Dad Died


I've been hesitant to post this because I’ve wanted to handle it on my own, but I find myself needing some advice.

My Dad recently passed and I’m having trouble shaking it. I feel like I am too young to lose such an important figure in my life. I made a promise to him that I would live my life in a way that would make him proud. However, the grief is overwhelming sometimes and my motivation dwindles. Does the feeling of loss ever go away or do we just learn to live with it?

I would love to hear from you guys and how you think people who lost their father can find meaning again. Please don’t give your condolences, I want this thread to be strictly advice. Thank you.

Comments (31)

  • Prospect in IB - Gen
Jul 22, 2020 - 4:31pm

[post unreadable due to the pile of MS on it]

Jul 22, 2020 - 6:28pm

damn, you got a lot of MS in a remarkably fast time

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

Jul 22, 2020 - 4:37pm

Luke Smith:

I want this thread to be strictly advice. Thank you.

Spiritually speaking, many believe he is here with you now. Even though he isn't near physically, still hold him responsible for being there and his dialogue. Let him be proud of your moments and ask him for help when needed. He is still there - as a spirit.

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

  • Prospect in Other
Jul 22, 2020 - 4:40pm

Don’t feel pressured to fit into a mold or follow a specific path when it comes to grieving. Literally every human relationship is vastly different and the end of every human relationship is vastly different as well. You will move on someday and this happening in the earlier part of your life will really suck now but it will make you stronger in the future. Take time to grieve and do it your way. Don’t feel like you have to move on if you don’t want to move on yet. Good luck and just remember that people in this world love and care for you.

Most Helpful
Jul 22, 2020 - 4:40pm

I have not lost my father yet, so take what I have with a grain of salt. I do, however, through the nature of my work have to coach people on loss all the time, just this year I've had a close friend whose father just took his own life recently and had a close friend lose both parents before 25 years old and I had to help with estate stuff, moving, etc. I cannot claim to know what you're feeling, but I am sorry for your loss.

everyone deals with loss in their own unique way. there is no playbook because no one, I repeat, NO ONE on this earth who was like your father, so their loss may be similar, but never identical to yours. it never goes away, so stop trying to shake it. you never forget, you only learn to live with the loss, and some days will be tougher than others.

as for the point of life and how to be less nihilistic, I wrote my thoughts here:…

cut yourself a break, everyone needs time dealing with the initial shock, you feel like you aren't a person and that the loss is the only thing in this world. if you suppress that, it could lead down a dark path. deal with the loss, call family members who knew him and ask them how they're doing, look at old pictures of him and you, remember the good times, and don't be afraid to cry your eyes out.

then, after you've had some time to decompress, remember a time you were really proud of your dad. what was he doing? he was most likely doing something that you wanted to emulate. do that thing or do something similar. maybe he was encouraging you after you got promoted, so get back to hustling and make him proud. if he was a good father as you indicate, I'm sure he wouldn't want grief to be so consuming that it detracts from what makes you a good son. shifting your focus to living a life you want to be proud of or that your father would be proud of can help, but the first thing is to stop suppressing what are totally natural emotions to a tragedy. yes, death is natural, but so is grief, so don't run from it, because it will catch you.

Jul 22, 2020 - 4:52pm

Also, you might want to invest in a heavy bag (or join a boxing / Muay Thai gym). I would encourage it. Kicks can be quite satisfying.

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

Jul 22, 2020 - 4:52pm

Luke Smith - Don't be afraid to reach out to a professional to talk through this. Losing a family member is incredibly traumatic, and while I hope someone on this site can help you - as that anonymous poster proudly displayed, a lot of people here aren't going to be able to. Talking to a therapist or a psychiatrist isn't a weakness; it is you showing strength through addressing the problem directly and working to fix it.

All that said, I have not lost my father, but like a lot of people I have had my own struggles in life, and I have found that when I am feeling depressed, lacking motivation, or becoming nihilistic I have found that three things help:

  1. Exercise. The hardest part here of course is finding the motivation to exercise, but working out has always been a prominent component of getting myself out of a funk. The endorphins it releases and the confidence it inspires go a long way toward resetting your mind.

  2. Hobbies and Friends. This is pure escapism, but when you're down like that you need to find things that make you happy. Whatever inspires joy in your life, now is the time to do it. Better still if it is something that you can overcome, like going from knowing how to cook to actually being good at it, or finally taking the time to read a book instead of just buying them off amazon and throwing them on the shelf, or beating a video game, or getting together a cookout with your buddies instead of always saying "yeah we should do something," etc. Similar to exercise, that sense of accomplishment, whether it is real or not, will put you on the right path.

  3. Focus on goals. When the present sucks, I always try to think of the future, because the future has yet to be determined. Hell, everyone's present kind of sucks right now with COVID, so we should all be spending time identifying goals, thinking of what it will take to achieve them, and focusing more on how to execute on those objectives than everything going wrong right now.

None of that is going to make what you are dealing with any easier, but all of it should help give a jolt to your system that allows you to live the life you promised your father you would. And if you try all of it and it doesn't work, then you definitely need to talk to a professional, because there is no reason to suffer in this day and age from unaddressed mental health issues.

I wish you luck, man, but I know you have the capacity to fight through this.

Commercial Real Estate Developer

Jul 22, 2020 - 4:55pm

Sorry to hear it man, lost my dad when I was 20 - took me quite some time to process it. It was good to have family where I could really let out my feelings, and just unload. All I can say is that it does get better with time, but you'll always be longing for the good times.

Jul 22, 2020 - 5:04pm

Luke Smith:

I've been hesitant to post this because I’ve wanted to handle it on my own, but I find myself needing some advice.

My Dad recently passed and I’m having trouble shaking it. I feel like I am too young to lose such an important figure in my life. I made a promise to him that I would live my life in a way that would make him proud. However, the grief is overwhelming sometimes and my motivation dwindles. Does the feeling of loss ever go away or do we just learn to live with it?

I would love to hear from you guys and how you think people who lost their father can find meaning again. Please don’t give your condolences, I want this thread to be strictly advice. Thank you.

Hey OP,

Wanted to provide you with some guidance having gone through the same situation. I would recommend internalizing the following:

  1. Everyone will pass away at some point. The pain you are experiencing now is one that others will have to experience at some point. There is no unfair or fair in regards to this, no matter how hard it feels to see much older people with parents still around. If you can accept this, the emotions become easier to pass.

  2. The world is still a bright place and you still have your future to live. Your father would want you to chase your dreams and fulfill your goals, even in his absence. I struggled through feeling the world was a dangerous place for a long time, developing anxiety symptoms due to higher levels of adrenaline and fear. Focus harder on the good things going on in your life, and if there is a lack of such, take the opportunity to rebuild your identity in the image that you (or your father) had wanted.

  3. Be grateful for the opportunities and experiences that came from your time with him. When I feel sad, i try to hold onto those positive memories and remember that many people have terrible parents.

  4. Connect more with your loved ones, family and friends. Especially so with the eldest and youngest in your circle; I became much more appreciative for both ends of the spectrum when sorting through my feelings about my father's death.

  5. As someone young, recognize that trauma like this will be painful for a period of time. It is your choice whether that pain shall be a part of your identity or whether you can turn it into positive energy (for yourself, your community, society etc). I spent a lot of time reading about well known individuals (Anderson Cooper, Michelle Obama, Mike Tyson) who have gone through similar traumas and used it as momentum in their life. We are most receptive to change at our lowest point, so make it a positive one.…

I'll leave you with that to ponder. It is so tough to deal with this given the ongoing pandemic but I hope you can find some peace in what I've learned. Reach out if you need someone to talk to.

Jul 22, 2020 - 5:19pm

Sorry to hear about your Dad. Losing close relatives or friends for me has always been like a chunk is missing. It gets a little bit easier with time but that "missing" feeling is always there. Not as sad as time goes on though.

  • Intern in _none
Jul 22, 2020 - 9:14pm

Be grateful you had a father you can cherish.

To quote the TV show Black Monday on WSO: “When something breaks, you can’t always put the pieces back together but you can use them to move forward.”

Jul 22, 2020 - 10:32pm

I lost my mother three years ago. My father six months ago. I just turned 25 and I was not expecting it.

  1. You need to get yourself into therapy. Don't just stick with the first therapist you get. Keep trying until you gel with the right one who understands your issues, empathizes with your pain and can stir you in the right direction.

  2. Recognize that we all deal with grief differently. If you had asked any of my friends about how I dealt with my parents deaths, they would say exceptionally well. In reality, it's been the most difficult experience I've ever gone through and I tend to be a fairly resilient, mentally tough person.

  3. Fortify the relationships you still have. The one silver lining of my parents deaths is that it brought me and my siblings closer than we've ever been before and I'm grateful for that.

  4. Realize that your father is in a much, much better place, regardless of what your religious or spiritual inclinations are. Coming to terms with the fact that my parents were no longer of this earth really rattled my mind for a while, but eventually I grew to realize they were no longer in pain, turmoil and suffering.

  5. Get out of bed. Do not stay in bed. Go outside and get some sun. You may not be up for your regularly scheduled exercise routine and that's OK. But make sure you're always getting enough sunlight and time in nature. I try and take 2 hour walks into Central Park and it's done a great deal of good for me. It can really help with the mental fog and racing thoughts.

  6. Remember your father loved you and probably left this earth proud of the person you became and are becoming. I'm assuming you're atleast in your late teens / early twenties and by that time our parents have imparted a good amount of their wisdom and grace onto us. You can move in this world without your father. He's already taught you a lot of what you already needed to know.

  7. Role Models / Mentors - get one. For me, my mother passing really hurt me and it helped to find older female role models, in both work and life, to fill the void whenever I needed it. You might want to consider one.

  8. You're not going to be your most productive self for a while. You just lost one of the most important people in your life and that takes time to heal. I decided to decrease my work capacity at my job. I'm fortunate enough where doing so won't inhibit my career growth too much and I personally really needed the extra time to nurse my mental health.

Feel free to DM me if you ever want to talk.

Jul 22, 2020 - 10:43pm

its true that time heals all wounds...and right don't et have that time. There really is no way to "rush time" it will move at the standard pace. Assuming you had a somewhat normal father/child relationship (sounds like you did) then in time, probably a year or so..maybe longer....but eventually, you will think more about the happy times, the life lessons taught, and all the other good father/child stuff...rather than the sadness of the loss which is concentrated in the current moment. You had a unique relationship...every father child relationship is unique...and that's a good thing....nobody and nothing can replace yours. Take the lessons you've learned and lean into them.

just keep on day at a time...and try to make your father proud. Some day, you'll realize that living your life on your own terms is exactly what your father would want for you.

Jul 23, 2020 - 1:25pm

I find crying is very therapeutic. Allow yourself to cry and release. As thebrofessor said you can't ever shake it off, only to learn to live with it and crying accelerates the process imo. Warmest wishes

Jul 23, 2020 - 6:21pm

My Dad passed away as a result of a heart-attack the spring before I graduated college. Other’s above have shared some good advice - especially @CRE, so I will try not to reiterate too much.

Honestly, early-on in grief, some days waking up is an accomplishment in and of itself. I remember for months how any time I laughed, or was happy about anything really, I immediately felt a wave of reality and actually, guilt. As you shared, it sounds like you’re having a similar feeling where it feels tough to really engage with anything. One thing I actively started focusing on (with the help of a therapist, who I’d been seeing before, which I recommend) was forgiving myself for feeling something other than grief and sadness. Like others said, live a life that your dad would be proud of - you deserve joy, happiness, and success just like everyone else. For a while, you’re gonna have to fight everyday for that, and you’ll have to forgive yourself when you fail and the whole day just feels dark.

Just getting up, shaving, brushing your teeth, putting on regular clothes, and your favorite cologne can really help actually - it made a difference for me and made me feel a sense of normalcy in a time that most definitely isn’t (especially now it’s not, unfortunately).

Most importantly, you have to stay connected with those you care about more than ever. I don’t know your family situation obviously, but as an only child with a Mom across the country, extended family never played a huge part in my life. Talk to your friends as often as you can - for me it initially felt like I would be a rain cloud on their day or my loss would bring them down - but if they are good friends, they’ve wanted to talk to you and be a shoulder to lean on. They’re actually probably a little bit scared or intimidated to bring it up with you because they don’t know if you’re comfortable yet.

Talking about it initially was always awkward for me - there’s no pleasant way to tell anyone that your Dad’s not there, and it’s assumed in this society you have two parents when you’re in your 20s - but you’ll feel better. Still though, talking about your Dad in the past tense instead of the present is a gut-wrenching adjustment - and a lot of emotions come with that - just remember it’s ok to feel them.

Also, I found in a way that there is a certain freedom to not having my Dad around. I’m left with the assumption that if I’m proud of myself, he’s proud of me, and that can be freeing. Obviously, I didn’t know your Dad, but I think often a father-son relationship can bring very high and more importantly, a specific-set of expectations about what our lives look like. My Dad, for example, didn’t want me to pursue a career in finance/M&A, but here I am. With the assumption that if I’m proud of myself, he’ll be proud of me - it’s allowed me not to second-guess who thinks what and what my Dad would’ve thought and I feel more independent. My family is my Mom and I now, and I don’t think anybody wanted or expected that. But to her, it’s enough and no matter what, I’m enough, and we’ve become closer because of that and she supports me in everything I do.

Finally, there’s a certain strength I feel like I’ve gained from going through a loss this early-on in my life. You’ll realize that most things, at the end of the day, aren’t that important and you learn to be a lot more thankful what you have now, today.

My Dad’s father actually died when he was 16 - same thing, heart attack - and I’m confident it made him the man who raised me.

This brings me to the answer of the question - Does it ever go away? No - this grief never really does, and nothing is bringing your dad back, but the feeling of grief will manifests itself and evolves throughout your life in ways that will bring you strength, gratitude for what you have and have had, and a clearer perspective on what’s important in life.

Like other’s have said though, your process won’t be the same as mine - I just hope that by sharing, maybe I’ve brought up things you can reflect on. The process is yours and it never really ends, but it will make you better because of it.

Jul 24, 2020 - 6:52am

Sorry for your lost mate. I can’t imagine losing my old man. Get well soon but pls fix, thx.

"Full speed ahead, damn the torpedoes." -U.S. Navy General Farragut
Jul 26, 2020 - 2:50pm

Mom in my case, but I know how difficult it is. I haven't fully solved it after 3 years but I can tell you what's generally helped, which is understanding that I am an important figure to others in my life (my dad, my brother, and my future hypothetical family).

In my mom's final days, I had a huge amount of guilt over not spending enough time with her over the years. At the time, my only fix for that guilt was telling myself that I'd "make it up to her" by accomplishing great things and essentially making good on all the time I invested into my career at her expense.

I later realized that was bullshit. No matter what I accomplish (not that I've accomplished anything great, but I've had a few ups), I can't change the fact that I failed her. I realize that now. While admitting that was hard, its been healthy for me to understand that the best thing I can do now is not fail anyone else.

As it applies to you, you may be able to find more happiness by making others proud. Good luck.

  • Analyst 3+ in Research - Other
Jul 28, 2020 - 10:51am

Not my father, but I lost my mom a few years back when I was 23. In my experience, the feeling of loss doesn't leave you. The intense grief does and feeling that life has lost meaning though. Over time, I found that I think about her less as it relates to the circumstances of her death, and more about the beauty of her life and my relationship with her. Anger at the hand I'd been dealt turned into gratitude for the gift of mother. It takes time.

As for your day-to-day life, reiterating what was said above. Get out of bed in the morning. Exercise, eat well, take care of your body. Hang out with friends. Try to stick to your routines. Keeping some sense of normalcy about life definitely helped me.

Finally, be open to help, whether it is through friends, a professional, or people you might not even expect. People want to help and part of the challenge is letting them.

Be well!

Jul 29, 2020 - 6:44pm

I felt similarly, I agee with this comment. I lost my dad a couple years ago. I feel that losing someone dear is like a deep, deep wound - in the first months a gaping hole which hurt when anything reminded me of him, then over time it starts healing and it hurts less, but a scar and a hole still remains. I still miss him but now when something reminds me of him I think of him fondly and I smile.

What I think would have helped me cope better is to verbalize the loss more, discuss with family, grieve together - I think we tried to avoid causing each other more grief so we didn't bring it up, but I think we should have been more openly reflective.

You could also consider talking to a professional - companies typically offer counselling.

Importantly, be kind to yourself. Work could feel unimportant in the initial months and it is harder to find motivation, hopefully you have a boss and work colleagues who are understanding (I thankfully did).

Jul 28, 2020 - 3:30pm

A few years ago I read Option B by Sheryl Sandberg (Facebook COO), which she co-wrote with Adam Grant (famed Wharton psychologist), after she lost her husband to a sudden freak death while on vacation.

I'd highly suggest you read it and while it may be tough to get through in parts (as I'm sure you'll deeply relate to some things she shares), her perspective supplemented by that of Grant is very insightful and offers some great advice on how to move on and process, especially in the context of work.

  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Jul 29, 2020 - 6:44am

I lost both my parents in a 2 years time frame, and mind you I was not even 16 and did not have acess to counselling and all I had to do was grow-up and take decisions for myself to make sure I do not end up on the streets.

I defintely understand the pain or at least the experience because every person grief is unique. My biggest advice for you is to look for professional help, if you can because only talking about and facing it will help you get better and also it truly does get better with time but you will still have random breakthrough, crying at night for no reasons even 3 years down the line.

I understand the fact that you lost motivation, same happened to me and due to this I still have unpopular view about life to this date, GET HELP and find whatever it is important that will keep you going, for me it was to become as successful as possibly can and that is actually still one of the key driver for me, you will find yours.

for the 1st comment, I know WSO may not be the place to post this but this is serioulsy not a joke and if you have nothing nice to say please refrain from commenting. Things like that make me rethink going into finance completly if these is the type of people I would be working with/for daily, I wld rather stay poor.

Start Discussion

Total Avg Compensation

September 2020 Investment Banking

  • Director/MD (17) $704
  • Vice President (45) $323
  • Associates (257) $228
  • 3rd+ Year Analyst (37) $203
  • 2nd Year Analyst (143) $153
  • Intern/Summer Associate (134) $141
  • 1st Year Analyst (567) $130
  • Intern/Summer Analyst (547) $82

Leaderboard See all

Jamoldo's picture
LonLonMilk's picture
Secyh62's picture
CompBanker's picture
Addinator's picture
Edifice's picture
redever's picture
frgna's picture
NuckFuts's picture
bolo up's picture
bolo up