Missing Your Loved One after Death

missing your loved one after death

This week has been a particularly challenging one for me, with several brutal reminders that my dad is no longer here. I’ve been surprised by the fact that I actually feel angry about this and even “robbed.”

In an exciting development, my husband and I are in the process of buying a home in Chicago. This is aour side of suicide decision we’ve been swaying back and forth about for the past year, but we finally decided to take the leap when our “dream” home popped up for sale. Over the past few days, I have been filled with a variety of questions that would have been easily answered by him… “Are we being smart with the offer?” “Do you think it’s important we address this particular issue with the inspection report?” Even from his legal standpoint, “what do you think about the seller’s response to our concerns?”  Instead, when these questions arose, I had to think of who else I could share them with. Luckily, my father-in-law and some of my husband’s crafty uncles were able to help. I really appreciated their wisdom and it got us where we need to be. However, I still felt somewhat “deficient.” Like, I didn’t have my own dad to ask and had to burden them. I felt a bit angry toward my dad for leaving this life when he still had so much more parenting and dad “stuff” to do. I thought back to a few summers ago when I moved in with my husband and he came down with a rented UHaul to help me do that without even thinking. Another part of me acknowledged that I was able to figure out a lot of this house stuff by using some of the “tools” he instilled in me growing up – being resourceful, doing research, weighing decisions carefully before making them, etc. And, maybe that was enough, he did spend 30 years as my dad and I learned a lot from him. Of course, life can still go on and we can find our way, but frankly – his absence just stinks.

This week I also took a business trip to New York City and was reminded of how he used to call me upon taking off and landing to make sure I got to my destinations ok. Sometimes these calls annoyed me because I was usually in the security or cab line, but in hindsight, it was just nice to know that he was watching the clock during the day, ultimately CARING about me and my well-being. I know that others still do, but he just had this special dad way of doing so.

Another thing I missed about my dad this week was our “like” minds, especially when there were minor disagreements in the family. My dad and I were talkers. We liked to get on the phone or discuss in person matters that flustered us – even if it was unnecessary and bringing us undue worry. We would talk about all avenues of the issue and weigh different approaches and outcomes and usually seemed to be in the same place, mentally. I liked that he always wanted to talk it out, even if sometimes, he over-exhausted the topic.  This week, I was really bothered by a silly little thing, but no one was there to listen and talk to me about it. I kept wracking my brain trying to decide who to call about it but realized that there was no one who filled those shoes in the specific way I needed them to be filled that day. And, I was bummed about it.

Missing your loved one after death is natural and a feeling that might never go away. Think about all the hats that person wore – a parent, a child, a sibling, a breadwinner, a homemaker, an accountant, a professor, a counselor, you name it. All those roles they played in our lives also went away when they passed. Of course, their lessons and love will remain with us forever, but many of those in-the-moment reminders of their absence trigger the painful realization that they’re gone and someone else will likely have to step in to address that task (even if it’s yourself). I don’t feel this way all the time, but I am just letting myself go through and experience these emotions this week.

Perhaps since he has been so top of mind for me recently, I did have one special “gift” that occurred on the morning of my birthday February 6. This, of course, was another day he would have found a way to make extra special (and only reminded me of his absence). I had a perfect dream about him which started my day off beautifully. He loved Arizona and I had this dream that we were there for some reason. I remember driving through the area and there being hundreds, thousands of rainbows everywhere. Oddly, I thought nothing of them as I was driving, but just recalled how strangely wonderful it was. I arrived at a small church in Paradise Valley and he was there, wearing a grey suit. We met in the narthex of the church and he was smiling and very happy to see me. We spent time laughing and joking and it was just great. Then, as I started driving away, I looked around for him and he was just gone. But, it felt right, like the dream had run its course. I got to see him and have that special moment and he went back to where he was supposed to be and me where I was supposed to be. Given all of the metaphors of the dream, I took it as a sign and a gift that he is where I picture him to be and everything is well. And, I feel good.

Finding ways to continue to carry the presence of our departed can help with missing your loved one after death. But, all of us know as survivors that things will unfortunately just not be the same again without them.


  1. Abbey says

    It’s amazing the irony of your site. There are so many days and weeks where I am going through the very same emotions and experiences and then one of you will write something that provides me the words to the feelings I have… I will often email your blog to my husband and say, “this is exactly what I was telling you last night.”
    My father died by suicide in May and my life was completely turned upside down. We were living in Atlanta at the time and my husband and I made the difficult decision to move back to Minneapolis to be closer to my family and my mom. We bought a house in August – which was another ‘first’ without dad. The last time we bought a house my dad was there to look over every squeaky floorboard and analyze the slope of the yard and cracks in the foundation. I was really mad that he was not there.
    Your part about your travel really hit home. I travel a lot for my job and my dad used to worry so much, “are you sure you need to be traveling alone?” He would always call me before every trip and make me promise to call when I arrived – both at the airport and at the hotel. It was always so comforting to know that he was always thinking about me, that no matter what time of day it was I could call dad just to chat – he would always answer. He made all of my long drives go by so fast. There is no one in the world that can replace that conversation I shared with my dad…
    It’s really hard to talk on the phone now. I find myself getting upset, trying to make the conversations fill a void that my dad left. But there is no conversation that will ever be what I had with my dad. I have learned not to get upset anymore. At first, I used to call my mom during the day, like I used to call dad. However, she would be busy at work or wouldn’t be able to talk at that very second. I was needing that conversation – someone to be on the line and really listen, like Dad did. I learned to change my expectations. I was grieving a loss in so many ways – it felt like no one else understood.
    Dad and I were very ‘like-minded’…we were both in sales and could talk shop for hours and hours. It would drive everyone else crazy. There are so many moments throughout the day when I want to call dad to tell him about something at work, that only he would understand.
    Thanks again for your site. I look forward to reading your new blogs. They have been a tremendous help I navigate through this journey.

    • Becky says

      Abbey – thanks so much for sharing! I have the same thoughts when I have tried to call my mom or others and they just don’t have the same reaction or desire to talk for however long I was used to. I really like the idea of changing expectations. I feel like I’ve been trying so hard to find one or more people who will fill his various roles for me but I’m finding over time that it’s just not going to happen. It’s the unfortunate side of love and loss. Sometimes I think (I know!) he forgot all those great traits he had in those last days and how much he really did matter to me and everyone. Perhaps not realizing what a huge ripple effect this decision would have and for how long. We really appreciate hearing your feedback; it makes us feel good knowing that we are helping others.

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