My (Stephen) dad died four years ago on December 5th. He had a heart attack while driving to work, wrecked his car, and never recovered. This year as I remember my dad I am overwhelmed with a deep emptiness.
The Source of Emptiness
I was not close with my dad. He struggled with mental illness and it made being his son hard. It made being a dad hard for him. My dad did the best he could. Yet, even though I can see he did his best, there is still a gap in my heart. I wish it was different.
Kids need their parents for all kinds of reasons. One of the biggest is so that they know they are going to be “OK.” You see parents have this unique ability to help their kids feel secure. They can help their kids know that no matter what happens they are not alone, that mom or dad are there.
I feel alone. My emptiness reminds me of my loneliness. Even though Erin and I have a wonderful relationship and I love my kids and siblings and friends. I still feel alone. There is a sense of security that only a parent can provide. I missed that.
Your Parents Matter to Your Parenting
Parenting can make this loneliness intensify. I love being a dad. I would love to have my own dad come and put his arm around me and tell me I’m doing it right. I would love to give him a call and ask him questions. These are opportunities I did not get with my dad. Remembering him these last few days has caused me to remember my loneliness.
Pretty depressing stuff, huh! Yet, this is not a sob story. This is a reality for so many parents. Some have parents too unhealthy to be parents like my dad. Others have wonderful parents that have died. Still some have great parents suffering from an illness that has diminished them. Whatever the circumstance parenting can be lonely, because we don’t have our parents.
Again, this is not a sob story. This is a true story for so many. A story that is often not spoken. A story that is sometimes not realized. A story that is worth acknowledging. One of the remedies for grief is to not ignore it. Ignoring grief just makes us sick with silence. It eats you up from the inside. I’m lonely because I didn’t feel like I had a dad. Saying this does not take away my loneliness or fix what was lost. Saying it keeps it from sitting inside of me and making me sick with silence.
Speak and Be Well
Are there any truths that you need to speak about the grief you feel about your parents? Maybe you need to tell your story to your partner. It could be time to seek some counseling. Or you could take our Create Your Couple Story Course and go deeper into your story and your partner’s story. Whatever you do, speak and be well.