My dad was always early to everything. He would chuckle at my sister and me as we rushed out the door, makeup bags in hand, protesting that we still had 45 minutes when he said we needed to be ready by 12:30 p.m. He would even do a quick stop just to make sure mascara smudged across our cheeks. But then he died, just weeks shy of his 53rd birthday. The phone call with the news was devastating. I was on my way to visit him when I received the call that he had collapsed and resuscitation attempts were unsuccessful. The sudden loss left us in shock and grief.

Dealing with the loss of my father was a struggle for our family. Therapy didn’t seem to help much, especially for young adult children like my sister and me. The experience of loss is unique for each individual, and the resources available for young adults who have lost a parent prematurely are limited. The research on parental loss during adolescence and young adulthood highlights the impact of traumatic grief, stress, depression, and other mental health challenges.

In the years following my father’s death, I experienced nightmares, anxiety, and fear associated with his passing. I missed him during significant milestones in my life, knowing he would never witness them. As Father’s Day approaches, millions of Americans will celebrate with their fathers, but for those who have lost their fathers, the day will be marked by a mix of joy and sorrow.

In dealing with the premature death of a parent, it’s important to give space for grieving, cherish memories, avoid offering unsolicited advice, and celebrate the life of the departed loved one. Remembering the positive impact your father had on your life can bring comfort and hope for the future. Despite the pain of loss, knowing that there will be a reunion in eternity can provide solace and peace.

My father’s legacy of faith and love continues to inspire me, and I hold onto the hope of being reunited with him one day. While the pain of his absence is real, the belief in a future reunion brings comfort and strength. This Father’s Day, I will continue to honor his memory, cherish the moments we shared, and look forward to the day when we will be reunited in the presence of our Heavenly Father.