The death of a parent is not a new topic. If anything, it’s as cliche as it gets. I honestly feel like this area has become saturated. When my dad died, so many people tried to tell my family how we could cope. And I don’t want to be rude, but my god, they were useless.
Not that they were dumb suggestions. It’s just that how you look at your parent varies individually. To you, your dad could be a shining beacon of goodness and everything right in the world. But to others, they might just be a figurehead to associate a person with the title.
Why My Dad?
My dad was everything to me. He was the kind of dad who knew I once smoked cigarettes and never judged me for all the other shit I’ve done.
He was my best friend, the only person at home who knew that I got sent to the ER on a second date due to gastritis brought on by too much alcohol.
He knew when I was hurt before I could muster up the courage to talk to him about it. He’d always leave forehead kisses at 5 a.m. on Monday mornings before he left for work in another state. He’d be the last person to wish me a safe flight before take-off and the first one to check up on me whenever I landed.
Naturally, I was furious at the world for taking away the only semblance of a “parent” I’d had for most of my life.
I’m not ungrateful for my mom. I am thankful for her. Because of her relationship with my dad, I realized what I wanted in my partner.
Theirs was the definition of unconditional love. My mom wasn’t the easiest person to deal with. She depended on my dad for literally everything, and he gave them to her.
She lost her identity; he lost his life outside work and family. My dad gave her most of his time and resources, so my brother and I had no choice but to become independent.
While my brother and I are mostly capable of handling our own, there was a nagging feeling of jealousy at the sight of our mom getting spoiled. It’s not that we wanted to be treated to shopping sprees (unlike her), but maybe we were just looking for validation. Something to confirm that we were “good kids.”
My dad’s death not only took a toll on me and my brother but also took away my mother, who, instead of stepping up for her children, dissolved into the abyss of her own grieving.
The (Financial) Aftermath
I’ve been helping with the family finances for years now, so the adjustment to that aspect wasn’t that big of a flip. Like a lot of families, my dad has been the primary provider.
We split the mortgage between me, him, and my mom. But he provided maybe 80% of everything we needed in the house – utility payments, salary for the help, and groceries.
As a government employee, the family left behind receives death benefit checks. For the past year and a half, that’s what we’ve been living on. My dad was the most selfless person I know, and even in death, he ensured we could survive.
It’s almost at a point of depletion now, and we’re dealing with the challenge of racking up to make ends meet.
There was also the problem of finishing the mortgage payments. When Dad was still alive, they planned to use one of their retirement payouts to finish the house and relieve me of my obligation.
A restructuring is necessary. While I offered to help to have our own house, I didn’t sign up for a 15-year tie-down.
My mom had a plan for everything, but I had no idea what it was. Whenever I asked about it, she’d mope and get defensive. I’d be lying if I said that the mortgage didn’t put my life on hold. Was it so bad that I wanted to know when or if it could end?
Emotions Taking Over
I had to move quickly from being a grieving daughter to the person who made sure the house would still be running. My dad’s death not only caused disarray in our finances but it also made me compartmentalize hard.
I thought I was doing well at it, to be honest. After a few weeks, I returned to work, stepped up in managing the house’s daily expenses, and tried to stay present for my family. But it got the best of me.
Some days, I’d snap at my boyfriend over the most minor things. On other days, I’d shut myself out from the world and not move at all. I thought I was doing great in helping my family, but I came off as distant because I chose to work and wasn’t as present as they liked.
Much to my boyfriend’s dismay, I didn’t address the trauma this entire shebang cost me. I could barely afford to care for myself, much less find the time and resources to break down my feelings and why I felt it.
But I was bottling it up, and I could feel it. It was like a kettlebell on my chest that got heavier every time I woke up. I dragged myself into pretending I was fine, filling my days with errands (some of which I made up) to distract me from my emotions.
A Year and A Half Later
I’m still mad at the world for taking my dad from me. But I’m now able to see why he had to go first. It still hurts when I think of everything he couldn’t do with me, with us as a family, but I’ve somehow accepted the situation.
The list of things that need resolving is still endless. One problem goes, 5 to 10 more come up, but I think I can handle my emotions better.
The pain of dealing with my dad’s death is unmatched. It’s like you’re suddenly a walking hollow shell of a person with an irreparable hole inside. But I guess it gets easier. I hope it does.