When Dad Dies.

As most of you all know, my father passed away earlier this month. I’ve said that this was my first father’s day spent without him, but really, it wasn’t. As I’ve mentioned before, my relationship with him was rocky at best, and I didn’t see him often at all until the last couple of years before his death, and even then, it was only once every so often. I have several father’s day cards stored away in my room with notes in them that I had planned to have given to him but they were never delivered. I remember him having a box full of cards from us kids in his trailer that he had several years ago, and how much they meant to him, and I look back on those cards with great regret, thinking I should’ve done more, tried harder to express how I felt about him. He loved his children, that much I know for certain. I’m much better at posting Biblical studies and sermon notes and etc, far better than I am at posting emotional, personal things, so please bare with me.

I knew that my father was getting very close to death’s door a long time ago. I’ve spent years thinking to myself..this could be the day he dies. I’ve visited him in the hospital more times than I can remember, thinking there’s no way he’s leaving here alive. But he always left. For awhile, I grasped onto a bit of hope, thinking that I could somehow convince him to get sober, to go to a rehab center, get help. Like I could somehow be enough for him to quit cold turkey. But he couldn’t. He didn’t. My father was a very bad drug addict, he battled addiction for longer than I’ve been alive, and there was only one hope for him. Not love for his life. Not love for his children. But a love for God. At the end of his life, he did tell me that he was saved. I went to his hospital room, convinced that he was going to be dying that week, and I brought my Bible and a book, and I prayed with him, and I shared the gospel with him, and with tears in his eyes, he prayed with me. He told me about his recent near death experience and told me that he’d felt God’s presence, and that he had been saved. I brought him a Bible which I now have back in my possession, and he read it. When I retrieved it after his death, he had written some notes; most of them very random, and some of them so messy that I could barely read them. He was not in his right mind, but still…he read it. He had half-written notes poked into different books of the Bible, a few bookmarks, a few dogears. So I take comfort in that, knowing that he had the Bible and he had a way to read it. Whether or not he was truly saved is something I struggle with, and I imagine it could be a struggle I deal with for the rest of my life here on earth.

My father, nearly 30 years ago.

My father was 58 years old when he passed away. He left behind four children who would have done anything, given him anything, in order to have seen him sober. He left behind a daughter who would have given up nearly anything to have had him in her life as a true father. Who has suffered this father’s day, knowing that she can’t call him and hear his voice. A daughter who has so many regrets popping up in her mind, so many thoughts running through her head…what should I have said? What could I have done better? Was I a good enough daughter? Did I show Jesus’ love to him? Did I do things right?

The sermon this evening was titled “When Dad Dies” given by Pastor Clarence Sexton at Temple Baptist Church. I sat on the pew, my mother in between me and my oldest brother who also struggles with addiction (and has been clean for over 7 months, praise God.) and he told us the title of the message, told us the scripture, and shared his own personal stories about his father. About how it felt to have lost a father at a young age. We talked about Joseph, who had to bury his father. (Genesis 50) I sat on the pew tonight and I cried. I cried over my father. Over the guilt I feel for so many things. But I also felt a relief. I was able to share the gospel with him, and the last few meetings were positive. The last few conversations I had with him were positive.

My father and I.

Pastor Sexton talked about death; perhaps not the typical Father’s Day sermon (he told us that he’d never preached on this before.) but something I needed to hear. Something my mother and brother needed to hear. I’d like to share a few of his points and write about what these things mean to me, as I’ve experienced the loss of a father. I’d like to be real, not hide or attempt to sugarcoat my feelings. Death is raw. Death is sad. But it doesn’t have to be, for Christians. Death is something that happens to all of us. We all have an appointment with death…so let us be realistic about it and know what we need to be doing in order to prepare for death, not just our own, but the death of a loved one. Let us be living like tomorrow is not going to be happening for that loved one, or maybe, it won’t happen for ourselves. Let us live and practice forgiveness, let us give out grace and love, and remember…we will die the same way that we live.

1.) Know that Death is coming to all of us.

We all have an appointment with God. Whether we are saved or not, death is inevitable. I pray that everyone reading this is saved and on their way to Heaven, but I understand that realistically, that may not be the truth. We need to realize that there is no escaping death, so we have to live like tomorrow may not happen. We need to be living in a way that we would be proud of if we were to die. What kind of legacy would we leave behind? And then, there’s the other scenario..the one that made me think more. If a loved one, whether it be your father, or a friend, or a cousin, or an aunt…if they were to die tonight, would you regret your last conversation? Would you look back on how you treated them and have to live with that regret for the rest of your life? We need to be treating others like they are on their last day, because they might be. I look back on some times with my father, I remember the way I spoke to him, the way I talked about him, the way I ignored him…and I feel so thankful because God allowed him to pass away when we were at a good place. Not after an argument, or after I had been treating him so terribly.

We are all getting closer to death..so remember this whenever you have your next interaction with that person that you are struggling with. You may be visiting their grave before you get a chance to make amends. It may be too late.

2.) Know that God has already conquered death.

Are we living in a way that proves our God has conquered death? If we are saved, we know that, regardless if death comes now or later, God has already beaten death. We are safe in His arms. We don’t have to feel discouraged when we think of death if we are saved, and if we are saved, we need to be telling others about this. That death doesn’t have to be an end..it is a beginning. Death is a victory if we are in Christ Jesus.

I can’t escape or beat death. My father couldn’t. You can’t. But God already did.

3.) Have concern for the living.

We know that there was nothing that Joseph could’ve done for his father. He had died, there was no bringing him back from the dead. So he did what his father asked him to do before his death, and he made sure that he was not buried in Egypt. He fulfilled his last wishes and spent time in mourning. He wept. The Bible used these words, he wept, in a couple different occasions, and we know that these are very meaningful words. Joseph was a strong man, no doubt, but he wept over the death of his father. Surely, he looked back on things, perhaps like I have done, and he had regrets. He had good memories and bad ones. He wished he could’ve had one more moment with his father. He wished he could bring him back for just a second, just to hear his voice. Just to see his face. But he couldn’t change the situation, so he took care of things and did what his father wanted done.

We can’t change things once death has occurred. We can’t fix things with those people. If they are in Heaven, they are at peace. They hold no grudges. But we can’t apologize to them and make ourselves feel more at peace when they are gone. So we need to have a concern for the living. While these people are still here, make sure that you are treating them in a Godly way. Before you neglect the relationships, think of how you’ll feel if you are standing at their grave. Will you regret things? Will you weep knowing that you should’ve acted differently?

My father and “Hoss”

Don’t carry hurt feelings to the grave. Don’t let words remain unspoken. We are not guaranteed another day, so live this one like it will be the last. Say what you need to stay. Apologize for things that you are being convicted over. These people may not deserve the forgiveness in our eyes, but God forgave us when we didn’t deserve it. Love them in a way that points to Jesus.

If you’re like me, you’ll want to remember all of those hurt feelings that they created. You’ll want to remember every single hurtful word, you’ll feel those words like a knife in your back. You’ll want to remember every bad thing they have ever done to you so you make yourself feel better about your actions..but remember, any hurt we could possibly face is nothing compared to Calvary. And Jesus forgave them. He spoke to them with kindness. He treated them with love. He gave them grace, even at His death.

Take it from a girl who lost her father far too soon. A girl who thought that she would have no regrets. A girl who, less than a year ago, wanted to remove her father entirely out of her life so she didn’t have to get hurt anymore…then she was reminded of Jesus and what He did for those who didn’t deserve it. She was reminded of the pain that He put Himself through because He loves us. Treat people in a way that would give you peace at the grave.

Be thankful for your father, regardless of who he is. Pray for him. Love him. Treat him with kindness. Because when he dies, you’ll wish you could take back every mean word. Every negative thing ever done or spoken towards him, and you’ll wish you could hear him again. Tell him how you feel. Tell him about Jesus one more time. Have one more conversation.


In memory of Kenneth Craig, my father.

26 thoughts on “When Dad Dies.

  1. Jennifer DeFrates/Heaven Not Harvard June 20, 2016 / 3:23 pm

    I’m so sorry for your loss. It had to be a rough Father’s Day. My father-in-law died a few years ago, and we always miss him and think about what we could have done differently or better for him while he was alive. My father is dying. The doctors don’t know for sure what his problem is or why he has dementia symptoms, so we don’t know how long this will take. It’s been about 3-4 years since it started, and we’re just taking everyday as it comes. I’m doing my best to love him as I can and be a Godly daughter for him. I pray for assurance in his salvation, but we can never know for sure. I do rest in God’s mercy though, knowing God wants to save everyone and wouldn’t turn away a repentant heart even with a damaged mind. I hope you have the same confidence for your father! Prayers for comfort and healing!


    • kalinann June 21, 2016 / 9:48 pm

      Thank you, Jennifer! I’ll be praying for you as well. My father was misdiagnosed with alzheimer’s a little over a year ago because he experienced similar symptoms, and it’s such a hard thing to watch someone go through.


  2. Tomasa June 20, 2016 / 6:11 pm

    Wow, thank you for sharing this. Praise God your father gave his life to Christ before passing away. I can relate personally to some parts of your story. It’s encouraging to read that you were by your father’s side until the end praying and ministering to him. May God continue to comfort you and your family during this time.


    • kalinann June 21, 2016 / 9:49 pm

      Thank you so much for the sweet words. They mean so much to me!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Caroline @ In Due Time June 20, 2016 / 11:58 pm

    I am so so so sorry for your loss, but your outlook on the situation is truly amazing. The fact that you can see the light and goodness in it all truly is inspiring. I love your attitude!


  4. pjkuhn June 21, 2016 / 3:06 am

    Hugs for your heart. I’m so, so sorry for the pain of not only your loss now, but the loss you suffered through the years. God’s grace is so evident in accepting your father’s confession and freely giving forgiveness.


    • kalinann June 21, 2016 / 9:52 pm

      Thank you so much! I’m so thankful for His grace; goodness knows I don’t deserve it, nor did my father, but He freely gave it.


    • kalinann June 21, 2016 / 9:53 pm

      Thank you so much. Thankful for God’s grace, I didn’t deserve it and neither did my father, but He freely gave it!


  5. Mihaela Echols June 21, 2016 / 3:13 am

    What a great comfort it is to know he is with our Heavenly Father.


  6. barnabaslane June 21, 2016 / 5:44 am

    I’m so sorry for your loss! I don’t have the same kind of relationship with my dad as you described you had with your’s, but I also don’t have a great relationship with him. Thank you for being so transparent and giving me a fresh perspective on the matter. Remember that in Christ we still grieve, but we grieve with hope! (1 Thes. 4:13)


  7. Matilda Dennis Quaicoe June 21, 2016 / 3:54 pm

    This post spoke to me…..it is a great piece of advice for those having a rocky relationship with their dads..


  8. tara8910 June 22, 2016 / 12:00 am

    I am sorry for your loss. This is a very heartfelt post. Thank you for sharing and encouraging us to be open and share our love.

    Liked by 1 person

    • kalinann July 2, 2016 / 1:54 pm

      Thank you so much for your kind words!


  9. Faith June 22, 2016 / 12:14 am

    So sorry for your loss. What a beautiful tribute to your earthly and heavenly Fathers, in spite of the struggle with this relationship. I appreciate your encouragement to focus on the living. We can do something in the here and now. As long as there is breath, there is hope.


  10. GodlyGal (@GodlyDivaGal) June 22, 2016 / 7:52 pm

    But we also gotta let go of the parents in death who were not very nice to us here on earth – to forgive them


    • kalinann July 2, 2016 / 1:55 pm

      Yes, we do! I think that was my biggest struggle with my father before he passed away. All of those things he did..I liked to hold a grudge. I wish now I could go back and erase all of the anger I felt and see what I see now..He loved me, despite his addiction and his faults, and I should’ve forgiven him much sooner.


  11. Laura Prater June 23, 2016 / 2:09 am

    I am so sorry! What a wonderful tribute to your Daddy! Sending you hugs!


  12. Jazzmin June 30, 2016 / 4:33 am

    I’m so very sorry to hear of your father’s passing! I did not realize it until this post because I haven’t been on blogger regularly lately. I’m so sorry to hear of your loss. It is extremely meaningful of you to come and write this and share your heart and your feelings about your father and about loss and life and following the Lord’s footsteps when it comes to living and our actions toward others, etc. I was truly inspired by your words and your amazing outlook and how you are trusting in the Lord as you deal and trust Him with your thoughts and regrets you mentioned. I can only imagine what you’re going through, but my prayers are with you! I am praying for you as your sister in Christ.

    Beautiful post. Enjoyed the photos of your father as well and hearing about the time you spent with him towards the end- how special that must have been for him to receive that bible from you and for you to know he got to read it! That’s wonderful.

    Blessings and hugs to you!

    My heartfelt prayers are with you.


    • kalinann July 2, 2016 / 1:56 pm

      Thank you so much, Jazzmin! You’ve been in my mind for the past couple of weeks and I was wondering how you were doing, knowing I hadn’t seen you post anything in quite awhile! I hope you’re doing well!


  13. Jazzmin June 30, 2016 / 4:35 am

    Also, sorry for the last part of the message- I had typed that twice accidentally and forgot to erase it.


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