Welcoming my dad’s death

My dad is death and it was such a beautiful present how everything happened

I started a life quest to share inspiring stories of people truly being “alive”. But in the last months, I mainly wrote about death. But what is life without death? If there would not be death there would not be birth and all that that is in between: life. Birth and death are these intense moments of transition that can make us become aware that life is something much bigger than what we have thought until that point. Or at least, that is what happened to me as my dad died.

I saw his death come, but not only in a rational sense. Of course, I knew that my dad had cancer, that he was not nurturing his body with food since months, and I saw how physically he was slowly, but steadily, becoming weaker day after day.

I saw his death come, as I felt that he was going to die already a few days before it happened. This impressed me, as until that moment I somehow thought that the death of a person has to be something happening suddenly and will shock everyone around.

Maybe, my thinking of death as this “package containing a ticking bomb”, was the reason I was so afraid of him dying during the months we learned about his cancer. I just knew that the bomb will explode at some point, but did not know how devastating the explosion would be and that felt scary.

I was the companion of my dad as his passing approached

Everything came together on this date: the 2nd of May. That was the date I choose to leave Switzerland and “move on” with my life.

In the beginning of April, when the health of my dad was getting worst, I had the chance of being able to stay in the city where my parents were living and work in a very flexible way. My dad was hospitalized so I stayed at my mom’s place, managed all his administrative and practical issues and visited him every day.

It was an incredibly intense and emotional time. When a woman is pregnant since 8 months everyone around knows that the baby will “arrive” within a few weeks. There is this excitement, but also some apprehension in the air.

When a person has a non-curable illness or is very old it is similar in the sense that everyone knows that the person will die rather soon than later, but it is different, as nobody knows the time scale. Is the person going to die in the next days, weeks or months?

As I moved to the city my dad was living in, I somehow put my own life on the side, to fully be with him during the preparation of his passing away. It challenged me a lot to see how the strength of his body was declining, how he lost weight, could hardly stand up or needed help to even go to the toilet.

At the same time it was incredibly rewarding to be so close to him, to his soul, and witness how inside he kept evolving and growing and how his consciousness and attention moved to a much more spiritual and philosophical level as the moment of passing away came closer.

I felt very puzzled: full of extremely positive and also negative emotions. However, after a few intense weeks, I realized that I started to lose my own balance. Physically, mentally, emotionally, every part of me was getting upside down. Despite the fact that I tried my best to recharge energy for instance by spending time in nature, doing yoga or meditating. I did not know when my dad was going to die, but at some point, I realized I would get depressed by spending months living in that “limbo”, in that never ending winter.

I set a date and he surprised me by accelerating the process

So I decided that on the 2nd of May I would get back to “my life” and fly to Spain. As I told my father about this he was fully supporting my decision. But in his eyes, I could also see his sadness. Meanwhile, as “the date” was set, we also had a concrete limit to the time we could spend together. Every moment became, to both of us, even more precious.

Five days before I would leave I entered his room in the palliative care hospice and found him vomiting. He felt very sick, and even if he did not eat anything, dark liquid just came out from the top and the bottom. I got scared and felt sorry to see him going through that. I thought: “Oh no, now he also has to suffer”. But I just kept being there and waited.

After a few hours, he was already feeling better and we could even look at some old black-and-white pictures together. We traveled in time together and watched pictures. There he was as a child, as a young man doing the military service or at his mountain hut preparing goat cheese. I asked questions, he told me his stories.

The next day when I opened the door of his room he looked like a different person. The room was bright. He was calmly reading a new paper while sitting in the armchair close to the window. As I walked in he suggested going to the bar of the hospice to have a drink together. We went down with the wheelchair. While he sipped a milk-tea on the terrace, he started telling me about his passions. We talked for hours.

As I went to see him again the next day I had no clue what to expect. From feeling very sick to be very present, everything could happen. But again, he surprised me. This time, it was not only his body that was extremely tired but also his mind. For the first time, he struggled to get his thoughts together. He started to make breaks as he was talking, taking small naps between sentences.

There was much more in the room than our bodies

During these days I was looking at everything that was happening from a strange perspective. I was completely present and open, but I had no impulses to act nor rush. I was perceiving every moment, every exchange as if, besides being in my body sitting in that hospital like-room, I was also far away, like an eagle flying above us.

The next day I knew it would be the last day I would see him. I knew it because I had my flight booked for early in the morning of the following day. I knew that I may leave and the chance not to see him alive was big. But I also suspected, on a much deeper level, that it will be the last time I would see him. As I noticed how the last few days had been full of changes.

When I entered the room he was sitting on the armchair. He saw me, but could almost not speak. Every thought and every word took him a lot of energy and required time to come out. Finally, he managed to make me understand that he “just” wanted a hug. A big long hug. We led our souls talk soul-by-soul.

“Have a good journey, don’t be afraid, everything will be fine, you are great as you are, everything you did in your life was, as it had to be, I love you.”. Or at least that was what was going on in my head during that unique long hug, during which the time stopped flowing for us.

As I went out of the room that day, for the first time, I felt this strong impulse to pet the cat that was living at the entry door of the hospice. As my tears rolled down on my cheeks, the cat was just there and patiently shared that strange moment with me.

He died the next day in the late morning. He did die when I was sitting on the plane, looking at the blue sky and beautiful clouds, on the way back to “my life”. When the plane landed in Spain I turned on my phone and saw the missed call from the hospice. I knew it. Nevertheless, I struggled to believe it as it felt like being in a movie in which the director just perfectly planned the timings.