A Wife Marvels at a Father’s Grief for His Daughter

By Harriet Hodgson —

The death of a child is a lifetime loss and parents never recover from it.  Instead, they learn to live with it.  A popular belief is that men don’t cry; they hold their feelings inside.  But my husband is not like that.  Our daughter’s sudden death at age 45 from the injuries she received in a car crash affected him the same way it affected me.  The shock stunned us.

I have seen him cry.

We cried together and took turns with our crying days.  When I was overcome with sorrow, he comforted me.? When he was overcome with sorrow, I comforted him.

After our daughter died, our former son-in-law moved in with our twin grandchildren. Nine months later, he was killed in another car crash – another time for tears.  Jeffrey A. Kottler writes about the effect of crying in The Language of Tears.  Crying aloud, according to Kottler, “not in self pity but in grief and pain,” is an invitation for others to cry.  My husband was not afraid to share his tears.

I have seen him care.

The death of our former son-in-law made our grandchildren orphans and us GRGs – grandparents raising grandchildren.  We didn’t expect to be raising teens in our 70s. Parenting teenagers takes energy and, in order to have this energy, we divided our duties.  I would take care of meals, the house, and teen schedules.  My husband (a retired physician), would take care of health problems, our daughter’s estate, and our grandchildren’s estate.

Later, when his grief was less raw, he told stories about the loved ones who died.  Some stories were funny, which is important to teens.  “Remind yourself of all the good times you had together,” advises Helen Fitzgerald, author of The Grieving Teen.  Telling happy stories is my husband’s way of showing he cares.

I have seen him accept pain.

The insurance company would continue to insure our daughter’s home if we checked her house regularly, and preferably daily.  We used to do this together, but the house was such a quiet and sorrowful place, I sobbed every time I walked in the door.  Though it caused him equal pain, my husband took over this task.  He accepted the pain of death and life without his daughter.  “It takes enormous courage to face pain directly and honestly,” Judy Tatelbaum writes in The Courage to Grieve.  The man I married has always been a man of courage.

I have seen him cope.

Since our daughter was an adult, she did not share financial information with us.  For the past two years, my husband has been searching for her assets: back wages, life insurance benefits, savings accounts, investments, and stock certificates.

To find these assets you need the skill of a private detective and the patience of Job.  The fact that my husband has these qualities was not a surprise.  “Bereaved people tend to grieve in the same manner as they conduct the rest of their lives,” notes Therese A. Rando, PhD in How to Go in Living When Someone You Love Dies. This is true of my husband.

I have seen him reconcile grief.

Our twin grandchildren were 15 years old when they moved in with us and are 17 years old now.  As time passes, our granddaughter looks more like her mother.  The resemblance is startling.  “I don’t know whether to smile or cry,” my husband said.  I feel the same way.  Though we have cried, we are comforted by this resemblance.  We are also comforted by our grandson’s resemblance to our daughter.

I have seen a father’s love.

Visiting our daughter’s grave does nothing for us.  We did not visit it last year and we will not visit it this year on Father’s Day.  Rather, we will honor our daughter’s memory by raising her children and loving them more each day.  We will do this together, just as we have done everything together during our 52 years of marriage.  I know my husband well, but watching him grieve taught me something new.  A father’s love for his child is stronger than death.

Copyright 2009 by Harriet Hodgson

Harriet Hodgson, BS, MA, has been an independent journalist for 30 years.  She is a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors, the Association of Health Care Journalists and the Association for Death Education and Counseling.  She writes for www.ezinearticles.com and has Expert Author and Platinum status.  A prolific writer, Hodgson is the author of hundreds of Internet and print articles and 27 books.

All of Hodgson?s writing comes from experience and her recent work focuses on grief. She is the author of Smiling Through Your Tears: Anticipating Grief, an Amazon book, written with Lois Krahn, MD, Chair of the Department of Psychiatry at Mayo Clinic, in Scottsdale, Arizona, USA.

Hodgson is also the author of Writing to Recover: The Journey from Loss and Grief to a New Life, published by Centering Corporation in Omaha, Nebraska, a nationally-known grief resource center.  Centering Corporation has also published the Writing to Recover Journal, which contains 100 writing prompts, and the Writing to Recover Affirmations Calendar, a collection of nature photos and life affirmations.

A popular speaker, Hodgson has given presentations at Alzheimer’s, hospice, and public health conferences.  She has appeared on more than 160 radio talk shows, including CBS Radio, WCCO Radio and Coping With Caregiving, an Internet-only radio program broadcast worldwide.  Hodgson has also appeared on dozens of television programs/stations, including CNN.

Her work is cited in Something About the Author, Who’s Who of American Women, Who’s Who in America, Contemporary Authors, and the next edition of World Who’s Who of Women. Hodgson is a GRG – grandparent raising grandchildren – and lives in Rochester, MN with her husband John and her twin grandchildren.  For more information on this busy author and grandmother go to www.harriethodgson.com

Harriet Hodgson

More Articles Written by Harriet

Harriet Hodgson has been a freelancer for 38 years, is the author of 36 books, and thousands of print/Internet articles. She is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists, Minnesota Coalition for Grief Education and Support, and Grief Coalition of Southeastern Minnesota. In 2007 four of her family members died—her daughter (mother of her twin grandchildren), father-in-law, brother (and only sibling), and the twins’ father. Multiple losses shifted the focus of Hodgson’s work from general health to grief resolution and recovery, and she is the author of eight grief resources. Hodgson has appeared on more than 185 radio talk shows, including CBS Radio, dozens of blog talk radio programs, and dozens of television stations, including CNN. In addition to writing for Open to Hope, Hodgson is a contributing writer for The Grief Toolbox website, and The Caregiver Space website. A popular speaker, she has given presentations at public health, Alzheimer’s, hospice, grief, and caregiving conferences. Hodgson’s work is cited in Who’s Who of American Women, World Who’s Who of Women, Contemporary Authors, and other directories. For more information about this busy wife, grandmother, author and family caregiver, please visit www.harriethodgson.com.

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