Family Heartbreak Life

How To Cope With Your Father’s Death

Written by Nela Baricevic

In loving memory of my dad.

I survived it so I must know the answer, right? No. Day by day, I’m surviving it. I’m learning how to appreciate the life that was given to me. And I’m learning how to be grateful for the people I still have around. I’m learning how to look at life from the brighter side. And I remember. I remember how it feels standing there in the cold and not feeling it. Not feeling anything but anger. But sadness. But chaos.

It was more than 20 years ago, but I swear it feels like it was yesterday. I was four years old and it was his funeral. The funeral took place two years from his death. Yes, it was a war. And yes, he was a soldier.

I swear he was a soldier of fortune, but the fortune for which he was fighting ended up dead, so he died too. This is the only logical explanation for me because when it’s up to life and death, all logic fades to waste.

I can’t tell you how to get over it. I won’t tell you it will be okay because it won’t. Because there’s nothing okay when it comes to death. I won’t tell you the pain will pass. Because it won’t. Pain will only change its shape, but it will still hurt. But there is one thing I can tell you—you’ll learn a lot about life. About yourself too.

I swear I’d be a completely different person today if my father hadn’t died. But I can’t say I hate the person I am today. It’s like I can see a different version of me when I look myself in the mirror and what I see is the reflection of the person I could be if my life went differently. Then, when I take a second look, I can clearly see today’s version of me and I’m glad for who I am today.

Once I read that many people who have lost their father describe it as a loss like no other. And that’s exactly what it is. Losing a dad is even more painful as we live in a world that prefers to deny and avoid death or the reality of death. No one likes to think or talk about it. So besides the pain you feel, you must accept the fact you can’t blame people for saying all the wrong things. The main one is, “I know how you feel.” And then the next one, “It will pass. You’ll see, it will be okay.”

Well, the truth is—you don’t. You don’t know what it’s like to lose a father when you’re a baby or what it’s like to stand on your father’s grave when you’re four, then six, then ten… then twenty. No matter the years, the pain remains.

You don’t know what it’s like to feel vulnerable and horrified because of your loss.

You don’t know what it’s like to fight when there’s no one there to hold your back.

You don’t know what it’s like to witness your mother’s sadness every single day.

You don’t know what it’s like to have no reason to say the word “dad.”

You don’t, and you don’t really need to know what it is like.

But, no, you don’t know how I feel.

But when it’s all black and blue, I keep in mind these beautiful words said by Terry Pratchett:

“Do you not know that a man is not dead while his name is still spoken?”

And then I say his name and look in the sky. That’s when I grab a moment in which I know that at the end I will be okay. It will be alright.

About the author

Nela Baricevic