Ashley Maderr: Death of a Father

At the National Alliance for Grieving Children conference, Dr. Gloria Horsley talked with Ashley Maderr, who lost her father. Together with her mother and sister, Maderr now serves the bereaved. Located in California, Maderr was 20 years old when her father died. As an adult child, it can often be a disenfranchised loss that isn’t recognized. It was one of the toughest things she’s been through.

As a daughter, she didn’t realize how much she needed her dad until he was gone. Going through dating and being an older sister, it was critical to have a male perspective. At 20 years old, she was just starting to think about her father walking her down the aisle when she got married.

Moving Forward without Dad

Maderr and her father both had birthdays in the same month. It’s really hard to talk about the subject, but Maderr says that it’s okay to cry and it’s important to keep her head up. She refused to cry at his funeral, but she gave a eulogy. Afterward, she broke down. She encourages others to ask for help and feel free to cry. She didn’t want help, wouldn’t talk to her friends, and now  that four years have passed, Maderr realizes these are things she should have done. She wanted to stay in her cocoon and made everyone leave her alone.

It’s okay to have alone time, but when you’re ready to talk about it, there will always be support. However, you might need to be the one directing those relationships and conversations. Losing a parent is never easy at any age. As an adult, your friends and family might not know how to give you the support you need. It’s up to you to take control and tell others what you need from them.



Gloria Horsley

More Articles Written by Gloria

Dr. Gloria Horsley is an internationally known grief expert, psychotherapist, and bereaved parent. She started "Open to Hope" to help the millions in the world with grief. She is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Clinical Nurse Specialist, and has worked in the field of family therapy for over 20 years. Dr. Horsley hosts the syndicated internet radio show, The Grief Blog which is one of the top ranked shows on Health Voice America. She serves the Compassionate Friends in a number of roles including as a Board of Directors, chapter leader, workshop facilitator, and frequently serves as media spokesperson. Dr. Horsley is often called on to present seminars throughout the country. She has made appearances on numerous television and radio programs including "The Today Show," "Montel Williams," and "Sallie Jessie Raphael." In addition, she has authored a number of articles and written several books including Teen Grief Relief with Dr. Heidi Horlsey, and The In-Law Survival Guide.


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  • Divya says:

    My cousin has lost her dad 6 months ago and she has lost interest in everything. She often feels she and her mother could not give enough time to him and thats why he died. I want to help her come out of this trauma. Please help

  • Phyllis Comer Iheme says:

    I resigned from my teaching job to become caregiver for my Mother until she passed in May 2010. My father wanted to remain in their home, so I continued and became his caregiver until he passed 11/3/15. My sister and brother did not help me at all. Now they won’t even call to see if I am dead or alive.


  • Mignon Whitt says:

    Lost my father when I was 16. I am now 59. I loved him and we had a great relationship. I am married now with 2 sons in their 20’s. I cannot talk about my father without tears, because of course it still hurts. I think there is still a lot of grieving left to do. When it happened I immersed myself in work and became like him in many ways. What can I do to ease the pain I still feel. I am a very happy person and very positive. I have had a wonderful life, I just feel there are issues I am not dealing with. Thank you so much for your cooperation in this matter.

  • Paul says:

    For years I blamed my father for my failed marriage. He accepted my ex solely because I chose her to be my wife. It took me years to realize the fault was my own. I wanted to confront him with this issue but never got the chance nor the courage to do so. Nonetheless I cannot fault him any longer. Despite all he had done he was my father. I had learned to forgive him. Now it is time for me to let him go.

    Anger toward a parent can be an emotional, mental and physical drain. If you hold anger in your heart it will be that much more difficult to let go. Learn to forgive. You will find peace. In turn you will forgive the one who wronged you so you can start the healing process and move on.