Why harder?

by Ivy A. Harper III
(Albany, La)

The last time we fished.

The last time we fished.

I am a male 43 years old and my dad passes away on Mar. 11 2013 at the age of 82. Before March 3, my Dad had never spent a sick night in the hospital. We suffered the loss of my sister in 2009 and both Mom and Dad have gone down since. Dad's mobility had gotten to the point that he was not far from a wheel chair and he even had difficulty feeding himself. My mother was in complete denial about his condition and actually made taking care of him harder. In 2008, my wife and I had to make the decision to take his truck and that nearly killed both of us. To see the man that has been my crutch all my life, begin to lose his independence was awful. I guess the point I am trying to make is that I know that it was Dad's time and God's plan was fulfilled.

At first the pain was entirely different than what I am feeling now. I work as a construction manager and have great responsibilities. The decisions I make daily not only affect hundreds of people but can cost millions of dollars. I have never had any trouble and have always been confident in my decisions. Now I am constantly second guessing myself and have such a insecure feeling, in almost every aspect of my life.

I have no regrets or wishes about my father. I don't think, I wish I would have told him this or would have done that. We had a wonderful relationship and I am blessed that I had such a great friend, father and mentor. As he was lying in the hospital bed with a bi-pap mask on, he was trying to tell me something. I removed the masked and held his weakening hand. He looked at me with a big smile and said "Boy, I should have whipped your *ss more." We laughed and I will hold that in my heart forever.

What I am struggling with is the fact that the pain is getting worse. I can't seem to get back to a somewhat normal state. I don't dwell on it. But I could drop my head and cry at any given moment. I know that it will never go away, but I would like some reprieve. If anyone has advice, please feel free to offer.

Ivy A. Harper III

Comments for Why harder?

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Nov 24, 2013
Your dad
by: Jolynn

That is a cute picture of your dad. We used to take my son out to fish. Even went deep sea fishing. He loved it. You had a good dad. You have a great role model for your own kids.
Happy Thanksgiving to you.

Nov 23, 2013
your dad
by: Jolynn

I meant to write "Why Harder , not Try Harder" sorry. It sounds like your dad was warm, loving and funny. You obviously got those traits from him. The depth of our pain is equal to the depth of our love. A candle is a lovely idea. There is something about a candle that is spiritual and timeless. On Dec 8th there will be a mass candle lighting to honor all children who left us too soon. As candles are lit at 7:00pm hundreds of thousands of persons commemorate and honor the memory of all our children. The largest mass candle lighting on the globe. AS lights dim in one time zone others are lit so that our children's light may always shine. If you get a chance on Dec 8th please light a candle for my son, 1st Lt. Tyler C. Bockman. I realized at his graduation in Quantico that all who completed this arduous training, had already achieved something amazing, something far beyond the rest of America's youth. He was 23 when he became a 2nd Lt officer. He has risen far above the rest of our society in character, courage, honor and ability. Nothing of his achievement can ever be lost or taken back, So I honor my soldier everyday because he deserves it. If he had lived, he'd be proud of who he was and what he was doing. Now it's my duty to be proud for him just as now it's your duty to keep you dad's memory alive and treasure them for there are many. Grief lasts along time. It involves a crazy range of emotions, often extreme. bone-chilling horror to bottomless despair. It seems like you are moving thru your grief as difficult as it is. You will always miss him but the sharp pains will lessen. I think we will see our men again. Happy Thanksgiving to you, your family and your dear dad.

Nov 23, 2013
by: Ivy

We always have the holidays at our house. No matter where you expected Dad to sit, he would move to the opposite head of the table from me. It was kind of a joke among us. My wife would want to sit at the opposite head from me, but Dad would always beat her to it. She called the other day and we discussed how to handle the seating this year. She mentioned putting my Dad's cap in his spot, this I don't think I could easily handle. We decided to have a candle there. It is going to be very hard for me to look at the table and him not be there, but I think that the candle is a great thing. As a tradition, we always go around the table and tell what we are thankful for. My wife and I were working in Wyoming last year, but the year before, my Mom pointed at Dad and said that she is thankful for this Old Fart. I can see it like it was yesterday.

For Christmas, my wife will move to the opposite head chair at our table. But, for Thanksgiving, I like her idea.

Nov 19, 2013
Many Thanks
by: Ivy

Jolynn, I could not imagine and pray daily that I will never suffer the loss that you have. I lost a sister to cancer in 2009 and my prayer since then has been to out live my parents and not my children. Watching my parents endure the pain and grief was worse than actually losing my sister. It just seemed so unfair. I miss my sister dearly, but loosing my Dad has been far harder for me. In my line of work, I work 6-8 months and usually take a month or so off. I was blessed to be home and off when Dad passed. My very next project, I was working on a site that my Dad built in the 70s. I would go there with him when I was a kid. The first visit I made to the site, I was 9 years old again. But, I think that it was truly a blessing to be there. It was one of my Dad's favorite projects and I can feel his presence while there. If there is one thing I would like to do, it is tell him where I am working and what I am doing. I can see us sitting and sharing war stories about Galiano, Louisiana and all the fish we caught while he worked here. I really like your statement about not being another day without your son, but another day closer to seeing him again. Thanks, that is such an encouragement. Peace to you and God bless.


Nov 18, 2013
You are doing so well.
by: Jolynn

Try Harder, You are doing so well already. Unfortunately, we have to move thru the pain but each time you talk or write about it, it lessons the searing raw pain. I did not seek grief help until 6 months after he died.
Just want to encourage you a bit. My son died 1 year ago and things are a bit easier. I sleep with HIS shirt, I journal, I write him letters so I can tell him everything I wanted to and to say a proper goodbye. I put the letter in an envelope then I bury it, or put it in a drawer or take it to a safe spot to burn it.
I too have a funny story about my first grief counselor. She should not be working with the bereaved. She favored men and told us the most absurd things. She hadn't had any losses herself. Because my husband doesn't like to talk, I was relaying the whole story. She said to me "If you could just stop" then she moved her fingers into a yap, yap yap, sign "then maybe he would feel better"
It was so nasty yet funny. I searched around for another counselor despite my experience with HER and I found a wonderful therapist who has unbelievable listening skills and is very empathic. He has helped me enormously. Therapy isn't for everyone as groups are not but if you find that people do not understand your sadness or think you should get "over it", then groups are good support as you'll be around people who "Get it".
I try to look at my son's death as Not another day without him but as another day closer to my seeing him again. We are on a roller coaster ide as far as emotions go. One day I am functioning and fine. The next day or even moment, I see something that reminds me of him(you'd be amazed at how many TV show have Marines involved in plot!)and my heart is broken all over.

Nov 18, 2013
by: Mary Ireland

I lost both my parents in the last five years. it has been really tough especially losing the second one.What you are feeling is totally normal. I think grief only hits us sometime after the death as we remain numb for some time.Take each day as it comes and lean on those around you to offer support.Some times I thought I was going crazy with grief and I could break down at any time anywhere. Most people understand and those who don't either haven't been through it and haven't a clue or have no empathy. keep in touch this website is helping us all.

Nov 15, 2013
Doreen and Lisa
by: Ivy

Thanks to both of you for your words of encouragement. This is such good therapy for me to have the words of others. I am a firm believer in counseling, but find this website to be working for me. It was such a relief to hear that my grieving is not different from others. I really thought that I was about to lose it. Thanks again and may God bless you both.

Nov 14, 2013
Why Harder?
by: Doreen UK

Ivy I am shocked at your counselling experience. Even if it was funny, IT WAS WRONG. Don't give counselling a miss if you need this in the future. I did this many years ago and an amazing healing from this. It was painful, but the work was worth the benefit. My best investment. I then did voluntary work for a counselling charity. I am well read and have a good understanding of counselling. If you get the right counsellor it works. Counsellors have to go through rigorous counselling before they can work in this field. They also have regular supervision. If anyone has a bad counselling experience then please see the counsellors supervisor and let them know, because serious damage can be done to a client and the supervisor would need to put things right so the client leaves with closure of a bad experience. You probably did the counsellor a lot of good, but that was not your purpose for being there. If you paid, then you should get a refund. I wish you all the best in the days and months ahead and a successful recovery from grief.

Nov 14, 2013
Your dad
by: Lisa

Hi Ivy
I'm sorry for your loss .
I cannot write lots of heart felt feelings as I am grieving also and it is hard to put into words how you feel sometimes but I feel your pain.
Just try and remember the good times with your dad , the funny times and sometimes the most fantasic times as there are always some that are exceptional.
These I hope will put a little smile on your face and maybe a bit of warmth that touches your heart.

Nov 09, 2013
Dear Ivy,
by: Anonymous

I am so sorry about the loss of your father. I lost my Dad suddenly in January. It has been a long, hard 10 months, and I still feel like I could collpase under the weight of my grief at any given moment. But, somehow I have managed to go about my daily life taking care of my mother, my husband and my two children. I get through each day, but in the back of my mind I am ALWAYS thinking about my Dad. He died from Sudden Cardiac Arrest, so there was no "goodbye", but we had a wonderful relationship and I saw him almost daily. He spent a great deal of time with my children, and I know he died a happy man. That being said, I still can't get over the loss, and I don't think I ever will. It seems like I just saw him yesterday, and yet it seems like years since I have heard his voice. My sense of normal and my sense of time is all skewed. I have found a lot of comfort here, and I hope you will too. It sounds like you had a great relationship with your Dad, and I hope the memories will comfort you as well. I wish you peace as you continue to heal, Barb

Nov 09, 2013
by: Ivy

Thanks to you for your responses and I am so very sorry for your losses. It has been some relief to see that my grieving is not that different than others. I tried private counseling and had quite a funny, but bad experience. It was an older lady who told me all of her troubles and did not listen to mine at all. I actually interrupted her and she got aggravated with me. Her next statement started with "As I was saying..."

I really do appreciate the advice. I had actually just gotten home from a project in Wyoming, that kept me away for 6 months, just prior to Dad's passing. I took the next 2 months off and stayed busy remodeling our house. We were in the process when Dad passed. It seemed to be much easier while I was at home doing my duties there. When I left to go back out of town is when it got worse. I know that part of it is that I do spend much of my time alone in the afternoons. And I have made a commitment to get back in the gym and start working out again. Besides, I have put on a few extra pounds lately. I ride my motorcycle when possible and the wife and I started taking dance lessons again. So I am staying busy.

Finding this website has been a God send. I was at the point that I wasn't sure what to do. The counselor was not what I needed (I may have been a help to her an all her issues) and I tried to schedule another and got no call returned. But, I think that I will be fine with what I have found.

Thanks again and I am so very sorry to hear of your losses. May God give you comfort and strength.

Nov 09, 2013
Why Harder?
by: Doreen UK

Ivy you are a successful and exceptional young man. You are positive throughout your post. You had an amazing relationship with your dad that many dream of and I guess it is this loss that is crushing you. Often when we have such good relationships we want them to last forever. We don't want them to stop. You have accepted the fact that your father was of an age when you could lose him. But when it happens we can't believe the awful pain it leaves us holding. A type of pain that cannot be expressed but only felt as if it is coming from deep within our soul. You are also such a busy man with great responsibilities that you don't have the time to GRIEVE. The largest part of grief is CRYING. If you can do this WHENEVER then you are grieving in stages and this is normal. When you have a break from work spend this time NURTURING yourself. I did this for 6 months when I lost my husband to cancer 18 months ago. I did NOTHING. I took to the couch for 6 months with a body assaulted with grief. You are unable to do this due to your immense responsibilities. But you have to make time for YOURSELF. You will start to HEAL. The healing process is so slow. Be patient. It is very disabling when we suddenly feel strange like we have never done before. This is what grief does. Grief is a PROCESS we go THROUGH. It takes time to recover from grief. You will get your life back again. But it is a hard long journey back. Be patient with yourself. It is hard to understand grief and what happens when we have not lost anyone CLOSE like a parent, sibling, spouse, or child. These losses assault us the most. Grief counselling is also very beneficial for those people who can't cope with loss. It can be alarming when we feel depressed and cannot understand the feelings. It can take months or years to start to heal if grief is postponed. If someone is feeling such intense grief after years then they need to see a counsellor as they could be stuck in grief and need this expert skill from a counsellor to help them move forward. I am sorry for your Loss.

Nov 08, 2013
by: Jolynn

It sounds as if your dad had a great sense of humor and he obviously loved you a lot. I am sorry for your loss. Losing someone we love is so difficult and so many people who haven't experienced what we have, do not understand the depth of our sorrow. I lost my father a few years ago and lost my 26yr old son who was an officer in the Marines training to fly jets, a year ago. He was my hero. First of all, grief knows no time tables and everyone grieves differently. It is a myth that there are 5 stages. When death first occurs we are shrouded in shock and denial. This is our minds way of protecting us until we are ready to absorb the reality of it. It's not that we do not think they have gone, it's just that there is a surreal quality to it and we just move thru the motions. We take care of our loved one, then we get thru the service, people bring food and write letters and send cards. We have to answer them and then about six months later, everything has slowed down and shock and denial are gone. We are left with a gaping hole in our lives and a longing to reconnect with that person. It's almost to awful to think they are really gone forever. We've lost a father, a friend, a history and a shared lifetime. No one loves you as unconditionally as your parents. It takes effort to walk thru the grief at this later point. We must do things that help us cope even if we don't want to. I see a private grief counselor and go to a grief support group. Since the third week after my son died, I forced myself to go out with supportive friends and family. I have lunch weekly. Movies on weekends, daily walks. I make sure I leave my house at least once every day and do not isolate. I bring my son's shirt to bed. I have written him letters saying goodbye and telling him all the things I did not get a chance to say. It's a little easier at this 1 year mark but there are anniversary memories that are going to cause you stress because of the Holidays. It is natural to be "worse" around this time of year. You had so many memories with him. Please know some peace will come your way.

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