When A Biological Parent Dies – Issues Of The Heart (OP-ED)

It wasn’t long after my little boy was born, about ten years ago, at the age of 25, that I found out that I was adopted. I knew a lot of people that were adopted but all of them had known since birth, and in my ignorance I just thought that was how it was done.

Through the years I developed a relationship with my biological mother that was both tumultuous and constant; an added sector of my amazing family. Not long after meeting her, I found my biological father who surprised me with his willingness to be open and clear about his past. He left our relationship up to me, allowing me to dictate the terms of his involvement in my life. I had two beautiful parents already, so I took it slow. For almost ten years he and I inched closer and closer to a full on, family orientated relationship. He and his resplendent wife came to visit me just last year, spending several days walking around the parks, talking about family, and just devoting some of our time to each other.

Just a couple weeks ago I woke to his name ringing on my phone, but on the other end was not the relaxed, chill man I had come to know, but instead a grieving widow who had recently discovered her husband dead. He had died in his sleep from issues of the heart, a term that ended up being a major player in my thoughts over the next week or so. My initial physical reaction was tears, though inside I felt nothing. I called it shock, but there was just something I knew that needed to be resolved. I went days, reading my sister’s Facebook, shedding a few tears at the incredibly sorrowful posts his wonderful wife displayed, but all in all, I felt very little.

This lack of emotion turned to guilt really fast as I watched his family strongly mourn. I scoured the internet looking for anything that told me how I should be feeling, but in the end there was no handbook. This situation was the obscure hallmark card sitting in the back room waiting for that one customer in a million that went through something like this. Eventually I turned to what I do best, and offered my shoulder and ear for comfort, unsure of what was expected of me.

The funeral came and went, and here I was, still working, still laughing, and moving forward while my bloodline sat still in grief. It wasn’t until the last day or so that the answer came to me. It came in a strange form, more political than emotional. I didn’t go to the funeral, it was far away and very sudden, like the man I had grown to know. Funerals never made much sense to me, anyways. We hold a gathering, grieving over the empty capsule that once held a piece of this Universe’s energy. We say it’s for them, but how can it be? They are gone. We say it’s for us, but why? Does the pomp and circumstance of a funeral help us to move forward? Maybe. But that’s just in our minds.

The outpouring of prayer, biblical passage, and Holy reconciliation with death made me shake my head. To me religion, in any form, is man’s manifestation of their search for that truth and calmness inside of them. As with most everything in life, religion is an avenue to “feel better,” protected, shrouded in the calm we spend our days and nights seeking. But the fact of the matter is no priest, rabbi, imam, or guru can bring you that calm, that truth. Truth is singular, it cannot be shifted, changed, or moved. It stays the same and transcends religion, grief, emotion, and time.

So here I was, understanding the “truth” behind his passing, the cold stark realization that he had succumbed to the same ending we all will, and at that moment I realized my lack of tears, sadness, and feeling of loss wasn’t an injustice to his memory, it was a profound exclamation of the way he viewed life; quick, short, and absolutely breathtaking. The exact thing he tried to make a reality between us while he was alive, was exactly the thing he accomplished with his death. The relationships he attempted to mold between myself and his children, his wife, and his family all began to take shape under the umbrella of mourning.

It was truth of humanity at its best. It was the connection, the inability to walk away from empathy and love. In the darkest moments, pushing past difference of political idea, religious affiliation, and personality differences blossomed a bond, unspoken, between me and those he held closest to his heart. Through my eyes I saw people, devout and trusting that their “God” would bring about an ease of pain, push past that, and connect with another human out of love. Love is truth. Truth is that eternal calmness, the silence of your ego, and the wide-eyed view of a world where we stick our hands out to help, not up in surrender.

So, in the end, the answer is love, empathy, and the truest form of human connection which is pure and void of all search for that inner calm.

Featured image via Pexels available under a Creative Commons Zero license.


I am a 30 something writer passionate about politics, the environment, human rights and pretty much everything that effects our everyday life. To stay on top of the topics I discuss, like and follow me at https://www.facebook.com/keeponwriting and https://facebook.com/progressivenomad .