A Note to Anyone Who Has Lost a Parent, or is Feeling Hurt by Their Parents
Updated: Jun 23, 2021
by Kunaal Nanik
My father passed away on 8th April 2020, after a year of battling diabetes-related complications that led to limb amputations. The last year of his life was the hardest for him and for us as a family. My father was very active during his lifetime but became completely dependent for the most basic tasks towards the end. He left us unexpectedly, at the peak of the pandemic lockdown. We could not be with him during his last days in the hospital. Sometimes we ask ourselves if things would be different if we could have held his hand and given him the courage to fight during his last days of isolation.
I did everything I could to support him during this difficult time, but the Almighty had different plans for him. I have realized that you can do everything in your power to help a loved one heal, but when it is their time to go, nothing makes a difference. I tell myself he suffered enough, and at least now he is pain free in heaven. This is how I try to find peace to accept my loss.
My father and I traveled extensively together, for work and leisure, creating many fond memories. He played multiple roles in my life. He was my best friend, partner, mentor, boss and sibling, since I am an only child. We were very attached to one another. We fought a lot of battles in life together, side by side, as one team. I was the only person in the world who understood him, whom he trusted blindly and in whom he could confide. Over the last few years, he became my child. I can’t say exactly when the roles reversed, but I guess that is the circle of life. In our early years, our parents look after us, but as we get older, we become their parents.
Since losing my dad, I have had dreams of spending time with him. Dreams that feel so real, your senses cannot distinguish them from reality. Dreams that belong to a future that never had the chance to happen. However, once I wake up and realize I am dreaming, it brings me an immense sense of sorrow and emptiness to know I will not see him at the breakfast table. I still have moments when memories of his last days overwhelm me: going in and out of operation theatres, helping him with physiotherapy sessions, motivating and encouraging him to keep fighting, and performing his last rites.
We spend so much time on our careers, networking, chasing opportunities and seeking formal education. We spend so much more time with our friends than we do with our parents. If I could go back in time, I would spend a lot more recreational time with my father who was a workaholic. I would make as many memories as I possibly could which would take me through the rest of my life without him.
If you have lost a parent, I want you to know, you are not alone. If you sink when you hear a song, pass a restaurant, watch a parent-child moment in a movie or look at old family photos, you are not alone. I can tell you even now, one year later, just looking at my father’s picture is an overwhelming reminder he is no longer with us. Looking at a photo requires a lot of strength. I find it difficult to watch new seasons of Netflix shows that we used to watch together in our end of day TV sessions. You may have your own unique triggering moments. You are not alone.
Losing a parent is a phase of life everyone has to go through at some point of time. However, this fact of life is no consolation for the pain, sorrow, and emptiness you may feel. They say, this is the circle of life. The only difference amongst us is how we spend that life we have together.
So dear readers, if you have strained relationships with either one or both of your parents, please try to sort it out. I had a wonderful relationship with my dad, a type of relationship that was so rare that it surprised most of my friends. And yet, I wish I had more time with him. Yes, we did disagree, had passionate fights, but we could not stand to see pain in each other's eyes. We would always sort things out. Whatever is your domain of conflict with your parents, try to reach a middle ground. Take the first step and don’t let your ego come in the way.
Give your parents the same respect you would give your boss at work, or a professor in class. We tend to take our parents for granted. Be patient with them; they may be forgetful or tend to repeat themselves. Remind yourself to be empathetic; your parents are from a different generation and what seems obvious to you may not be the case for them. They may have not had the same access to the internet, technology, education or travel as you have had. However, please remember it is only their sacrifices that have brought you to this stage in life where you can afford to have an opinion or participate in an argument. Don’t wait to lose your parents to start cherishing them. You will never be more precious to anyone else in your life. This is my dad’s message to you.