In Appreciation

The last two weeks since my dad has passed has been a whirlwind of activity, of planning and discussing an assortment of details of which I knew nothing about and was completely unprepared for. My emotions have been on a roller coaster ride that everyone tells me is normal.

The tasks of planning my father’s funeral, reception, his burial, and cleaning out his apartment have kept me moving and focused. I’ve had lapses where I forgot where I was or just crumbled into tears, either triggered by a memory or by nothing at all. This is my first experience looking death straight in the face and feeling the loss of a loved one so close.

I now know what loss feels like. I have things I’d like to share; to remember my dad and my thoughts about death. Before, I had been in denial of it. I’m sure I’ll have some tough days ahead, but I’m not afraid of death anymore. I almost feel it’s something we all should discuss although I totally get it if you don’t want to. I feel I have some wisdom to pass on. For those who have experienced loss, perhaps you have words of advice for me.

You can’t avoid death. Hopefully, you can postpone it as long as possible and live a life full of shared memories with the people whom you care about. That’s what it’s all about.

We had a wonderful memorial service for my dad. Unlike other big life events, you have no idea who will come to a funeral. It makes planning a toss up. We planned anywhere from 20 – 100 people. We had about 80, so we were very pleased. The funeral home was packed and, later, my house packed with people. My dad would have loved it. Many people shared stories and memories, and I never heard so much laughing at a memorial service. People even clapped after each speaker. It truly felt like a celebration of his life. The funeral home provided a wonderful photo presentation set to some of my dad’s favorites, Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington and the Vince Guaraldi’s “Linus and Lucy.” It was perfect.

I wrote a poem for him, which I shared with tears and long pauses. My siblings shared their stories, my brother off the top of his head, all much calmer than me. I’ll share my poem later because it’s a bit long.

For now, I just want to thank you for all your thoughts, condolences, for your email messages and comments on Facebook. Your thoughts and prayers provided me with a lot of comfort. It means a lot to hear them. I don’t think I realized how powerful they could be. So, thank you for your kindness, for caring, for reaching out, for taking the time to say a few words. I read all your comments and apologize that I couldn’t respond. Truly, I was overwhelmed by feeling so much at once, for the events that unfolded without any warning, and wanting more than anything to rewind time.

But as my twelve-year-old told me last night as we watched a movie into the wee hours of the night, my dad will always be with me. How did he get to be so smart?

These are for you!
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62 thoughts on “In Appreciation

  1. First of all, thanks for the update because I (and I’m sure others) have been wondering about you. Thank you.

    No matter about many times a person has gone through it, or how prolonged or sudden it can happen, one is prepared for the finality. To me, it seems you have done well … and yes, he’s proud of you.

    My the memories help your healing and make you smile.

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    1. Oh, that’s sweet of you to say, Frank. My community is always so supportive of me. It means a lot.
      I think no matter how it happens, you can never be prepared for the feeling of loss. It is quite traumatic, at least for me. I hope so, Frank. I know he would have loved the service. I am trying to concentrate on the happy memories. Thank you. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m glad you were able to give your dad a send off to be proud of. My dad died some years ago now and I was fortunate to be with him every day of his last week and in the moment of his death…..I am pleased I was able to do that and you sound pleased with how your dad’s farewell panned out.
    I know its late but please accept my condolences.
    I know exactly what you mean when you say its been a roller coaster of a ride. I would say that ride goes on Angie, just becomes a little less steep during the more hectic moments…..take care and your son is right, your dad lives on within you. My dad is around here from time to time and its a good feeling to know I have preserved much of his house for myself and my children.
    Best wishes Michael

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    1. Thank you for your condolences, Michael. You’re not late at all. I would do anything to have him back. Just one more conversation, just one more walk, one more dinner. It has taught me to cherish every day with your loved ones. Even so, I did spend a lot of time with him these past couple of years. I only wish it could have been more. I’m glad you got to spend the final days with your dad. People say it gets easier. I’m glad your dad is hanging by close. I’d like to think mine is nearby. Thank you, Michael.

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  3. Your son is so right. I am so sorry you lost your dad. I know how this feels so if you ever need to chat or talk just send me a message anytime. Remember to take time for yourself to rest if you can. Much peace and love coming to you during this difficult time in your life.

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    1. Thank you, Darla. Oh, I may be taking you up on a chat. Thanks for offering. I really had no idea it would be so tough. One day he was here, the next gone. So hard. Thank you. Big hugs!

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  4. Hi Amy – I was so glad to see this post, because the very act of writing it is a step toward healing and acceptance of loss.Try to take just one day at a time, let yourself feel all of your emotions fully, and know there are many friends here to help you through this. You’ve been in my thoughts and prayers every day – sending you a big hug and much love, Kelly

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  5. It seems more and more Celebrations of Life are happening instead of funerals. I flew out to Seattle last fall for my aunt’s Celebration of Life which actually took place a couple weeks after her small funeral. Like your experience, there was a lot of laughter, sharing of memories, crying, singing, and tale-telling. I saw family I hadn’t seen in years, and though it was difficult knowing I would never see my aunt again, her passing brought together so many people who wouldn’t otherwise have crossed paths. I think our loved ones who leave us would like to see smiles through our tears as we celebrate their lives.

    May you stay strong as you continue to process your father’s passing and work through your grief. We’ll keep you in our thoughts.

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    1. My dad was never one for somber events, not that anyone is. He was such a jokester. I know he would have got a kick out of it and been really proud and happy to see so many smiling faces, Carrie. Like your celebration, many in my bigger family circle only see each other at funerals. It’s kind of sad and we all agreed we need a family picnic for a change. My dad was the baby of 12 kids, so we’ve seen many pass. He has only three siblings living now. Thanks so much for your thoughts and comments, Carrie. They really helped keep me strong and always make me smile. Thank you.

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      1. Isn’t that amazing?! My dad was the baby. It was a different time for sure. I never met her, but she must have been patient with so many mouths to feed and listen to. ha ha.

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  6. Amy, I’m so sorry to read of your dad’s passing. Having just been through this, I understand completely. My brother was the same way – a jokester – and he would not have wanted us crying and grieving for too long. We had a celebration of his life, too. It’s such a wonderful way to say goodbye. Focus on the fun and happy memories you have of your dad. They will bolster you, and if you find yourself crying, they will help you to smile through the tears. I’m thinking of you, Amy.

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    1. Thanks for your uplifting message, Maddie. It is the best thing to remember the good times to get past the sorrow. I will be thinking about that in the days ahead. I’m sorry for your loss. It feels as though my dad has been ripped out of my life, it happened so suddenly. The festive celebration was helpful and comforting. It was nice to be surrounded by family and friends, if only for a few hours. Thanks for thinking of me. 🙂

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  7. A co-worker’s father passed away a couple of weeks ago. The memorial service was this past weekend. He had many of the same comments about that service as you have for your father’s. There’s something about these moments that can bring people together and reinforce the wonderful memories. I’m glad you got to experience that. Neither of my parents and none of my other close relatives have passed away yet. My only experience was about 20 years ago when my best friend passed away. He was about 30 years ago and he had a heart attack. I can tell you that your memories will not leave you and in the years ahead you will focus on all of the things you loved about your father. Sorry for your loss, but, you know, death is just as much a part of life as life is and it’s a part of what we all learn and grow from.

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    1. It really was comforting for the family to be surrounded by friends and family. Although it is a hard time to be in planning mode and it’s the last thing you really want to be doing, in the end, it was really nice. I think everyone there appreciated it and we all needed it. It helps everyone heal and get through a hard time. He was a big part of so many lives. Family members spoke about things that happened before I was ever born. It was nice to hear about them and to see how he affected so many people. He will be missed. I’m sorry to hear that about your best friend. That must have been tough, Mark. I will be focusing on those memories as best I can. So true, as in life, in death. It is the natural cycle. Like you said, a chance to grow. I’ve been evaluating my life ever since. I’d like to think it’s not the end and that he is at peace. 🙂

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  8. How wonderful and fortunate that you’ve had the experience of having a dad like yours. You also have a lot of love around you, which is part of your father’s legacy. My heart is with you and your family.

    When my dad died, I experienced love and spirituality on such a deep level. I can relate to the service that you had for your father. My dad’s service was also amazing and filled with laughter. I used to believe that when my dad died that I would just drop dead, but instead I was carried by love and beauty. We’re very fortunate to have that.

    You’re right for believing that we should be talking about death more. I stared at my dad when he was in a coma, and imagined him saying to me, “Sandee, people die.” I felt that if dad died, it must be an okay thing to do. His energy is out there now, literally, and also in the memories of people I know. You’ll go through the common stages of grief, which is very natural. But remember that your dad loved you and he wants you to live the best possible life. I believe that’s how you celebrate his life. Take care, Amy.

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    1. Oh, Sandee. I love all your comments. We were surrounded by a lot of love. It really makes a difference at a time like this and helps to heal. I’m sorry to hear about your dad. I always thought I would say goodbye to my dad in a hospital. Many have shared with me that that is painful in a different way. It feels like each day I carry around a heaviness and I want so much to wake up and for it be all a bad dream. I will just have to know people are here to help me. Like you, thanks for your comforting words.

      I always feared death. And my mother talks about it often and is preparing for hers and has been for a long time. Now I see why and see it all differently. It is as much a part of living really. I envision my dad telling me comforting things and laughing at me for getting so upset. I’m also filled with a lot of regret wishing I would have spent more time with him. People tell me there’s no place for that and to remember the good things. I will try to heed your advice. I think it’s what my dad would want too. Thank you, Sandee.

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  9. You have my deepest sympathies, Amy. I am so sorry that your dad went suddenly. When my dad bought his rainbow last summer, at least I got the luxury of being with him at the end, I had the opportunity to say goodbye and participate in his hospice care. So speaking from experience, I know well the pain of losing a beloved parent, and I’ve been through this twice. Even though your dad went suddenly, I hope that he had a full life. If there is anything positive in grief, it’s knowing how special your loved one was. It sounds to me that your dad was very dear to you as mine was to me. My dad’s service had a lot of humor, too. The deacon who conducted it was also a stand-up comic. My dad was also a wonderful joke-teller. Something very moving to me that the deacon said was that he said that there’s an Irish saying that a person never fully dies until all those that knew him also exit this earth. I do feel that my dad lives on in my siblings, my niece and me. I hope that the same is true of your dad, your family and you. As for grief, I function perfectly well, but it still shadows me. I accept that it’s part of the healing process. I’m not fighting it. When I feel sad about him, I let myself feel sad. But overall, I have an onslaught of wonderful memories. I sense that you do, too.

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    1. Thank you so much for this, Virginia. I would have liked to have had the time to say goodbye, but that probably wasn’t my dad’s style. I’m told he went without pain, at least this is what I’d like to believe. My mom tells she would like to go the way he did. I have to believe her. I can only hang on to those ideas and that he is at peace now, living through us and perhaps lingering, watching us. Some of his friends have told me that he has been there with them. I haven’t really felt that yet, maybe I just haven’t let myself. It was great that it was such a humorous service and that there were so many laughs, even things that I forgot all about. Like my dad built me a balance beam in the garage. My brother reminded me. I forgot all about that! He said he built it on the ground though because he was so much into safety. I will miss my dad. I will try to focus on the good times and not the loss. Like you, it’s okay to feel sad if that’s how I feel and I like the Irish saying that a person waits for his loved ones. Who knows. Thanks for talking me through this. One thing the pastor said was that grieving is the price for loving someone so deeply. It’s true.

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      1. I agree with your pastor’s take on grieving. I am also glad that my dad bought his rainbow before any of his kids. He nursed my mom through a catastrophic illness for 9 years and lived another 15 without her. He paid a lot of dues. As trite as this will sound, your dad went the way he was meant to go. I hope that he had little to no pain and if there is an afterlife all of his loved ones will rejoin him when it’s their time. Like you, I don’t feel my dad, either but he has appeared in my dreams. Possibly your dad has done that, too with you. I have found those dreams comforting. I also keep his time piece paperweights on my writing table. He was a watch salesman who had those on his desk from my youth until he died. Those mementoes of him were important to me. My siblings were both totally cool and let me keep them. It’s also important that you and your family support each other. It sounds to me that you guys have that down. Take care.

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      2. I hope there was no pain. I just have to believe it at this point. I haven’t had any dreams at all yet. I know other people have had dreams about him and have told me about them. I usually don’t remember any of my dreams lately. Maybe if I focus on them, it will happen in time. I’m glad you have the paperweights as reminders. I took a few items that I now have in my house and lots of books I don’t even have a place for. My dad had tons of books! I’m trying to concentrate on the good memories and not his absence. In the meantime, my sisters and I have been keeping in touch. Thanks for your caring words, Virginia. Hugs!

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  10. Amy,
    Since you closed comments the last time, I didn’t think it appropriate to email, so I didn’t. But the loss of your father was in my thoughts the time you were away. And to agree with Frank, he must be really proud of you.

    Death reminds us that we are mortal. It forces us to change. And while we all deal with loss differently, the pain of grief is inevitable—a true sign of our love. And as the love will always there to some degree, so will the pain. And until our own passing, to which others will grieve… okay, that got really depressing, sorry. :/

    I remember, not long ago, the red/blue mustache photo. Seeing it again, I can only discern hints of memories. Interpretations may differ, but it was all real. During your recitation, you paused. But life goes on, and I can’t believe that he’d want us to mope around.

    Take all the time you need to process, but come back. We miss you.

    -Adam

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    1. Adam,
      Thank you for your kind words and for keeping me in your thoughts while I was away. I hope my dad is proud. I’d like to think he is. I feel I let him down, living so close to him. I ask what I may have done differently, if it all could have been prevented. This will haunt for awhile and is part of grieving, like you say. I do sometimes think how I can change my life to make if more meaningful. We can busy our life away or we can redirect our time. It’s really our choice. So, maybe it will result in some positive changes as anyone can improve and I’m no exception. So, don’t worry about being depressing. I don’t find it that way so much. These are things that part of my everyday thinking. With love there is pain. That’s the price we pay.

      That red/blue mustache photo made it in the slideshow. Yes! I can’t believe you remembered it. I like to think my dad heard that poem of mine and it made him smile, although it made me cry.

      Awww, thanks. I missed everyone here and you, too.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I’m very sorry to hear about your dad.
    I’m glad at the way your dad’s memorial service went. It sounds like a lot of people came to celebrate his life and share stories, the way a memorial should be.

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    1. Thanks, Ali. My dad’s memorial service couldn’t have gone any better, except for my crying. It was really nice to see everyone there. It would have made my dad happy.

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  12. My thoughts and prayers have been with you and yours, Amy. Your Dad is a living legacy through you and all those wonderful people that came to your memorial service. What a wonderful sharing of a life. I hope you are finding the warmth and comfort you need.

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    1. Thank you, Audra. People have been amazing and really supportive. It’s nice to have so many caring people an arm’s reach away or a phone call in the middle of the night. My dad would have loved this service. Thanks for thinking of me, Audra. It means a lot and it is very comforting.

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  13. All good wishes to you. I’m glad you have family close by to help you through this difficult time. Be thankful for his long life and for the fact that you made it this far without death having touched your life in a significant way. That’s a blessing.

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    1. Thank you, Mark. My family was here for everything but now have all left. We are keeping in touch. My mom has been great, too. I still have her and now know I cannot take it for granted. He did live a long life. Heart disease runs in his family so he did what he could. I know he had lots of friends he spent time with, too, and was happy. So, that makes me feel good.

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  14. Amy, first let me say, you have my sympathy. You also have my gratitude. Sharing your experience of your fathers death was kind of you. It may help someone deal with loss, and it’s a generous thing you’ve done here. For instance, this post reminded me of the importance of having celebrations of life with the ones we love while they are living. Peace to you.

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    1. Thanks, Honie. Well, I get a lot of strength and comfort from sharing it, so if it helps others that makes me smile. I feel that way too now. I don’t take anything for granted and we must cherish the time we have together. That’s what counts. Thanks for your comments.

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  15. Dearest Amy… I did not know about your dad until just now. I have not been online much so I totally missed that post. I’m so sorry. But he sounds like a man that was well loved and loved well. 🙂
    I’m sure the emotional roller coaster will continue for a bit. When I lost my stepdad, I didn’t think the pain would ever stop. But it subsides and you have a lot of love and support to fill up the valleys.
    Love, peace and blessings my dear! 🙂

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    1. Thanks, Courtney. I feel like my dad is watching me right now and others to make sure we are ok. I know I need to remember the good times, but sometimes it really feels like I’m in a different reality now. I’m not sure if I will ever get used to it, but I will have to adjust. Thanks for sharing and for the love. 🙂

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  16. As I’ve often shared, I have had far too many experiences with death. It’s something I’m invited to speak about often, and played a huge part in my work with Hospice. Yet, it never really gets easier. I’m so sorry for this loss in your life, Amy. It is huge to lose a parent, and layered in so many ways. I wish you peace and comforting memories as you work through your grief. You’ve been in my thoughts. xox

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    1. That’s a good way to put it, Dawn. It’s layered, very much so. There’s so much I’m feeling all at once and so much I’ve had to take care of in the past two weeks. I’m pretty emotionally exhausted and yet I’m also grateful that my energy has been diverted. Probably not for long. Today I’m just sad as I’m almost done taking care of all his things in his apartment. Thank you so much for the comforting words and for keeping me in your thoughts. xoxo

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  17. So good to hear from you, Amy. You’ve been missed.
    I remember when my father passed away how untethered I felt. Even though he was survived by my mother, I felt like a half-orphan, like most of my roots had been pulled up. But almost 20 years later I realize that he truly is with me in so much that I do. That in fact I feel better rooted for having loved him so well (and having been loved so well, too.)
    Hoping for you that the untethered feelings pass, that you can revel in joy-filled memories and in the end, that you feel how well he’s rooted you to your family, to the earth and to yourself. Peace.

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    1. Thank you, Jen. Wow, what glorious comments you’ve given me. They are a gift to me right now. I think it will take a while to feel ok, but I have so many good people around me. Thoughts like yours give me comfort. I will just have to take it day by day. I know he would want only the best for me, so I must keep remembering that. Thank you, Jen. xo

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    1. Thank you, Brigitte. I know you know. Thanks for the comforting thoughts. I do need to remember to take care of myself. Thanks for the reminder. 🙂 Much love to you.

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  18. I’m very sorry for your loss, Amy. I’m sure it has been very tough, but at least you seem to be able to look back and celebrate his life. Wishing you the best. You’ll be in my thoughts.

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  19. My dad passed away on March 22nd – reading your post was like peeking into my own head. thanks for sharing what I KNOW is a very hard and complex thing. My thoughts are with you and your father

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    1. Oh, I’m so sorry. I know you know what I’m going through. Feel free to talk to me anytime about it. Much love to you and your family during this difficult time. It is a very layered experience, as one of my blogging friends put it. And no two days are the same. Take the time you need to adjust to this new reality. Best – Amy

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