When You’re Seven And Your Dad Dies: The Funeral

November 4, 2010 · 46 comments

When you’re seven and your Dad dies you will go to your first funeral.

You will like that everyone seems to be paying extra attention to you, but there will be a lump in your throat that you can’t swallow down.

You will feel annoyed at the sight of the packed church because your family is big and you know there won’t be a bench to fit you all.

You will feel pleasantly surprised to find that the good people of the church thought to save your whole family a bench of your own right in the very front.

You will feel lucky.

You will see a long box and an American flag so pretty over the top. You will wonder why it is not hanging on a flag pole, where it belongs.

You will look at the faces behind you because you are seven and you like to stare and you will see Penny. Penny who is always smiling and happy, the way anyone named Penny should be.

Penny, who likes your short hair and who’s carpet you threw up on when you wouldn’t stop eating pizza at her daughter Misty’s birthday party like she asked you to.

Penny who doesn’t go to church.

And you will remember she doesn’t go to church because Misty once told you they didn’t believe in God and you said a Hail Mary for them that night.

When you stare at the faces in the church and you stop at Penny, who is always smiling and happy, and you see that she is crying with a tissue in her hand, you will have your first moment. A moment when the dots begin to connect.

Because only something really bad could make Penny look like that in a place like this.

You will glance away quickly but every face will be the same. All of them crying.

The faces will make you sad. You will stop staring.

You will return your gaze to the box and you will know your Dad is in there. You will wait for him to come out. You will know that is just something he would do to get a good laugh out of everybody. You will remain hopeful and anticipate his joke.

But he will not come out.

The priest’s monotonous sing-song voice will pull you from your dots. He will talk about your Dad’s brown eyes which will get a small chuckle from the sniffling crowd because anyone with half a brain knows that your Dad’s eyes are the most sparkling beautiful blue eyes that ever were.

You will want to punch the priest in the face for calling your Dad’s blue eyes brown.

Your sister will nudge you with her elbow and point to your little brother who is smaller than you, but smarter. Smarter, because he connected the dots earlier. You know this because he’s already crying and you won’t cry until later.

You will walk away from the packed church feeling sad. People will encourage you to sing songs and act silly because they like to see the children happy when they have lost a friend. You will play your part. You will make them smile. But the lump in your throat that will not let you swallow will not be ignored.

You will go home with your big family, but it will not feel big anymore.

When You're Seven And Your Dad Dies

When You’re Seven And Your Dad Dies: Extended Family
When You’re Seven And Your Dad Dies: Second Grade

Mama Kat Loves You When You Love Her


Danielle Smith November 4, 2010 at 8:50 pm

This makes my heart hurt in a way I can’t even begin to describe…. That a child should experience this…. and that you can write about it so clearly… wow. xoxo

BelovedAimee November 4, 2010 at 8:55 pm

made me cry. losing loved ones just plain sucks. especially for a child. beautiful post. <3

Kim November 4, 2010 at 8:57 pm

Wow, I can relate so very well to this post as my dad died when I was just about to turn 13. I never cried until I was an adult – but there was a definite lump in my throat for quite sometime. And unfortunately, the funeral stands out in my mind to this day. The way you’ve written this is extremely touching as I feel you in that little girl as I read it. But then, the little child inside of us all really never leaves. Wonderful post.

Dana @ Bungalow'56 November 4, 2010 at 9:23 pm

My seven year old daughter loves her Dad to pieces. I can’t imagine her not having him with her. She is so little. I am sorry. It makes me want to package up today and hold it like the gift it is. Thank you for helping me see a little more clearly.

Alexandra November 4, 2010 at 9:41 pm

Oh, I remember, being so bewildered.

We’ve talked of this before, my father died suddenly when I was in the first grade.

It was surreal. Everyone was so sad, but I didn’t cry. I had a lump in my throat and became very quiet after that.

So quiet.

Feels good to write about , though, doesn’t it??

Wendy November 4, 2010 at 9:49 pm

So many times you read a person’s blog and you think to yourself “okay, you are witty and clever but dangit, are you real” noone has happy shining albeit sarcastic things to post everyday (or at least I hope not cause if so I am screwed). I have been following you for awhile now, and I can honestly say this post got me. Thank you posting something so personal and so very real.

Natalie November 4, 2010 at 10:02 pm

Wow, Kat. Wow. I don’t even know what to say.

I’m 36 now, and I can’t imagine losing my Dad. I can’t imagine how confusing it must’ve been for you. You lost some innocence.

jackie November 4, 2010 at 10:04 pm

Wow, this post really got to me. Thank you for sharing.

Paula Kiger November 5, 2010 at 2:13 am

Thank you for sharing this very personal story. I feel for you, all these years later. My sister in law died in her sleep at the age of 30, leaving behind a 6 year old, a 3 year old, and a 6 month old. Watching those young kids deal with that (and loving them now as young adults) has to have been one of the most impactful times of my life. Blessings to you….

Los November 5, 2010 at 2:57 am

At that age, you think that death only is supposed to happen to old people and to other families … it’s hard to accept it … even to this day.

Sunday November 5, 2010 at 4:02 am

I went to my first funeral at age 28. It was my moms. No matter what age you are nothing can prepare you for that first funeral….especially when it is your mom or dad.

Hugs to you Kat.

Jen November 5, 2010 at 4:27 am

You were so cute, loving the bow tie.

This post is so powerful.

terra November 5, 2010 at 5:01 am

Kat – I don’t have words. You have an amazing gift to be able to put this into such eloquent words – and still see the funnier, wittier side of life. I am so sorry for your loss – but so grateful to have been allowed a sneak peek into this part of who you are. And like another commenter said – it makes me that much more acutely aware of how very lucky we are to have my dad, and my girls to have their dad.

Brook November 5, 2010 at 5:11 am

I am so sorry. The hardest thing I’ve ever had to do was tell my son that his Gramma died. My own heartbreak paled in comparison to watching his and not being able to ease it. We are all still reeling a month and a half later.

Annie @ astonesthrowfrominsanity November 5, 2010 at 5:24 am

Wow! I am raw after reading this. I feel like I know you a little better, and I am now going to go hug my kids until they scream for me to let go, or I feel a little bit better. :)

Powerful writing.

Powerful, my girl.

Oddyssey November 5, 2010 at 5:49 am

omg I cried when I read this. Even though I didn’t lose my parents until I was an adult, I can understand in a way. I lost my grandfather at age 4 and can relate to the strange feelings and trying to connect those dots.

Beautifully written, thank you for sharing such feelings.

Adryon November 5, 2010 at 5:50 am

My husband died when my daughter was 5. I did not have her attend the service. I don’t know if she’ll thank me or hate me when she’s an adult.

I am so sorry for you loss, and hope you have many wonderful memories of your Father.

Jennifer November 5, 2010 at 5:51 am

I don’t think things change a lot between the time you are seven and the time you are 30. I went to a funeral for a co-worker one time. Her adult daughter passed out at the start of the service. At the time I didn’t understand a grief so strong that you would just pass out to rid yourself of the pain. At 30 I totally got it. So I spent his funeral hoping that I could just pass out and it would be over, and that I wouldn’t because I didn’t want to embarrass him that way.

nic @mybottlesup November 5, 2010 at 5:58 am

*hugs* to you, sweet lady.

Diane November 5, 2010 at 6:35 am

Wow. I am crying right now. This gave me an insight as to what it must have been like for my son when he was 4 and his dad/my husband died. I always wondered what was going through his little mind. I was 32 and remember having those thoughts of denial at the funeral. It takes time for the finality of death to really hit you, doesn’t it?
This was hard for me to read but I thank you for writing it.

Lindsay @ Just My Blog November 5, 2010 at 6:55 am

Oh Kathy….I hate that you can write this. I hate that you have lost people that you love. But at the same time I thank you. Thank you for sharing something so personal and touching with us.

andrea November 5, 2010 at 6:57 am

Wow! This brought tears to my eyes. What an amazing recounting of such a personal experience. So clearly through the eyes of a 7 year old. I have very vivid funeral memories from my childhood (we have a large family and honestly had an inordinate amount of funerals). While I don’t know the loss of a parent I can completely identify with the confused and fleeting emotions of a 7 year old trying to process death.

This is such a powerful post.

Aimee November 5, 2010 at 7:15 am

Wow. This was so beautifully written. I cant imagine what it is like losing a parent. It must be a horrible and difficult thing and especially when you are that young. Thank you for sharing these stories with us, I am sure they are difficult to write.

Claire November 5, 2010 at 7:29 am

Such a powerful well written post. You described it so well, I felt like I was there with you. Thank you for sharing.

mindy November 5, 2010 at 8:33 am

I am so sorry for your heart-wrenching loss.

Valerie November 5, 2010 at 8:52 am

Through the years I’ve loved my Dad, and I’ve hated my Dad-and now, as he is growing older, and I am growing wiser, he is priceless to me.
I’m so sorry that you had to lose your Dad way too soon.

Kimmy November 5, 2010 at 9:13 am

This is just so heartbreaking, Mama Kat! I just pray and pray my daughter never has to go through such sorrow…especially at such a young age. It saddens me to see children lose a parent. I’m so sorry you had to experience such a loss! *HUGS*

the undomestic housewife November 5, 2010 at 10:36 am

I can’t even imagine going through that.. My heart was breaking reading your post – and that you had to suffer through that at such a young age. I’m soo sorry for your loss – I know words are inadequate.

Carol Marks November 5, 2010 at 10:43 am

Oy! And amen. “Your family does not feel big anymore.” My husband died in 2005, our children were 8 and 10 at the time. Thank you for writing this from a child’s point of view. I have since remarried but I will never forget.

Grace @ Arms Wide Open November 5, 2010 at 11:09 am

i cannot even imagine. your words here are powerful. i feel like i was sitting there with you. i ache to give that little girl a tight squeeze.

Shkar February 27, 2014 at 9:43 am

#1 DadIf he’s into coffee or tea, get him smnethiog related to that.If he likes wine, a wine refigerator and a bottle of champagne or wineTickets to a show or sporting eventClothingPoker accessoriesHandheld video games like poker, deal or no deal, crosswords, etc.Sports equipment if he plays any sportsDay of golf, day on a fishing boat, etc.Gym membershipGPSDVD playerRadio with DVD playerTools that he may be wantingThere are hats out, they look like baseball caps with an LED light built into them so when you’re working, you don’t have to hold onto a flashlight, if he does work around the house or on cars, he may like smnethiog like that.They make armbands that are magnetic to hold screws and bolts, etc, so when you’re working, you can put them there and they don’t budge, he may like smnethiog like that, so he knows when he’s working on smnethiog, they’re not getting lost around the house.Laser levelBeer tender, but those are expensive you can chip in for thoseFamily portraitDinner at his favorite restaurant, make it your treatSweatshirt or flannel shirt for when he’s outside doing workGloves and a hatJacketThey have charging caddies, they hold cell phones, iPods, etc, everything in one place so that they can be plugged in and stored in one place while they’re charging, smnethiog like that?Coin counting bankTiesThrowMassagerGo to Brookstone and check out some of their gadgetsHammacher Schlammer has a remote control cooler, it’s inflatable and holds soda, beer, etc, and it’s on wheels and runs on rugs and floors and on remote. They also have a remote control car that holds 2 cans of drinks, you can get him smnethiog like that, so he can bring his drinks to himself and have fun! The cooler is $70, so you can have someone else chip in with you. Gift card to his favorite coffee shopIf he likes to garden, get him some things for his garden, sure it’s winter, but he can put it away.Fountain for his office or homeHammock for the back yardCar seat heater/massagerAutomatic car starterMug with his favorite coffees or teas, etc.Keurig coffee maker, if he’s a coffee drinkers, it’s awesome! Makes fresh coffee one cup at a time in LESS than one minute!If he likes to cook, kitchen gadgets, cookbooks, etc.Remote control car or airplaneCologne and after shaveElectric ToothbrushElectric RazorI hope some of these ideas help and that you and your family have a very Merry Christmas!maxin_96

Sarah November 5, 2010 at 11:23 am

Sounds so much like me (parts of it) when my great-grandmother passed when I was six. So little I understood about what was happening. I ended up hiding under a table and crying in anger because everyone at the reception after the funeral was laughing and talking (to me) like nothing had happened…and didn’t they understand? I can’t imagine having it happen with your dad. *hugs*

Lessons in Life and Light November 5, 2010 at 12:13 pm

I’m so sorry you had to experience losing your dad at such a young age. It’s just not fair. I’m so sorry for your loss.

Allison @ Alli n Son November 5, 2010 at 12:46 pm

These post always leave me with a lump in my throat. What a hard thing for a 7 year old to have to go through. Is it difficult to write about?

Mimi November 5, 2010 at 1:42 pm

I can’t even begin to imagine what you went through. Heartbreaking to read. Thank you for this insight.

~Mimi from the Lamby Tribe

Andrea November 5, 2010 at 2:47 pm

That’s amazing. You captured so much in such a little bit of writing. I love how you use the connecting the dots metaphor. I had a similar but less profound experience when the first guy I ever had a crush on killed himself. It took me a long time to figure it all out. Amazingly well written.

jared's mum November 5, 2010 at 5:29 pm

i can never imagine how hard it is to lose a father for someone so young

i lost mine 3 years ago, 3 months after i lost my mother, i was 27 then but age seemed immaterial in making it less painful or less profound. i miss them every single day of my life and can’t help to feel the void they have left every so often, i can’t help but think of the what ifs and the could have beens if they were still around..

my father would’ve have been 74 last wednesday and somehow i can’t seem to bring myself to write anything about it, the pain seem to stop me from doing so..but you just inspired me..he deserves one, after all!

Sherri November 5, 2010 at 6:29 pm

So very sad, and it gives me a good perspective for the few kids I know who have lost a parent so young. I remember one of my daughter’s friends losing her mom in first grade. Seeing her climb up to kiss her mom in the casket, looking so confused yet curious, is something I will never forget.

Renee Ann November 6, 2010 at 6:56 am

Poignant! I was 28 when my dad died, and I felt like a little girl again . . .

Angelia Sims Hardy November 6, 2010 at 7:42 am

It’s scary sad how well you remember the details. :-(
I can’t imagine.

I lost my Dad to divorce at age 3. Lost him again to heart disease at age 38.

Jenny @ mamanash.com November 6, 2010 at 9:54 am

This was perfect. I was 13 when my dad died in a boating accident. My sister was 10 and my brother was 7. My dad was only 38. The hardest part for me now is that the most important people in my life today (hubby+2 kids) never knew my dad and my dad never knew them.

I’m turning 30 in a few months. My dad seemed so old when he died. I’m only eight years younger than he was.

Thank you for this post. It’s often hard to put it into words for other people.

Tracy P. November 7, 2010 at 2:50 pm

I wonder how long it took you to write this post. These posts about your dad have a startling clarity to them, as though time froze for you. So amazingly vivid. How you can string so many random snapshots together in a way that makes perfect sense mystifies me. Beautiful.

Melody November 8, 2010 at 2:10 pm

I’d like to offer a hug to your 7yr old self, but even then it would mean nothing coming from a stranger (and it would be weird)…..
So I’ll offer virtual (((((hugs))))) to your gown up self!

Mama Mary November 8, 2010 at 8:13 pm

Beautiful post, Kathy. I love the way you wrote it from the perspective of your nine year old self, taking us through those raw, innocent emotions and feelings that no child should ever feel. I was so sorry to hear that you are a part of “the club” awhile back when you commented on my post about my dad. Though our stories are very different, the grief is very similar. I would love for you to write a piece for the site I am starting, if you are up for it, or maybe even just re-post this one. Hugs and love.

Shell November 10, 2010 at 6:56 am

Great post. My dad died a week before my seventh birthday so I can really relate. I can remember being pissed because people I felt didn’t know my dad were all crying and saying “We’re sorry.” All I could think was “You didn’t come visit him in the six months he spent dying, you jerk.” They made me leave the room when they opened the coffin and I’m still mad about that. I wanted to say goodbye.

Rachael November 10, 2010 at 1:33 pm

I’m sorry you have this story to tell, but you tell it beautifully.

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