Facing One of My Deepest Fears – Attending Dad’s Funeral

One of my deepest fears in life was attending my Dad’s funeral. I lived with that fear most of my life. After Dad died of his brain tumor on November 21, 2018 this fear was staring my down. Dad’s funeral was now a reality and something that I had to go through. This is a personal post that I wanted to do as I am dealing with my Dad’s loss.

“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.”

Mark Twain

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”

Nelson Mandela

I hereby command you: Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Joshua 1:8-9 NRSVCE

As I have aged there is one thing that I have feared, one situation that I have dreaded most of my life. And then with my Dad’s death I find myself facing that fear which I didn’t want to face. In all honesty I wanted to run in the other direction and flee.

 

One of My Deepest Fears

When I was younger my love for Mom and Dad was deep and tight. I looked up to Mom and Dad for love, inspiration, kindness and more. Their influence in my life was profound and made me who I am today. If I were to think of the biggest influence on my life they would have to be Mom and Dad. Due to this situation I feared losing them. But I especially feared losing Dad. I felt like this because I feared what it would symbolize. Changing generations and the loss of someone who is irreplaceable. That can’t be described in words, its more of a feeling as I process it. But for most of my life I actually feared my Dad’s funeral. I dreaded the day that it occurred and wanted to avoid it completely. So I had this feeling hidden deep inside me of that I was afraid to share or speak about. Through the changes of life, moving to Montana, Wisconsin and the Washington, D.C. area this feeling was there. And when Dad died on November 21, 2018 I found myself staring down that fear. Dad had died, now was going to be the funeral. How do I deal with that fear? How do I process all that emotion?

 

Getting Through December 5, 2018

When I was at the funeral home I walked out of the funeral planning at one point. It was too painful to go through. I felt like I was being suffocated by pain and loss. But I also didn’t want to plan a funeral. I feared attending Dad’s funeral for much of my life. How could I develop the courage to go through something that emotionally I was struggling with? Yet despite these fears I worked with family and worked at planning a funeral. I tried to imagine what Dad would have wanted. Choosing the wood for the coffin based off what he said about Mom’s coffin in 2017. Tried to help make decisions that needed to be made so that his funeral would be a vibrant reminder of his life.

The night before my Dad’s funeral I really didn’t sleep. I had a lot of emotions tearing me apart. One was the fear of attending Dad’s funeral. The other was just laying in bed and realizing that day was tomorrow – December 5, 2018. So I laid on my back in bed and just stared at the ceiling and felt the clock tick down overnight. I felt my heart beat and the air felt heavy. As night became morning I got up with hardly any sleep. Getting dressed and preparing for the funeral. On the news was George HW Bush’s funeral which took place on December 5, 2018. In my mind I thought of how I would remember this day, Dad’s funeral and burial would coincide with Bush’s funeral.

At 9:00 the limousine arrived. I stood in front of my house thinking, “So it begins.” When we arrived at the Catholic church I felt like I was on the edge. Many people wanted to speak to me and I acknowledged them which felt like a blur. During the service I had to read one of the readings. I was full of apprehension before I went up. I was still processing my fear of going through my Dad’s funeral. During the reading I spoke slowly. At one point I thought I was going to lose it. I honestly thought that I would lose control of my emotions. I felt it creeping up and someone I stopped for a second too a breath, and continued. The reading was over. The funeral felt like the longest hour or so of my life. It also was one of the only situations where I didn’t check my Android and looked at the news or social media. For me it would have been deeply inappropriate to do so in the middle of a funeral. And then the funeral ended. I walked up following the casket with a tear rolling down my check. I was breathing slowly and I was trying to get through the end of the service. For me it was trying to get through an hour minute by minute as it happened. And somehow that happened. One thing I know is that now that the funeral is over, I don’t have to deal with this fear again. My Dad’s funeral will only happen once. The grieving and mourning process will be long term and that will be another post.

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  1. Pingback: Jonathan Neef of Christ Community Church in Olathe, Kansas on the Process of Grief | Wondering Eagle

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