Hope after a deep loss: Reflections on a son’s journey with grief

In the wake of his father's death, a columnist in pain finds renewed inspiration

Chukwuemeka Uchebuakor avatar

by Chukwuemeka Uchebuakor |

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Caring for my father as he battled Parkinson’s disease was fraught with challenges, but nothing prepared me for the devastating blow of losing him since my last column.

In the wake of his passing, I found myself thrust into a world of unfathomable sorrow. His collapse a few days earlier and subsequent admission to a hospital sent shock waves through my soul, leaving me reeling with a sense of profound helplessness.

As I stood by his bedside, watching him as he slowly shut down, my heart shattered into pieces. In those agonizing moments, I felt the weight of a lifetime of his love and sacrifice bearing down upon me. Memories of my father’s unwavering support and boundless generosity flooded my mind, each a bittersweet reminder of the man he’d been and the legacy he was leaving behind.

Three days before he died, my father briefly regained consciousness, a glimmer of hope piercing through the shadows. His words in those remarkable five minutes, though fleeting, were a beacon of comfort in a sea of turmoil, and I was happy to hear his last words. Yet as quickly as the light appeared, it was extinguished, leaving me to grapple with the harsh reality of his impending departure. And Daddy died!

As the eldest son, I felt the responsibility of cultural expectations thrust upon my shoulders. To continue to reassure my younger siblings, I concealed the fractures in my shattered heart, crumbling beneath the weight of grief when no one was watching. Each day was a battle against the torrent of emotions threatening to consume me whole.

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Surviving the trauma of grief

Seeking refuge and a way to overcome the trauma, I buried myself in work and distractions, hoping to numb my ache. Yet amid the relentless demands of life, the void left by my father’s absence loomed large, a constant reminder of the gaping wound in my soul. I knew I needed other means to get through the pain.

Despite the trepidation that gripped me, I knew that I needed to see him in the morgue as a step in my journey to heal. So I did. As I entered that solemn space, the cold air enveloped me, sending shivers down my spine. Yet amid the sterile surroundings and chilling presence of death, I found an unexpected calm wash over me.

Gazing upon my father’s still form, I was struck by the peace that seemed to emanate from him. At that moment, the chaos of grief that had consumed me began to ebb, replaced by a quiet acceptance and a profound sense of closure. The experience was daunting, to be sure, but it ultimately offered me a glimmer of solace.

Grieving is a journey that unfolds one day at a time, each moment weighed down by the heaviness of loss. As I navigate this uncharted terrain, I find myself enveloped in a whirlwind of emotions — anger, sorrow, and disbelief intertwining with fleeting moments of solace and acceptance. Some days, the pain is so raw that it threatens to consume me, leaving me gasping for breath in the suffocating grip of grief.

Yet there are glimmers of light — a shared memory, a gentle touch, a whispered word of comfort — that offer fleeting respite from the storm. The grief journey is fraught with uncertainty and heartache, but it also offers healing, which is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit. I therefore take each day as it comes, allowing myself to feel the depth of my emotions, honor the memory of my father, and find solace in the promise of brighter days ahead.

Six weeks have passed since that fateful day, and though the ache of grief lingers, I’m finding comfort as well. In honoring my father’s memory, I embrace a newfound sense of purpose, a resolve to live a life worthy of his legacy. His passing has ignited my renewed desire to continue helping others facing rare diseases and other chronic conditions, turning my personal pain into a compassionate mission.

This endeavor not only serves as a personal calling, but it also honors my late father, who lived a life defined by compassion and selflessness. I hope this column encourages others in similar situations to overcome the loss of their loved ones.

Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.


Christine Scheer avatar

Christine Scheer

I am so sorry for your loss. Even when we know it is coming, it can be devastating. Thank you for sharing.

Chukwuemeka Uchebuakor avatar

Chukwuemeka Uchebuakor

Thanks Christine.

Krishnan Gangadharan avatar

Krishnan Gangadharan

Thanks for sharing your grief. I would like to reassure you that with such emotions of love and affection for your parents, you have proved that you are an ideal son for your parents. I am sure you would be an asset to the Parkinson's community at large.

Chukwuemeka Uchebuakor avatar

Chukwuemeka Uchebuakor

For me loving my parents and others is a moral obligation. Thank you for the comment.

Maria Riga avatar

Maria Riga

At least u heard the last words.His heart failed him

Chukwuemeka Uchebuakor avatar

Chukwuemeka Uchebuakor

Yes, those last words mean a lot to me.

Kathleen Karafonda avatar

Kathleen Karafonda

As a pd with advanced disease, I envy your dad's swift death. I recognize your pain, and feel it is a tribute to both of you. Time will help but not 'heal' your grief. So Sorry.

Chukwuemeka Uchebuakor avatar

Chukwuemeka Uchebuakor

Those last six days seemed to drag on forever while also passing by in the blink of an eye for me. Thank you Kathleen for the condolences.

jm davidson avatar

jm davidson

The very best book on grief that I found, and I became what I call a griefologist, is It's Okay That You Are Not Okay by Megan Divine. I recommend it over and over and have even sent copies to friends .

I read everything, watched videos, TED talks...you name it. But her wisdom made the greatest impact on me.

Our culture offers next to nothing - so many platitudes. I found great comfort in her book.


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