I’m going to talk about death in this blog. Since it’s a sensitive topic, I’m giving you a heads up.
If your daddy has already passed away, chances are you know you weren’t ready for it. You didn’t know how to prepare or it was sudden and now it’s too late. Hopefully, since then, you’ve healed or the pain has subsided. For many of you there is still an ache from unresolved wounds. Much of what I’m going to talk about below can be adjusted even if your father is no longer living.
HEALING IS ALWAYS POSSIBLE.
If your daddy is still alive, I am almost positive you aren’t prepared for his death, because who ever wants to think their daddy is going to die? You either think he never will or you think you’re better off not thinking about it anyway. You probably think you’ve gone about as far as you can go with him, or even if you want to go further, he won’t want to or it won’t go well. Trust me, your daddy knows he is going to die, better than you do, and he might, just might, still want a chance to say and hear a few things from you.
The reason this is on my mind is that I just witnessed my dear friend Hildie, one of our coaches, sit by her father’s side through the process of his dying. She happens to be a strong, wise and loving person with a strong, wise and loving dad, but everyone has things they need to say to their dad that have been unsaid. Lucky for her, she has a methodology to follow and a community to guide and support her through this heart-wrenching transition. Lucky for her, she knew her father was dying over several months time and had a chance to do the last bits of work she needed to do with him. Even with death looming it wasn’t that easy to convince her to SAY EVERYTHING and be fully present. It turns out those scary moments of truth telling were the ones of greatest intimacy that she now holds the most dear after his passing.
She is very glad she did the work to say everything. He was very glad she did, too. He died in peace. Watching Hildie now, just a few days later, she seems amazingly calm and whole and she credits this to the work she did to connect with her father in his final months; work she insists you SHOULD DO way before it comes to that.
Get a feel for how The Handel Method® could benefit you.
I wanted Hildie to share with you what her process was like so perhaps you could benefit. I asked her a few questions.
Laurie: Is this okay for me to be asking you about so soon after your dad’s passing?
Hildie: Yes, my dad would be honored if his life and our honesty helped other people.
Laurie: How did you start having a real relationship with your dad?
Hildie: It was long before he got sick and I was doing my Handel work. Part of it was to start telling him the truth about my past and some choices I had made that I was scared he’d judge me about. I spent a lot of my life being the daughter I thought he wanted me to be and not being myself. It was stifling my growth as a woman. So one day I sat down and asked if he wanted to know the real me. He said yes, so I started telling him.
Laurie: Did you expect your dad to want to have a real relationship with you?
Hildie: I was afraid to tell my father things. Even at age 52, I was still hiding things and voting on what he could handle and acting like a little girl. After the most embarrassing things, he told me he loved me more. He asked me why I thought he wouldn’t love me for all that I was, not just parts. I had no good answer.
Laurie: What was it like after you started being real with your dad, equal to equal?
Hildie: Laurie, it was the wildest thing. It was like he had been waiting for me to start talking. He was waiting for me to be ready. He sat me down and started telling me everything about his life, including his darkest secrets. It was so totally intimate I could barely stand it.
Laurie: So you had the foundation for telling the truth until the very end. What was that like?
Hildie: Still scary. Through everything I always felt the pull to pretend. At the very end I didn’t want to tell him that I was scared of his death and scared that he was scared. And he didn’t want to tell me that he was scared. But we did tell each other the truth and it left us feeling very connected to each other, soul to soul. In light of the truth, I felt unconditional love and that was very comforting.
Laurie: What do people need to understand about this process?
Hildie: People need to know that although it’s scary to say goodbye to someone you love, that avoiding it doesn’t stop the fear or the sadness. Only going through it makes it feel better. You will want to pretend death is not happening, but resist and say everything there is to say now.
Laurie: What do you want to tell people whose parents aren’t dying?
Hildie: Take your parents off the pedestal (or out of the ditch). You are two equal souls, not one above the other. Start telling everything, being the adult you want to be rather than the child you think they want.
Laurie: Specifically, what did you tell your dad that made such a difference in your relationship?
Hildie: My assignment was to write a letter covering everything in my whole life I ever hid from him, all my regrets, all my hurts and things I held against him and how I could forgive him, and then what I was grateful for and what I could promise him about my future. I could barely get through reading it to him but it was one of the most important days of my life. I hope everyone gets to write and read a letter like that to their parents, even if it’s at their gravesite. Things just have to get said.
Laurie: It sounds like that process was even more for you than it was for him. How did he take it?
Hildie: It was more for me. It was part of growing up for me. I think I made him really proud. He also became comfortable telling me the truth about everything and we became extremely close in a way we never had been before. I feel so grateful I got to feel my dad’s unconditional love, and he mine, before he died.
I hope you are inspired by Hildie and her dad’s honesty and courage. If you think you could never do this, you are in good company; neither did any of us coaches, but we did. And we can help you do it, too. To the highest of healing for us all. Join us at the next Design Your Life Weekend if you’d like to begin this process.