I read the "Losing Dad" article yesterday while I was giving blood, and it was hard for me to make it through without crying. I lost my father five years ago, and the pain of his death is still quite vivid. He was 42 years old, died of a heart attack doing yard work. I was away at college at the time, and when the hospital called, I knew right away more or less what had happened.
The next two years after he died are a blur. I finished school, went on to graduate school, managed to fail myself out of that, and moved back in with my Mom as if I were a ghost. I hardly spoke to her, I ignored the phone calls from my friends. I eventually got out of that, but depression and anxiety still cling to me.
For me, it hasn't been a matter of not living up to his legacy. I said I might visit him over my Spring Break that year, and I didn't get around to it. I didn't even say I would, for sure, but I still felt like I'd broken my last word to him. I'd already lost him, to some extent, before he died. He had separated from my mother and gotten re-married, and it seemed like he'd lost that sense of duty, of honor, of loyalty that used to define him for me. Then he died, and there was no chance for redemption, no chance for me to understand what had changed him, why he was doing these things.
I'm terrified, of ending up like he was. It's been a self-fulfilling prophecy- my relationships (friendly and romantic) are a mess, I find it so hard to focus on work, I won't let myself enjoy my free time. I'm obsessed with punishing myself, in part for his sins- running off on my mother, how he nearly ruined his sister's wedding by bringing his new wife there.
Another bit of note.. my Dad started doing these things after my Grandfather, his Dad, died. In part I think he was acting out of confusion, now that the man he had modeled himself on was gone, he didn't know what to do. And I fell for the exact same trap.
I'm not sure how coherent any of that was, but thanks to anyone who does read it. And you all who have lost your fathers have my sincere condolences, and wishes to continue on your manly path as best you can.