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My dad was my buddy and when he got cancer and was dying all hell broke loose. Things were happening fast and mom was a real wrench in the works for his care - undoing caregivers etc...longer story here but it was awful. I was running around gathering papers gathering supplies trying to stay on top of help mom was undoing, you get the idea. The whole time my dad was sick he ignored me but would suddenly turn 'on' for his friends or my cousin. Cousin saw what was going on and went to bat for me, saying, " Hey why don't you spend a little time with your daughter, she's running around doing so much for you? " No go. As Dad got sicker he continued to shun me but would talk to anyone else. I was doing whatever task he needed, and then later helping him pee, getting him meds, putting on baseball games, held his hand and sang when things got really bad. Finally I said, " Dad, I just want one thing, tell me you love me. " He answered with a nursery rhyme instead. One day my (future ex ) also said, " Hey your daughter is here, why don't you say hello." Dad moaned refusal and my ( future ex ) said, " No? You don't want to see your daughter? What could be more important? " My dad said, and these were his last words to me, were, " Success."

This is what broke me. My dad was very successful. I'm mid 40's unmarried no children no great career ( I do art! Then day job ) Dad also rightfully wanted to die at home and said so but ended up in the VA ....because that's what mom wanted and the social worker took her side! I tried to fight for Dad but didn't succeed. Him going to the hospital was absolute hell. I feel like I failed him in my life and in his death and maybe I should have fought harder to keep him at home. It was such a bad situation.

After my Dad's last words to me I lost it - lay under some trees sobbing for a couple of hours. I came back the next day and said, "Dad, I may not be technically successful, with the career and family and all, but I have friends who love me, my art, I'm good at my little job, and I am here for you, now. That, to me, is success. As a human being. " I kissed his forehead and said "Goodbye Dad." Then I left. Two days later he passed, I wasn't there unfortunately.

Of course with Dad dying I figure he could go however he wants, it's about him not me! I've had counseling but the way my Dad passed has shredded my heart. I regret so much how he left this world and my last words to him. I regret not being there the day he died. He was the only member of my family who was literally sane and we were buddies for life. The counselor claims meds and/or cancer could have tweaked his mind but to be the target of his ire, see him light up for my cousin, and to be shunned so utterly makes it hard to wonder how I failed him. On a side note he is buried 3000 miles away and I still haven't seen his completed grave site.

Excuse the long sob story but I've felt broken ever since this happened. I feel alone in this experience - his passing was terrible in every sense. Has anyone else experienced this?! I've put off asking because it's such a vulnerable question, but I'm just not getting over this.

Bless you all!

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Madisonc, you gave some very meaningful thoughts about the value of your life. That is so important to your well being and your life. I realize you might have wanted a different ending between you and your father but that did not happen. But all the wonderful memories you have of being with him will always exist.

I had to fly across the country when my father began to seriously decline. By the time I got there he was mostly in an unconscious state yet he could shake his head yes or no. We would tell him things and it was clear he understood some of those things.

Sadly he died of MRSA after complications from open heart surgery. I was never able to technically say goodbye to him verbally. Later on I asked my much younger half sister if she had talked to him much before he knew he was going to have this surgery. She told me he didn't want to discuss anything much. In this case that was his way and choice. She wished he had but that was not the case.

When all the medications keeping him alive were removed he briefly came to and the family around him got close to him and told him how much we loved him. That was the goodbye we had. Others may have ones that may be more satisfying but the moment of passing is often beyond our control.

You are understandably still in a state of grief. You need to experience that but you don't need to make your life sadder by wishing his passing could have been in a way you would have preferred. I hope you remember the memories that bring you joy rather than the last ones which weren't what you had hoped for.
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You guys have the best answers I've heard anywhere! Thank you so much..

I have to add I am not angry with my father nor feel there is a need to forgive him for anything. His ending was about him not me. What I struggle with is forgiving myself and wondering if I did anything wrong....which logically I know I didn't but the heart is not logical.

You guys really are the best....huge hugs
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JuliaRose Oct 2019
I also wonder if I am doing things wrong. It’s so difficult not to get the positive feedback that I have received my whole life.

I had had a thought that maybe your Dad wasn’t meaning he was disappointed in you, but in himself. Coming to the end of life brings lots of reflection and often results in disappointment in oneself. Especially if you were close before his illness, you might have inadvertently acted as a reminder that he wasn’t as successful as he wished he had been. That would explain why he avoided you and turned to your cousin instead, with whom he didn’t have a close connection before. Just a possibility.

I think you did the right thing by telling him goodbye and giving him space.
You are going to have to decide, make a conscious decision that is, to forgive your father.

Surely you can appreciate that he was very ill, literally on his death bed, out of his normal mind when he behaved this way that hurt you so much.
In time your better memories will advance and these last ones recede IF YOU will allow it.
Your father wouldn’t want to be remembered this way. Put those thoughts out of your mind and forgive him. If when you see your cousin and the subject comes up, firmly state that you have forgiven your father. He was a good father for all your life and you choose to dwell on that. Find a favorite photo of you two together and look at it often. Or write about favorite memories. When the negative thoughts come back, simple let them go and tell your dad that you love him and you forgive him. Dont allow yourself to dwell on the negative. Doesn’t he deserve your forgiveness?
Thsnk you for your question. We all have people in our lives we need to forgive. You reminded me of that. Try swapping the word success with the word peace. Try that word on. See how it resonates. Let peace be your quest. Success may have been your dad’s word. You choose your own word. Hugs
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rovana Oct 2019
My dad was 91 years old, and had been going downhill for a while while living in the Assisted Living community with my mother. He was all of a sudden leaning to the left side, and we thought he'd had a stroke, so I took him to the hospital. Turned out his brain tumor had grown, and he was given only a few months to live. I was the one who had to tell him there was nothing that could be done for him, medically, and that we'd be calling in hospice at that point. I didn't tell him how long the doctor's had given him, of course, just that there was no treatment options available for him at 91 years old. He told me, right then and there, that he appreciated all I'd done for him; that I'd gone above & beyond the call of duty for him and mom, and he expressed gratitude. I was surprised and happy that he'd said anything, truthfully.

A few days later, he came down with a UTI and a high fever, and had taken to his bed. I laid down next to him to have a talk. We'd never been particularly 'close', but I was his only child, and I loved him dearly. I knew he loved me too, although he was a man of very, very few words. Always had been. I laid my head on his shoulder; I told him that day how much I loved him, how I admired the life he'd lived; the success he'd made of his life. He told me he wasn't a success; that he was a failure in many ways. I disagreed, telling him that the measure of success for a human is the kindness and love they show others, not where they get to on the corporate 'ladder of success'. (Him putting up with my mother's bologna for 68 years ALONE was deserving of a medal!!) He listened to what I had to say, but did not reply.

From that moment on, he NEVER said ANOTHER word to me. Not one peep. He lived another 2 weeks in 100% silence, for me., while speaking to others. I've always felt weird about it, too. We DID have some last words between us, at least, but I've never really been happy about the 'silent treatment' for those last 2 weeks of his life.

I choose to believe that he didn't know HOW to say goodbye to me. That he remained silent because he didn't want to cry or to break down in any way. That he wanted to remain 'strong', right up until the end, and leave me with THAT memory of My Dad instead of something different, something weaker, something 'less than' what once was.

Perhaps you can take that same approach with your dad, and consider that he wasn't able to express his true emotions to you, rather than he didn't want to, or felt dissatisfied with you in some way. Don't make this about you, but about him, and what he was unable to accomplish in the end, with words or actions.

Wishing you all the best.
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I am very sorry you had to go through this. Whatever did get "into" your Dad, you clearly do know, having had his lifelong support, that he was not truly in his right mind. So I would now lay this to the side. You did nothing wrong. Whatever got into him he didn't want you there, and therefore I think it spared both him and you. You will have to find peace in your heart. Time will heal this pain. And when you look at it rationally and realistically you DO know that this was not your father. You remember your father. He was gone before he went.
It is time now to realize that you know who you are. You do not need your father's approval to live your life. He gave you what he was able when he was able and now he is gone and it is time for you to live your best life using your best self to do it.
This is terribly sad. Horribly sad. But it is one sadness in a life that will likely have more than a few.
This is something that you will never have "the answer for". When you are able to let it go, stop letting it destroy you for utterly no reason, you will have an epiphany. I remember still, and I was in my 40s when I had a situation that there was no answer for, that I could not defend myself in, that I could NOT believe a trusted friend did to me. It wrecked havoc in my life, making me bitter and ugly until I learned the great lesson of letting go of something I could never find the answer to. It was an epiphany. I wish that for you. I believe it will come. The time you open your hands and let it leave you.
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I'm so sorry for your loss and your pain prior to the loss. What a tragic situation. I would blame it on the dying process and give yourself and your dad a break on what was said and done. I am pretty sure that he wasn't quite in his right mind. Forgive him. For yourself and your own peace of mind. When he was healthy, you were close, that's what counts.
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