Creating Resilient Cultures   in Healthcare

Letting Go of Dad

My Dad was a talented artist, sports enthusiast, and generally fun-loving guy to be around. I could tell you many funny stories about his lack of direction and getting lost everywhere we went, his soft spot for dogs, reflected by how many visits we made to the Humane Society, and his intense love of ice cream, sometimes indulging us at Dairy Queen twice a day!

I could also tell you I always felt there was something missing from my relationship with my Dad. After my parents divorced when I was 8, I found our infrequent visits more often than not disappointing, leaving me with a deep yearning to be seen, heard, and understood by him.

When his signs of dementia started increasing a couple of years ago, Dad would say to me on the phone, almost with a sense of desperation, “I have to come and see you and your house, can you tell me how to get there?”. I think he must have known he was losing touch with reality and wanted to see me one more time before his mind completely failed him. Unfortunately, he did not see my house and the last time I visited him he had no idea who I was.

Dad passed away last month peacefully and painlessly under Hospice Care. My immediate response was relief. I was relieved to know he was no longer suffering and I was relieved my own suffering could end as well. I could finally let go of the story I had been carrying around for years about all of the unmet expectations I had with my Dad.

Letting go of my story set me free—to remember Dad for who he was and not for all the things I wanted him to be. What story could you let go of today—about someone in your life or about yourself to set you free?

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