Stages of Grief: What Therapy Doesn’t Teach You About Burying Your Dad


I get feelings of contempt here and there when someone tries to sympathize with my loss. They don’t know the feeling of wanting to hug the fresh dirt that now surrounds my Dad’s casket. They don’t know the hearts I had to hold so they didn’t break. They didn’t know that I held my father’s heart the same way until it gave out. They don’t know how I watched my sister fall to pieces, watched my Grandma say goodbye to another son, watched my family say goodbye to their favorite cousin.

They don’t know the alcohol that didn’t sit – didn’t inebriate me enough to not feel what I felt, didn’t drown me enough to forget what happened. They don’t know what it’s like to be without you.hey don’t know the cigarettes I smoked to get closer to you. Or the throats I would have choked rather than to live another day without you.

They don’t know what it’s like to be without you.


You were hospitalized in April. Congestive Heart Failure. You were swollen – retaining water, and you couldn’t walk. I thought maybe, just maybe, if we made some changes to your lifestyle when you came home, things would be okay.

You would live a little longer. You would be a little healthier. We can take walks around the neighborhood. You can cut back on fast food. But you didn’t, and I wasn’t there to stop you.

I wasn’t there for you.


You quit the crack. That’s what you said. It’s October now. And my Grandma has been in Mexico for two months. She comes back today. October 21st. Her flight lands at 1 pm. My cousin is giving her a ride home from LAX. They are on their way to you. My cousin gets off to open the door for Grandma, but something’s wrong. You’re not answering the door. My cousin looks inside the house through the front window. Sees you on the couch – lifeless. 

Something’s wrong.

He climbs onto the roof, flings open the upstairs window, jumps inside and runs downstairs. It’s too late. You’re already gone. Maybe 2 hours, maybe 1. Maybe just 30 minutes. Days later. We find a crack pipe hidden where you had your fatal heart attack. 


Sometimes the sadness and loneliness show up in the ugliest ways. Like in the bed of an asshole who treats you like shit. Before you died, I had the strength to say no, leave me alone, don’t come back here, fuck off, goodbye. But I didn’t want to lose another man I kind of loved. Considering I only loved men that hated themselves. So, when this asshole’s insecurities started playing out in the forms of carnal damage, I stayed. 

I didn’t drink too much, or smoke too much weed, or take too many bars, or do too much cocaine, or sleep with random men, or cry. I laid in the arms of a man who hated hurting me but did it anyway. Maybe, I felt like I deserved it. Like I wasn’t worth saving. Let this man kill me, cause I’m too chicken shit to do it myself. If that’s not the worst depression, tell me, what is? 

I remembered when I told you I was going up north for school. I thought it would break your heart, leaving you like that. I wasn’t asking for permission, just letting you know, but you already knew. You said, “Baby, It’s okay. We all knew you would eventually move far away.” You saw me. You knew me. And then you died. 

You didn’t raise me; you didn’t discipline me right, but you talked to me, and you knew what my depression looked like. When I was in a deep, dark hole and you weren’t you knew how to get me out and see the light. I’m sorry I couldn’t do that for you, too. 


I don’t visit your grave. Ever. I figured there was no point in visiting a rotting body if it won’t do anything for you or me. So, I visit you in my dreams. Or maybe, you visit me? All I know is up until my last dream you were always the same shitty Dad I loved. Sometimes you were short with me and couldn’t look me in the eye sometimes you were in jail sometimes you were back home and hugging me but you were always upset. You weren’t happy in those dreams. You weren’t pleased with me, or content with yourself. 

But in this last dream, we were connected. You were tender and cared about yourself. In this last dream, unlike reality, you had even forgiven yourself. I wasn’t traumatized and you were emotionally stable. Was this your heaven? Where the family you helped create was okay and not so fucked up? We laughed and my face caressed yours like a cat rubs her face against her human’s face. I never showed you that kind of love in real life. In this last dream, you let your guard down. That’s how I knew you were finally okay. 

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