As I write this, I am on my way to Maine to see my dad who is lying in a hospital fighting for his life. He’s 96-years-old and has lived a good life. He loves the Lord and knows where he is headed should this be the time God takes him home. Despite all of this, losing your parent is never easy.

Even though my relationship with my dad has always been strong, and even though he has been mentally with us, there is no easy way to say goodbye.  I find myself crying at unexpected times. For all my life, he has been my strong dad–the provider of all things stable and my biggest cheerleader in terms of believing in me.

Not everyone has such a positive relationship with their dad an/or their family members. In those cases, grief can be complicated. If you are the caretaker for an older parent, you may feel a sense of relief, but then experience guilt and ambivalence. And the loss of a second parent makes you the surviving oldest generation. Some people call that “adult orphans.” Our parents, who have always been there are gone. We are now the reigning oldest. When my brother and I look at each other after his passing, we will know–we are it!

The important thing to do when you face this type of loss is to let people know and not try to cope alone. Don’t be afraid to talk about how the loss is affecting you. Most important to consider is the spiritual condition of the parent that is holding on to life or passing to the next. If your parent doesn’t know the Lord, ask the Holy Spirit for a moment to bring up a conversation about eternity. In my case, I know my dad is soon to be with Jesus. But when his brother died, he did not have that assurance with his brother and boldly brought up the topic of eternity. I was proud of my dad as this was a courageous move, one he knew could affect his brother’s eternity.

Soon my dad may join my mom and brother in heaven. That moment will be bittersweet. He will be out of the body that is now confining him in a way he does not like. But he will also be out of our lives for now. Our daily talks about sports will end. He won’t be following Michigan football with me as he does ever year. He won’t ask about the kids and have fun conversations with them about their cars, jobs and life. He won’t occasionally tell me he loves me or ask how he is doing financially. There will be a void that no one can fill. And that is why loss is so hard. Parents are irreplaceable.


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