the King Is Dead, Long Live the King

As a boy, I remember being deeply concerned with the mortality of my father.  After work, he would fall asleep on the couch, and before I would go to tap him on the shoulder to wake him up, I wondered if he had passed on and that my attempts to wake him would be futile.  I was not particularly anxious or nervous about that moment -- it was more of a silent preparation for the when, and not if, of his inevitable demise. 

I have since learned that there is very little that can prepare you for the death of a parent.  While it is clichéd that a bad parental relationship might lead to regret later in life, a vibrant relationship with one's mother or father hurts just as much, as the loss is accentuated by the strands of friendship which added and colored to the bond. 

My relationship with my father was somewhere in the middle, and years after his death, I still find myself grappling with the totality of who he was.   He was loving, but he also arrogant; kind, but extremely judgmental; compassionate to the needy, but totally unforgiving to those he deemed unworthy of his affection.  His was a world of defined roles and categories, yet also one where the most important duty was to aid one's fellow human.  The simple fact was that he, like all of us, contained multitudes. 

The night I learned of his death, I cried.  But I did not begin to feel the weight of loss until many months later.  At first it had just felt like he had gone on vacation.  Only after some time had passed did the enormity of his absence begin to sink in. 

It was at that point, after the funeral had been long over, that I began to suffer an incredible sense of loneliness.  My father had been a role model and advisor; now, there was no one I felt I could look up to.  I was completing a graduate program when he had died, and I felt extremely isolated from everything and everybody.  I could not relate to the problems of my peers, who would complain about homework, classes, and youthful relationships, and I grew angry that I had no one with whom I could genuinely connect with.  It would take time for me to realize that just as I could not blame anyone for the death of my father, it was wrong of me to blame other people for not being able to share in my experience. 

Over time, the tremendous emptiness left by my father was slowly filled with my own presence.  There is a saying, a very old saying -- "the King is dead, long live the King" -- which perhaps might articulate my own experience as a son learning to accept a world bereft of one's archetypal authority figure.  I feel I was given incredible shoes to fill at a young age without any guide to point me in the right directions.  I have made mistakes, and I will continue to do so, but I have also developed a deep sense of trust about my own capabilities.   His death forced me to think about what really matters in life.  

There is not a day that I do not think of him or wonder what he might think of me if he were still here; but by taking the best of his qualities and learning lessons from his life, I like to think that I have kept the flame of his spirit dancing within the halls of my own being.  In that sense, he has never left, and he will continue to accompany me during the remainder of my own limited time on this planet. 
Seraph1m Seraph1m
26-30, M
32 Responses Feb 14, 2006

That was beautifully written. Thank you so much for sharing.

Love never leaves us empty and alone - though we may feel that way initially when a loved one passes away or leaves our practical day to day life. I am glad you are aware you are keeping your Father's spirit alive within your own. That is a blessing.

I lost my beloved dad on 22/05/2011 and it was the most painful day of my life. He loved me a lot and worked very hard for family. He was only 54; Now the whole world is looking empty. You know, since last 1 yr. my dad was asking me to marry but, I didn't listen to him. Now, this issue is biting me like a sword; even sometime I'm feeling to commit suicide. But, I can't; because my mom is still alive and if I do something silly what will be her condition?<br />
<br />
After his death all my believe in GOD are gone.

Very True - This Will Be A Reference I Cam Always Look Too.<br />
<br />
It Kinda Sounded Like You Were Talking About My Own Father x

I miss my dad!

my father died a year ago.. <br />
i understand what you mean, i feel the same way too.<br />
Long live the king!

I'm 39 and lost my dad in March. I think guys take it tough as father's tend to be that rock that we depend on. Once their gone, the best way to honor their life is to be your father's sons and daughters. Hopefully they have given us what we need to go on.

I am 47 now.<br />
<br />
I have both my parents; it has been a journey. I have come to see them and love them as fully human.<br />
<br />
I am so lucky, and I know this.<br />
<br />
My mother is the matriarch. I remember when she became this and how she felt.<br />
<br />
I am next in line. (And, I can not imagine being as present and engaged in it all as she has been. Someone help me. I will just have to learn how to do it as myself.)<br />
<br />
I know loss is sooner than later these days and I wonder how it will be. I trust their unconditional love and call them frequently. I wish I lived near them. My brother and sister in law built an apartment over their garage for them.<br />
<br />
It is a beautiful place. Farmland, woods, they garden and watch the birds. They have never been so happy.<br />
<br />
I will hold this when the time comes.<br />
<br />
And, I will hold your story. What a struggle you were gifted with at such a young age, as many of the writers here have been.<br />
<br />
Yes, I cherish what I have.<br />
<br />
Thank you,<br />
<br />

I share your sentiments - I lost an excellent father at age 5! But also at the tender age of 5 one tends to "idolize" one's father and is blind to anything other than his heroic image. Thanks for writing this piece - it's one of the best I've seen on here -ever! I lost my mother 5 years ago and she was extremenly critical of me but only now - since her death - have I come to see the value in what I did learn from watching her and I see that she was not All Bad - I'm sorry - I'm not as articulate as you today and very tired - so I'll end this abruptly. Again, Thanks. Good writing and a very good, very relatable story ;).

That's an amazing story.


You are lucky you had a dad. I never did. I did have my grandfather and I was his princess. He died just days before I turned 18. I never trusted a man the way I did my papa.

To everyone who is someone's child:<br />
<br />
Our parents are gained and lost, twice.<br />
We gain them first as gods and heroes upon our births, but lose them when we realize their human mortality.<br />
<br />
If we are wise and fortunate, we regain them when we have taken on adulthoods and realize their mortal heroism as we are called to exercise the same. We lose them once more and forever when they die.<br />
<br />
My own father died before I regained him and I mourn both of his deaths. I was fortunate enough, but barely wise, to have regained somewhat my mother before she passed.<br />
<br />
Our greatest memorials to them are our lives - to be the best mothers and fathers, husbands and wives, the best PEOPLE, in their memories and names.<br />
<br />
Strength, courage, and wisdom to us all.<br />
<br />

Wonderfully written. I lost my father november 29, 2007.

I think your story was really good, I too had many experiences of strengthening identity after my fathered passed, but to be honest It's like he never really left, I found the him in me, and I cherish it as much as I cherished him, Thanks Dad I love me.

Thank you for your story. you have touched such a deep nerve of mine. My Dad was an airline pilot, and as such, frequently gone from home, and so mysterious. Sadly, he took his own life when he was 42 years old. I was 18. He left such s large hole in my world. Although I didn't know him at all, really. He scared me, but I still loved him so much. I do think of him every day, and now that I am older than him, when he died....I would give almost anything to talk to him now. <br />
<br />
Bless the memory of your time with your Dad, hold him in your heart, and have that keep you strong, and sweet.<br />
<br />

My face is stained with tears, You put in to words, what I am struggling to connect with. My dad past on 6 months ago. I am still so raw, & just stating to feel the reality that my Hero is gone.<br />
TY for ur words.

Beautiful thoughts. Nothing prepares us for taking our places as the elders in our families. I miss, deeply and savagely, both of my parents and struggle to be to my family what they were to me. They made it look easy.

Your story is so beautiful the way you explain the loss of your father and how you keep his spirit alive within you. There are alot of similarities in your dad and mine and I actually take hours to sit and be alone with him just wondering what would he say, what would he do, and just taking time to cherish memories. And throughout my life with him, oh, we had our major major differences and probably because I am alot like him. There are times still where that weight of his loss falls on me but I have come to terms with it. I think the hardest part is knowing I will never have the answers that could only come from him.

I loved your story. Filled with feeling,heart, and soul.<br />
My Father died 7 years ago. Even though I'm a female,my father and I were so close .A lot closer than my mother and I.My Father and I were also a lot alike. Really good sense of humor.Really dark moods. Generous.Hard to please. smart,lonely,loving,withdrawn. I loved him and miss him terribly. Thanks for your story. It made me think and feel and remember.<br />

Thank you for sharing your story. I also often find myself thinking of my parents death. I seem to lose myself within these morbid thoughts of many articulate details of how death might take them. Then I finally get a grip on my thoughts & shake them off. I seem to think that my thoughts come from watching so many people in my family die. Maybe it's my fear of being left to raise my young sister on my own and failing. But, I do know that one day the time will come & I will have to face that life will go on & I will have their lessons to guide me.

My Dad worked hard all his life to rear his family, manual energy sapping work, thank God I was at his bedside when he passed away in 1993. On that fateful day as I held his hand for the last time the power of his grip, & the cords of steel that were the muscles of his arms will remind me forever of the man he was.<br />
I am often told that I am his image, but I never be half the man that he was. Proud to have known him

Beautiful story. I have also thought about the death of my parents but somehow those thoughts get drowned out by "life" daily. And then slowly the thoughts creep back into my consciousness. Thinking about this, to me, is an anticipation of my own death. And like you, I re-evaluate what is important to me. I do not share the same experience but I anticipate this experience to come one day, and part of me is very afraid of what I may feel.

I was very close to my dad. We grew even closer when my mom and sister died, and it was a terrible shock when he passed away as well. I fell into depression a few months after his death, and then it seems I've gone back into shock. I could talk about what had happened with a strange coldness, as though I was telling someone about what I had for breakfast! <br />
<br />
Now the pain is back. It frustrates me that I'm still not over his death. It's been three years, and I feel depressed once more :(

Good story! For a boy and his dad it is always about - The King Is Dead, Long Live the King. I spent a long time running from this confrontation, finally I couldn't avoid it. - After many years of absence, I returned to poetry about 12 years ago. Rex was the first one, and it applies directly to this idea. Here it is:<br />
Rex<br />
Born a prince, raised in a castle<br />
Mother was kind, father was mad<br />
A king not above, eating his young<br />
To live, I grew smaller, weaker, more bent<br />
On self-destruction with each year<br />
Then one crimson morning<br />
Fate hurled me into battle like a spear<br />
I lived in the company of demons<br />
Marching through landscapes of terror<br />
Villages burned, crows pecked carrion<br />
Howls of lamentation blew through the air<br />
Like madrigals and monks chanting prayers<br />
Courage, an unknown flower<br />
Grew from inside my despair<br />
Compassion emerged from the darkness<br />
Of my cruel and damaged heart<br />
Miraculously I triumphed<br />
And was awarded with the throne<br />
Now must I become a righteous king<br />
Wise, gentle, brave<br />
How shall I be it if I have never seen it?

I recently lost my grandmother, who raised me in the absence of my mother. I understand, and applaud you - you've put it more eloquently than I would have ever managed.

My father died 1 year ago at age 89. He had multiple strokes before he died; Mom died in 1986. He moved to my state because he knew I would care for him. I am one of 5 children. I cannot remember my father ever saying "I love you" or hugging me. I always wanted to please him. But taking care of him 24/7 for 3 years was too much for me to bear. I bathed and diapered him; took him to his doctors and fed him breakfast at 3:00 AM. I still want his approval, but it will never come. Be proud of what you have!

Wonderful insight and well written. <br />
<br />
Thankyou for sharing heartfelt<br />
insight. It is a concern of sociologists and psychiatrists, that many men do not have good examples of emotional sharing from their fathers.<br />
<br />
Your story is a good example.

I lost my dad at a young age to. I was eight when he died. Wounds like that don't really heal do they?, but they do shape the person you grow into.

My parents are still alive. Still unhappily married in fact!<br />
<br />
But I remember as a kid thinking about them dying. Or divorcing (which I kinda hoped they'd do!)

What kinda person wants their parents dead?