This June was the first Father’s Day since my Dad passed away in February of this year. It came and went quietly as I reflected on my Dad’s passing. Many days I notice something that I miss about my Dad, how I wish I could ask him about the history of some geopolitical situation or how he always buffed the reflectors on my car when I stopped by my parent’s house. I miss our fun discussions and how he was always a source of reliable knowledge that I could trust.
I have never doubted the existence of life beyond our physical body. It feels like I was born knowing this and always had a connection to the realm of multiple Universes. I spent much time in these many Universes in my childhood, exploring different worlds in my mind. So fears about nothingness, my father disappearing after his body died, were not things that concerned me, and I had a deep sense of peace that he was very happy and very free. This hasn’t stopped me, though, from missing his presence and having many reminders through out my days of him being gone, from no one to figure out how the DVD player works, or him not being there to talk about an interesting article on psychology I just read.
My Central Issue
My “central unresolved issue” around my relationship with my father had to do with the feeling that I wasn’t “good enough.” “Good enough” for what? Good enough to shine my light, to be a success, to blossom into whom I truly was. Once, during a very painful teen-aged year in my relationship with my father he told me, “I love you because I have to as your father, but I just don’t like you.” I know what my father said could have been worse. He at least had the realization that he had a duty to take care of me and love me, but that feeling of not being liked by my own Dad was obviously devastating! It went to the very core of my being. Not liked, why? What was wrong with me? This was the beginning of me finding my own voice and speaking up about things that I believed in or didn’t agree with my parents about. It was also the beginning of me noticing perceived injustices in the world and in my family and speaking out about that.
If I was to go back and give my Dad advice as to how he could have handled things differently, I would tell him to focus on the process not the content. To tell his his daughter that he liked how she formulated her arguments and how she was analyzing information. To tell her that he appreciated how she always stood up for the underdog. Even if he didn’t agree with what I was saying, what was important at that time was to see that I was finding my voice and to nurture that voice to continue to grow. Instead I became extremely quiet. For those that knew me as a child, “quiet” was the word that was probably most often used to describe me.
It is easier to cope with the loss of your father when most issues between the two of you have been resolved. I feel lucky that I was able to resolve these issues while my dad was still alive. Through the deep Inner Work that I have done, I have healed my relationship with my Dad. I appreciate the difficulty he had as a child growing up in a war zone, seeing people lined up and shot on the street, and going without food. I also understand the challenging relationship he had with his own father. In the progress that he made in how he treated us versus how he was treated, I see the healing of the generational trauma.
When Your Parent Has Already Passed
Even when someone passes away it is not too late to resolve things from the past. On a recent family trip to Mexico after my Dad had died, I found that I suddenly received the grace of clarity and understanding about a situation that had bothered me about my father and his relationship to other family members. I had not been thinking about this at all. It was a sudden insight that happened as I was consciously being mindful and enjoying being in the moment on the trip.
A certain family dynamic that had occurred helped me realize that I was much more like my dad than I had thought! I suddenly saw things from his perspective and understood what he had gone through. I also realized that he was much more involved with care for the family than I had thought at one point. I realized this because I saw myself as being the same way. I am not constantly hands-on as a mother, but I am always ready to jump in when needed and I make sure everyone is being taken care of and having their needs met. I had come to see how my father oversaw the well-being of the family in his way, and that he had often been making sure things were running smoothly, behind the scenes, even though he wasn’t necessarily doing every hands-on task.
I also realized the mistakes that my dad had made and I saw the potential for making them myself. In that moment of insight, I understood exactly where he had been coming from, but I also realized how I didn’t want to repeat the same mistakes.
I had a more recent insight as well. When I was thirteen I was extremely angry at my father and I went nearly a year with hardly talking to him at all. I felt very hurt and misunderstood by him. The recent realization that came to me was that he felt misunderstood as well! I had this feeling and vision of how my Dad kept trying to talk to me as he drove me to my ski team practice twice a week. It was a painful silent ride. I never told him what I was upset about. To me it seemed so obvious at the time that I assumed he knew. I realize now that he probably didn’t and that he felt like he was being mistreated as well. We were two hurt sad little kids on those long drives.
Since these insights I have had an even greater sense of peace about my father. I have been able to see him in a new light. A light of deeper compassion and understanding for the little boy that was stuck and only wanted to be loved, appreciated and acknowledged.
If you have experienced a loss or are suffering from grief, or want to resolve issues with your own parents, or children please don’t hesitate to reach out to me @ 303-242-7824 or firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m here to help:)