly supportive. I never ever leave someone's house angry, and I tell the people that I love how much they mean to me constantly, even when I am arguing with them.

I am glad you told your story. Despite your tragedy, you sound positive and well adjusted. Thank you for coming here.


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Hi Emily,

I'm sooo sorry for your loss. I too lost my father. He passed away the day after Christmas. It certainly is hard but like another said,

day by day and hour by hour. I just found a bearevement group that meets on Wed nights, maybe you have one in your area?

hugs to you :)

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