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Coping with Father's Sudden Death

thankyou4flyingthankyou4flying Registered User Posts: 789 Member
edited January 2013 in Parents Forum
Hey everyone,

My dad died suddenly during Thanksgiving break and it has really shaken up my family and me. Because it's been about 6 weeks or so, I have started to get used to life without him, but I am only 19 and you never think you are going to lose a parent when you are 19 and a college sophomore, like I am.

I have been mostly okay because a lot of friends have been spending time with me during the holidays and it has allowed me to take my mind off it, and I know that once the semester starts and I get immersed in classes, research, working, etc. I will be busy. But it still hurts a lot at night when I'm in bed and it's all I think about, or when I'm home with my mom and my sister and my dad's not there when he otherwise would be doing the same things with us. It hurts that my father won't be there for my graduation, for my wedding, and seeing me live out my career, and I'll never see him again.

I was just wondering if you all had any suggestions or tips for me to cope, because I'm only 19 and this is the first major death or hardship I have faced. What did you do in similar circumstances? Any help would be appreciated. :)
Post edited by thankyou4flying on

Replies to: Coping with Father's Sudden Death

  • GeekMom63GeekMom63 Registered User Posts: 1,957 Senior Member
    I'm sorry for your loss. My father died suddenly when I was 28 and pregnant with his first grandchild. It hurts terribly no matter how old you are. It took me several weeks / months to be fully ok, but I still miss him. All I can say is it will get easier over time.

    Suggestions? Think of the happy times. Sing a song / read a book / watch a movie you used to like together. Go easy on yourself, and your mom and your sister. And get immersed in classes, research, working, etc. And if you find yourself unable to cope, check out the school's counseling center.

    Good luck to all of you.
  • HighlandMomHighlandMom Registered User Posts: 1,010 Senior Member
    I'm so sorry for your loss. Not only do you need time to grieve, you need time to get over the shock of his sudden death.

    Do you think you would do better to take a leave from school? Or would you do better to go ahead and plunge back into your studies?

    I wouldn't think too far into the future (graduation, wedding, etc.) but take each day as it comes.

    Do you journal? Would it help you to write down your thoughts?

    Does your campus have a counseling center? Maybe they could help you process your thoughts.

    Again I'm so sorry for your loss. It will take some time to get over the shock and surprise of his death, on top of your grieving.
  • HighlandMomHighlandMom Registered User Posts: 1,010 Senior Member
    ^cross posted with GeekMom
  • HaystackHaystack Registered User Posts: 1,576 Senior Member
    My father died when I was a college soph. Friends, classes, summer job got me through it. Basically, I kept busy and knew my life had to go on. My brother was only 8 at the time, he had a harder time.

    There will be some rough spots but you will get through it. Help out your mom and sister when you can.
  • photomom5photomom5 Registered User Posts: 809 Member
    I am sending you hugs, this loss is just huge. I hope you have a strong support system and always remember your dad would want you to keep living your life. It will take time.
  • qialahqialah Registered User Posts: 1,897 Senior Member
    I think talking to others who have been through what you're going through is very helpful. There are lots of bereavement support groups on line, or you could check with a local hospital for one that might meet in person. You may find that your friends will expect you to "get over" this before you feel ready.

    There are also lots of good resources on the internet about the grieving process which might help you understand why you feel as you do and reassure yourself that it's perfectly normal.
  • lefthandofdoglefthandofdog Registered User Posts: 1,430 Senior Member
    I had the same experience, to the day, 37 years ago, so I can tell you that you will get through this and for now, all you have to do is put one foot in front of the other, as John Steinbeck says in East of Eden, there will be times when you just go through the motions, but over time it gets better. previous poster is right - don't think too far ahead but know that you will carry him in your heart throughout your life and though he may not be there, he is not missing. Enjoy your family and friends and don't hesitate to talk to a professional.

    I am sorry for your loss, but believe, based on your eloquent writing, that you will absorb and come through this.
  • greenbuttongreenbutton Registered User Posts: 2,287 Senior Member
    I'm so sorry for your loss. You are asking good questions, and the advice here is good. I would only add that you may want to find a grief group through your counselor's office. Your grief is very fresh and while everyone will be supportive, I think there is likely to be times when you want to talk to someone who truly understands your loss.
  • mom2collegekidsmom2collegekids Registered User Posts: 82,545 Senior Member
    i am so sorry to hear about the loss of your beloved father.

    You're still very deep in the grieving process. Give yourself time to heal. It sounds like you're living at home, so hopefully you all can be there for each other.

    {{{ hugs }}}
  • calimamicalimami Registered User Posts: 877 Member
    lost my father almost three years ago, and at some point in 2012 i started to feel like i was able to fully accept it. yes, it takes time. don't force yourself to 'get over it'--just yield to the emotions. meditation and yoga helped me tremendously. i've practiced yoga since i was a teen, but started meditation a few months after his passing. eat well, and get enough rest--it's VERY important to take care of yourself physically. if you drive, carry tissues in your car in case you have to pull over and cry (i learned that the hard way). wishing you strength.
  • momsquadmomsquad Registered User Posts: 996 Member
    Hey Thankyou4flying,

    My dad died suddenly when I was 23 and in grad school, the night before Thanksgiving. My parents were living in Europe at the time, so I hadn't seen them for several months. I remember I was baking a pecan pie to bring to a friend's house the next day, and after my mom called with the news I pulled it out of the oven and threw it in the trash.

    Because college kids aren't used to thinking of mortality, you may find that your friends shy from talking about your grief and may appear at times as though they've forgotten what you're going through. You may feel like you need to appear strong so that people won't worry about you. I learned a lot about how to treat others dealing with grief during that time, and it's made me a better person today. I can still remember each person who took the time to write me or pull me aside and ask how I was doing. And the funny thing is that these weren't necessary people who were my friends, they were others who had also experienced a loss and knew how much it helps to have someone acknowledge your grief. Some days you may just need to be alone and allow yourself to cry or think about your dad and feel sad. For me, the sadness lasted about 6 months and I was able to focus on my research and continue with school. To this day I still have dreams that my dad is alive, doing things and saying things that are comforting.

    It will get better.
  • BUandBC82BUandBC82 Registered User Posts: 2,061 Senior Member
    thankyou4flying, I'm very sorry for you loss. I also lost my dad when I was a 19 year old sophomore in college. It was very hard. I considered transferring, but my mom convinced me to stay where I was. My dad died in the month of October and I tried to get home every 2-3 weekends during the rest of the school year to be with my mom. School was only 2 hours away from home, so it was possible. It changed my school year, but it was what I needed and I know it helped my mom. It was hard to go home, even though I wanted to be there. At school my life eventually fell back into its normal routine, but everytime I went home I had to once again face the fact that my dad wasn't there anymore. For a while I felt like I restarted my grieving process everytime I went home. The pain lessened over time. Allow yourself time to grieve and heal. You will always miss your dad. I still miss mine and it's been over 30 years. I hope you can feel the hug I'm sending you.
  • Apollo6Apollo6 Registered User Posts: 1,534 Senior Member
    Something that helped me after I lost my father at 18 was to make photo albums. I still have them 30 years later. You'll always miss him but the pain won't always be as acute. Avoid making rash decisions (I think that was one of the reasons I married 3 years later).
  • gradygradgradygrad Registered User Posts: 78 Junior Member
    My father died when I was 24. That was almost 22 years ago and yet I still miss (and mourn) that loss every day. Though, time has definitely softened the blow.

    In the months following my dad's death, I found a lot of comfort in reading. The book "On Death and Dying" by Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross was a helpful resource for me as was another book (I can't recall the title) which was a collection of stories about daughters who had lost their dads. Be gentle with yourself and with your family. And if it makes you feel better, talk to your dad--and also talk about him.

    I am very sorry that you have experienced this loss. It is a profound one. Sending you hugs and good vibes.
  • sseamomsseamom Registered User Posts: 4,877 Senior Member
    Hugs, thankyouforflying. My father also died right around Thanksgiving, 20 years ago. All of the above advice is good. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other, as another poster says. I am a writer so I did a lot of writing, but I also picked up doing art again back then, anything to put my feelings out there. My siblings helped, even my ex helped some. My mom and I had lots of long talks remembering Dad. And eventually, the pain is something that's still there, but not as raw.

    My H's mother died just days after he turned 18, so his experience is closer to yours than mine. After 30 years what he still remembers is how much his friends were there for him. If you have good friends, turn to them and they will help you. For H, just doing every day normal things with his friends was the most important thing for him.

    I'll be thinking good thoughts for you.
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