Photo by Jari Hytönen on Unsplash

A Year After He’s Gone

7 Lessons I learned while dealing with death

I originally intended to write this article a month after my dad passed away. I tried twice, but I wasn’t strong enough to keep myself composed while doing it, but I know, I had to — I wanted to. So here’s another try, I really have to do this for the sake of my loved ones, family, friends, whoever who will read it, and myself.

On one Sunday evening, specifically on August 6, 2017, at around 11:30 PM, after I was already done for the day working on a side project, I received a call from my older brother. I knew something was up because we usually just talk over text messages or chat. And I was right. He told me that our father was having a hard time breathing and was going to be rushed to a hospital.

After the call, I prayed  — asking God for help and if it was that time already, I just wished that he will not suffer. It was a brief and faithful prayer.

While waiting, I set up my HMO account thinking he was going to be covered by it especially if he was going to be confined. But after waiting for more or less 30 minutes, my sister called, and way before I heard her voice, I already knew and felt what had happened.

In an instant, frustrations, sadness, regrets and self hate had rushed in. Everything that I planned to give to and do with my father had vanished.

We already experienced losing our Mom when I was 12, but I know that losing Dad was far worse than that.

His death made me realize a lot of things. Even the smallest things that I had never noticed. Some of it is still as heartbreaking as it was back then.

One of those things that I think I will never forget is how frugal and practical my father had lived. I remember folding and keeping his clothes the same day he had gone to rest… A lot of his clothes were worn regularly for more than 5–7 years. Some of the clothes were our own — clothes that we stopped wearing — and there’s even some where he bought from what the local “Ukay-ukay’, basically a thrift store. Most of his clothes were already worn by either one of us or somebody else. And he even kept some shirts that had holes on them.

I remember crying for every piece of clothing that I folded. I am crying while writing this part.

He was frugal. I know he chose to live like that, not because he can’t afford to buy new ones, but because he wanted to use every single cent that he had for what’s more important.

To be honest, I’m proud of him because of that. Still — it was heartbreaking for me because I know, I didn’t notice his clothes before and that I will not be able to give him anything anymore.

Emotional as this is, I am writing this for everyone to realize something, especially those who haven’t experienced losing someone really close to them. My goal is to share what I’ve learned after losing my father that I wished I had learned years before that night.

Lesson 1: You can never, ever be prepared for it.
I know I’ve been thinking about it way before my dad died. The what if’s and the constant checking of my dad’s breathing while he slept. But that didn’t prepare me for it. Imagine the worst, then multiply it by how much you love a person. Still, you will not be able to know what it feels until they’re already gone. You will feel helpless.

My advice is simply to tell them you love them. I had shown and done a lot of things proving how much I love my dad, still, I regretted not being able to say it to him. And If you hate them, forgive them. I may not know what your history is with them, but once they are gone, there’s no chance to do anything with them anymore. Do it now, for their sake and yours.

Lesson 2: Be kind to everyone, always.
I remember crying when I shared this one with a colleague, as I am crying again while writing this part (Haha).

Yes, we always hear the phrase be kind to everyone. Of course, you don’t have to lose someone to do this. But one of the things that I realized when I lost dad is to try my best to be kinder and be more considerate to every person that I bumped into, interacted with, or talked to.

I realized this when I saw a man, who was around 50–60 years old, inside a jeepney. He was wearing humbled clothes, a bit dirty and not pleasing to the eyes, to be honest. As he was trying to hand his payment out, everyone ignored him and his outstretched arm — maybe because of how he looked. That’s the time I realized, “This could be someone’s father.” Which resulted in me helping him out immediately.

My advice is to always use that perspective and it’ll be a lot easier to be kinder and more considerate to any person, no matter how they look.

Lesson 3: Mourning is normal, but never dwell on it.
I’m not wishing anyone to mourn, but it is part of reality. It’s inevitable that a day will come and that we will experience it, maybe not just once.

It’s okay to mourn. Do not fight it, it will be harder if you do. Crying is normal, and it actually helps us relieve sadness, stress, and all the negative aspects of losing a loved one.

But my advice is to never dwell on it, especially on the parts that you can’t do or change anymore. There will always be regrets, but if you can’t do anything about it or change it anymore, all it will do is either promote self-hate or unsolvable frustration. Focus on the things that you can change and still do, make it up to those are still around.

Lesson 4: Share your feelings
One of the things that I felt after a few weeks of losing dad is that I may be sharing too much and I’m probably becoming a burden to my friends and colleagues, so there are times that I just kept things to myself, or I just pray.

But I was wrong, one of my friends even smacked and scolded me when I shared why I chose to keep things to myself. So my advice is to share how you’re feeling, and believe me, you will feel a lot better, a bit happier and less burdened, even if they’re just listening and can’t give you any advice.

Lesson 5: HUG MORE
Yes, hug more. Kisses are better, but if hugging others already makes you feel uncomfortable, then kisses are definitely out.

I don’t think I have to or can even explain this, but my advice is to try to be more comfortable about hugging or kissing your friends, family, and loved ones. One of my regrets is not being able to hug or kiss my dad more than I should before he passed away. Don’t make the same mistake.

Lesson 6: Spend time with them as much as possible
I think I did spend time with my dad, but when he passed away, I felt that I haven’t done much even when I remember the days that we were talking for hours about almost anything — mostly about our beliefs in God, but also about life in general, ideas, principles, news, potential businesses, among many others.

I mentioned earlier that I was working on a side project when I received the call from my brother. To be honest, I wished that I hadn’t taken on that project, but as I have said, If I can’t change it I should not dwell on it.

So I’ll repeat, spend time with your loved ones as much as possible, watch movies, talk to them about anything, introduce new things to them that they may find interesting, entertaining or amusing, and please be present when you’re around with them as much as possible. Your phone can wait.

Lesson 7: Faith will make everything easier.
This is probably one of the best benefits of having God in life. I always feel how He always had my back, even in the simplest problems or challenges I had, especially whenever I feel helpless, He is always there.

I know that not everyone is a fan of “churches” and “religion”, but to be honest with you, there will be a time that only God will be able to help and heal you, who will help you continue living and smiling even if your heart had shattered to pieces.

If you ask me, this is probably the best thing that I can give and share with anyone, regardless of their state in life: to find God.

If you hadn’t felt what I had described above, even if you already tried or is actively attending religious services, most likely He is just not there. As there are lots of religions out there, but only the Church of God was mentioned in the Bible, which should be the source of truth for Christians.

Ask for His help so you can find His home, as it is already written in 1 Timothy 3:15. That’s where He led me, where I actually found Him. And if you’re curious or want to know more about it, I am more than willing and glad to assist you.

Again, I had proven His words many times as He said “I will not forsake thee.” So yeah, seek God.

I really hoped that this article will help you realize something, for your own good and your loved ones’ as well. I can say that I’m sometimes jealous of those who still have their parents, sometimes even annoyed if they keep complaining about them… anyway.

As a part of this article, I would like to acknowledge and give my thanks first of all to God who had assisted me all my life. My family and loved ones, friends, colleagues and everyone who had made it easier to deal with it on a daily basis. You know who you are, especially those who’ve been there from the very start.

Thank you again for taking the time reading.

P.S. Pressing the ‘Clap’ a few times will help me reach more people.

With Tisha (my Niece)

In memory of

Felipe S. Diaz
May 26, 1963 — August 7, 2017

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