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My dad died alone and I don’t know how long he suffered for

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Home Forums Loss of a loved one My dad died alone and I don’t know how long he suffered for

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  • #20071

    I found my dad dead in his backyard on Wednesday evening. It looks like he fell from a ladder. The coroner said that he died of a blunt head injury. Neighbours heard him coughing for a while on Monday and he didn’t check his phone or take the bin in from Monday morning so I suspect he injured himself then. I don’t know how long lay there suffering alone. I found him 2.5 days later with ants all over him and starting to decompose. I am really struggling to deal with how much he suffered by himself. I am his only contact and support. He was 81 years old so I was ready for an expected death with me by his side. But the suffering by himself is hurting me so much. Any suggestions on how to deal with this? Is this a common scenario of not knowing how much someone suffered before the died alone?

    • This topic was modified 2 years, 4 months ago by D123.
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  • #20074

    Dear @D123, our hearts are with you for the loss of your father in such difficult circumstances and for the trauma you experienced finding him that way. We are sorry that happened to you.

    It sounds like he was an independent man who kept himself busy – bringing the bins in, using his mobile phone, odd jobs around the house. It also sounds like he was in your thoughts and that you provided him with care and support – checking in on him during the week. We hear of so many elderly people who are not given the same attention by their children. We imagine he was grateful for the connection between you and the support you gave him.

    Remember that your Dad died with all your love …all the years of love you gave him was with him at that time.

    What you have experienced is something you should not have to shoulder alone. Reaching out to the forums is an excellent way of sharing the burden of grief and we are glad you are here. We are wondering whether you have people in your support network who you can talk to as well? Family, friends, colleagues …the more you are able to share the load the better – no one is expected to take on something of this magnitude all alone.

    Finding your Dad in that way and ruminating over what happened is a traumatic experience that is probably best supported by a professional counsellor or psychologist. So can we suggest checking in with your GP who can help with referrals?

    In the meantime, there are some techniques and tools we can recommend that might help to shift your focus for a little while – giving you space to calm and ground yourself. Sending Love and Compassion can be a source of comfort;

    Instead of focusing on dark or traumatic images and thoughts, try sending him the love that’s in your heart. It’s often helpful to say the words out loud… something like “I’m sending you love Dad, I’m wrapping you up in my love”. You can say it over and over while you remember and visualise loving, peaceful times with him. If you find this helpful try doing it once or several times a day. Some people send their love and compassion to loved ones every night before bed to help with sleep.

    We also have a list of coping tools in our ‘Coping with Grief’ article on the Griefline Resource Hub which also explores grief symptoms right from the early stages on. Things like reaching out to others to seek comfort; taking care of your mental, emotional and physical health; and ways to feel safe and in control. We hope you will find something helpful here;

    @D123 we hope these resources provide you with some help and reassurance. We are here to walk alongside you as you navigate your grief journey. Please keep in touch and let us know how you are travelling.🌸


    Thanks so much for your reply. I do have some support, particularly from my wife who has been amazing and is my rock.

    Do you know if there are others who have had similar experiences? I have searched for traumatic deaths, such as murders, unfound bodies, etc and their experiences seem kind of similar. I think I need to know that what my dad went through ie. the pain and the loneliness, is not an uncommon thing.


    Hi, I’m so so sorry to hear about this. It must have been really hard to be the one to find you dad like that. My dad committed suicide, and although I was not the one to find him, I often wonder how long he hung there before it ended. As well as that, I also wonder how long he had been suffering with suicidal thoughts before he gave in. He did mention in his suicide note that he had been struggling since before he split up with my mum (that was 2 years prior). I understand how hard it is to wonder about the prolonged pain of a loved one before they reached peace, so I am sorry u are thinking about that too.

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