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My dads heart stopped in his sleep


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I’m having trouble coping with the fact that my dad passed away in his sleep. He was my best friend. I saw him everyday for the last 8 years. He was a few days short of his 71st birthday and we had plans to go out and celebrate. He was extremely active and would cycle everywhere. He even helped me do my roof. He left on Tuesday after coffee, turned around and looked at my 3 y/o daughter and said “this is what life’s about”(He had just finished telling me how he loved the phase she was in with her imagination and starting to talk and develop a personality). He went out for a fat bike ride with his friends who told me after he was out of breath on the way back which was unusual. He drove home after and went to bed and never woke up. I went over the next day and found him still tucked in bed cold and deceased. The coroner said he had an enlarged heart, coronary artery disease and a 70% blockage on the left side. He just went for a checkup/bloodwork 4 months prior and was given the OK. I feel like we were robbed. I’m happy for all the wonderful memories but always end up circling back to the “what if’s”. My mom who is a nurse is usually home but went on vacation with a friend for 3 weeks and his phone was dead(plugged in where it usually is but the charger wasn’t working). I wish i would of got to say my goodbyes. Has anyone else here experienced a sudden unexpected loss?

(My daughter shared a birthday with him and she was named after his mother they had such a special bond i always loved watching them spend time together. It kills me i’ll never be able to see that again)

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Hi Jeff. My father passed the same way. He told my mother he had pulled a muscle during exercise that day (he exercised 3 hours every day of his life) and he said his sternum was sore. My mother urged him to go to the hospital but he said no. He told her he would call for her if it got worse. She checked on him 2 hours later, and he had passed in his sleep in his favorite recliner chair. This was 2 months before he turned 71.

He was also my best friend. He was the only person who understood me. He passed 5 days before my birthday, which was extremely difficult. I also had a 2 year old and a 4 year old at the time. Losing him while my children were so young was the most difficult part I think, aside from it being so unbelievably sudden. I woke up to a phone call saying he had passed. We have video of him the night before, laughing and having a wonderful time and looking completely normal.

My father also had coronary artery disease, and he had seen his cardiologist literally 7 days before he passed. His cardiologist told him he was doing great, didn't do a stress test, and sent him on his way.

There are many people we can blame in life, or guilt we can feel for this kind of passing. It has been almost 3 years for me now, and I have had anger at myself, my mother, his doctors, and anger at my father. There are always what-ifs, but dwelling on them only worsens the pain. I'm a nurse myself, and I did not see a thing wrong with my father's health. That always sends chills up my spine, thinking I could have seen or done something to save him.

Anyway. I so feel your pain, and I grieve for your loss as well. It sounds like your parents were married like mine were. My mother was devastated, and I really babied her for about a year and helped her through everything. It helped me to support her when my father couldn't. It also helped so much to hug my children and my spouse. Sometimes sleeping next to my daughter gave me immense comfort.

For now, here is my advice from 3 years out: don't forget to take care of yourself. My grief counselor always tells me "fake it till you make it". Force yourself to get up, force yourself to brush your teeth. Force it until it becomes routine again. Don't be afraid to call a counselor. Don't be afraid to reach out to your doctor if you need medication to cope. Don't avoid going to your parents' house. I'm sure it's super painful, but avoiding it will prolong the grief of visiting. I used to HATE going to visit their house, knowing he wouldn't be there. But honestly, going there and sitting in that chair he passed in gives me comfort. This will likely be one of the worst years of your life. It's the sad truth to this type of passing. Know that there are others that have been through this, and that we support you.

I wish you all the best on this journey. Just know, your father loved you, and he knew that you loved him. I wish I could have said goodbye as well, but deep in my soul I know that I would have used the opportunity to tell him he was the very best father, and I loved him so much. It gives me peace to know that he already knew.

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