Personal Essay: What losing a father really means

While most people look at it as losing the head of the family and major financial support, the loss is much deeper and leaves a lasting impact

By Buraq Shabbir

KARACHI: Six years ago, when my father breathed his last, he was just 52. The phrase, “age is just a number,” stands very true here as no matter what age your father was when he passed away, the loss is irreparable. The world tries to console you, says things like, “all will be well,” “I understand what you are going through,” etc. But all you feel like screaming is, “NO, YOU CAN’T UNDERSTAND – unless you’ve faced a similar loss which I pray you don’t have to.” On account of Father’s Day 2021, let me tell you what it actually means to lose a father.

At first, we, as a family, could not even accept that he has left us. I used to think he is somewhere far, far away but not gone forever. I would even see him in my dreams and look for him around as I would wake up. It took days and days to acknowledge that he is not coming back. That our lives have to proceed without him. That he will no longer be a part of occasions we used to plan together for the future. And that hit differently.

Every person who attended (or not) the funeral – family, friends, acquaintances, etc. got busy in their lives after checking up on us for a few days. It is just you at the end of the day who has to face the reality, accept it, and move on. Any person who learns about your loss would be concerned about finances, that if there is another male member in the family or not, and if the children are studying, grown-ups, settled, or what?

All thanks to the Almighty that finances were not what all we had to worry about, my brother and I are adults with a very strong mother who stood by us like a rock. Both of us were working by that time and that was enough to support the family financially. However, it is many other factors that come into play in the absence of a father. You can no longer sit back and chill while your parents take all the big decisions surrounding the house and family. You are supposed to give your input and take complete ownership of it. Your father is not around anymore to protect you under his umbrella if anything goes wrong. When the world gets harsh, you have to face it YOURSELF. When the world feels pity for you, you feel like telling them this is not what you need.

One major change that comes in the absence of a father is taking care of your mother. After losing a father, you get extra cautious when it comes to her health and wellbeing. The slightest disturbance in her health causes fear and anxiety. And the most challenging part is making her understand why you are being paranoid about it. She would in fact feel overprotected.

Moreover, you lose a father and there are so many out there to take up the role for unsolicited advice because even though you’re doing fairly well in life without them, you are still a “kid”. Do you pay our bills? Will you be accountable if anything goes wrong after we take your advice?

Losing a father means losing that word of encouragement coming from him. That constant support system, who assures you that even if the world goes against you, he will be there. Even if you fail 100 times, he is there to pick you up. You do not have to worry about ‘log kia kahenge‘ as long as he has got your back.

My father’s golden words for me to live by.

Though we feel annoyed at our fathers’ restrictions and advice, it is these things that stay with you even when they don’t. It remains with you forever as a guide to lead your life while your father is no more with you. On Father’s Day 2021, I urge all the children to cherish the presence of their fathers while they are around and I pray that nobody ever has to go through the loss I did.

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