My Dad Is On His Death Bed And I Feel Nothing

July 5, 2013

This morning I got a Facebook message from a lady who knew my parents back when I was a little kid. I don’t really remember her but my mom does. She told me that my father is in hospital with prostate cancer and kidney problems.


I lay in bed trying to figure out how I feel about this. I haven’t spoken to my father for half of my life, that’s 17 years. He stopped being my father when I was 17 because I decided he wasn’t worth the pain anymore.

While a completely brilliant man, he was a troubled artist, bipolar and extremely dominant, controlling, possessive and verbally abusive.

I now know why he was the way he was, but I didn’t when I was growing up so I couldn’t understand why he both loved and loathed me. The way he destroyed my mother made me fiercely angry with him, but because he threatened to kill us in our sleep and waved his gun around all the time, I was also terrified of him.

I used to fantasise about tying him to a chair and gagging him and then telling him all the ways he had hurt me and my mother.

At 34, I’m still trying to heal the wounds he caused, still trying to put my pieces back together.

But I just feel sorry for him now. Knowing what happened to him and the choices he made in his life, I feel sorry that he never had a relationship with any of his three daughters, that he lived a wretchedly troubled life, that he never found out what it was like to be truly loved and to love in return. I don’t really understand forgiveness, but I feel like I’ve forgiven him. I mean, I don’t feel anything about our time together except regret. Regret that I didn’t have a loving and supportive father, regret about all the problems that caused me in my life. Regret that the brilliant and entertaining man my father also was, was only a glimmer on the surface of an ocean of darkness.

And now, he is on his death bed at 71 years old and all I can think is that I hope he passes quickly because I have always felt that passing would be a relief for him.

I also hope that he somehow, somewhere made amends or learned lessons so that in his  next life he doesn’t repeat the traumas he experienced and caused in this life.

I do not believe death is the end of our existences. I believe we are consciousness having a human experience so I wish him well on his journey and hope that if I do meet him again, it will be a more positive experience.

My job is to heal the wounds he caused and pay my karmic debt and move on.

It’s funny, prostate cancer and kidney problems – both psychosomatic effects of guilt, shame and holding onto issues. Our illness is a physical manifestation of our inner world.

Daddy, you really, really hurt me and I don’t know if I will ever heal, you also showed me how to be funny and entertaining and what a shitty man is so I can avoid them in my adult life. I’m sorry that we didn’t have a healthy father-daughter relationship, I can only imagine how different the world would be if we both weren’t so wounded because you and I are so similar, brilliant visionaries with the ability to change the world but marred by deep emotional hurt and self doubt. I hope I can grow and develop the good things in me that are you, and transcend the bad things. I hope you pass quickly and live a better life the next time around.


A portrait and a painting my father did of me.


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  • leila July 5, 2013 at 11:36 am

    His art work is really amazing. I hope you can manage to see him before he passes. Your situation reminds me of an article I just read about Demi Lovato and the passing of her father…

    • The Dame July 5, 2013 at 11:37 am

      He lives in South Africa and I live in the UK, we haven’t spoken in 17 years, there is no need to see him.

  • Mary (@MissDirt) July 5, 2013 at 7:35 pm

    Wow, damn. That’s some powerful stuff. There’s no right or wrong about it. What you feel is yours, but I’m glad you shared it.

  • Amber-Rose July 5, 2013 at 7:52 pm

    This. “My job is to heal the wounds he caused and pay my karmic debt and move on.”

    It’s so brave to be able to take a step back, be honest, and not feel some kind of social obligation to rush down there to see him.

    I hope you’re doing well. 🙂

  • Michele July 6, 2013 at 4:24 am

    This hits very close to home. I have struggled for 2 years over my fathers death… and have yet to learn to forgive or move on… thank you for sharing something so personal… My take on my own fathers death:

  • Phil July 6, 2013 at 5:49 pm

    Thanks for revealing this. I also had some issues with my father from my childhood up until even my adult years. I know it’s not easy to forgive, or to even forget. I can see by those portraits he was a talented man. I just hope the pain he caused you will fade away in time.

  • Cynthia July 21, 2013 at 1:32 am

    My mother just died and I am not grieving. She was in her 90’s. I knew that I wouldn’t feel grief or regrets – we never had a close relationship. She was a closet alcoholic and lived her entire life in denial, pretending that we had the perfect family, and my siblings helped maintain that image. I was the outsider. Over the years, I learned to accept her limitations, always feeling compassion for her pain, regrets, guilt and insecurities. I ended trying to make my friends or male relationships…happy (what I couldn’t fix when I was a child, I tried to fix with others as an adult). Now, we are putting together pictures of my mother’s life, for the funeral services, and she looks really happy in many of the photos. Did I get it all wrong? All this compassion I have felt for her misery… was that just a game she played with me, for sympathy? The eurology reads like an “Ozzie and Harriett” story. I’m going along with the fairy tale portrayal at the funeral service, out of respect. The siblings will continue to maintain the lie, probably for the rest of their lives. All I feel is…tired.