Courtesy of WedMD /Men's Health | Tom Valeo http://www.webmd.com/men/features/death-my-father
My father lived with me and my family during the last two years of his life while he sank ever deeper into Alzheimer’s disease.
His behavior was frequently bizarre. He might emerge from his bedroom with three of my son’s baseball caps piled on top of his head but wearing no pants. When trying to participate in a conversation, he might blurt out passionate pronouncements that made no sense at all. “Ya see, the individualism is something that’s not already formed,” he would bellow. “You gotta fight it!”
At the same time, as the dementia brought down his defenses, all of his emotions flowed more freely. The pleasure he found in being with his family, his sense of humor, his kindness ― all of these things emerged stronger than ever.
Seeing him so exposed helped me recognize how much of him had seeped into me. I started to hear his indignation in my own voice as well as his laughter. I could even feel his facial expressions on my own face.
The loss of a father produces a complicated form of grief in a son. The emptiness created by a father’s death quickly fills with volatile emotions ― sadness mixed with relief, affection mixed with lingering resentments, appreciation mixed with sharp criticism. That’s why a man’s grief over his father’s death often emerges in disguised forms.