Father’s Day With a Dead Dad

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There are several opinions in this post that you might not expect. I’m not going to say that I’m so sad my dad is dead and I really wish he was still here.

My father died. You don’t have to console me. It’s ok.

Having a dead dad doesn’t have to be sad, a shame, or tragic. It can be all of those, and that’s ok. You can process grief your whole life, and that’s ok. But not being sad and accepting that your parent is dead is also ok.

My father died when I was 18. I was totally devastated with grief. Today, I don’t think it’s sad anymore.

In this post, you might not expect me to talk about entitlement. There are subtle entitlements that people express about parents. I don’t feel entitled to a living father. I appreciate that I had one for 18 years.

You aren’t entitled to a father.

You aren’t entitled to a good father.

You aren’t entitled to a father who lives a long life.

You aren’t entitled to a kind and loving father who cares and teaches you and offers you sage advice from his long and successful career. You aren’t entitled to a father who supports you and is a role model and a pillar of the community. A nice guy. A smart guy. A witty, funny guy who always says oh my!- just the right thing.

Those dads are in the movies.

You aren’t entitled to movie parents. If you had them, I am happy for you.

If you think you have a crappy dad this Father’s Day, that’s ok too. You can be mad and wish things were different and rage against the injustice of your real, messy family, or you can accept that you have a living father, and you can let him be exactly who he is.

As Byron Katie says, “When you argue with reality, you lose, but only 100% of the time.”

FullSizeRender 7In this post, you also might not expect me to tell you that I don’t believe my father is gone. People say they “lost” their dad or they “lost” a loved one.

My dad did not get lost. I never lost him.

Some people pray to God or a god. I pray to my father. And my grandmother. And my former student who jumped off a cliff and never resurfaced. They are all there when I get quiet and calm. They are not lost.

People who have never experienced having a loved one die have a hard time understanding my personal experiences and beliefs: It’s hard to explain that my father is always there for me, and yet it is true.

My father runs with me in races. He is there at every major event when I’m happy – graduation, teaching award, laughing with friends. He is there when I cry out and sob for help. He constantly supports me and guides me and tells me I’m going to be ok. He assures me that he is watching over the important people in my life like my mom in Florida and my family and friends who are struggling.

My favorite thing is that my dad is CONSTANTLY laughing at anything I worry about, because nothing on this earthly plane is really that serious.

IMG_7428My father wants me, always, to have more fun. To lighten up. To love people and be kind. To let go of worry. To know everything is going to be ok. To live a happy and beautiful life and appreciate every second.

That’s what my dead dad wants for me and for everyone.

Gorgeous, child of a reader: You have a father. It’s ok if he’s absent. It’s ok if he’s imperfect. It’s ok if he’s dead. It’s ok to be upset about any of those things. Take a minute to be mindful: Is what you’re upset about even true? Is it a painful story?

My story is that my dad is dead and it’s ok that he’s dead. Although I was never entitled to a great father, somehow I got the best father imaginable AND I got to spend 18 loving years being Daddy’s girl.

My story is that I know, with all of my heart, I have not lost him. He is always there.

Loving you out there. Today, my dead dad wanted to remind me, and you: Have more fun with your life. Love yourself and everyone else. Appreciate all good things. And, for heaven’s sake, please don’t take Father’s Day, or any day, that seriously.

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