travel & lifestyle blog by ruth dela cruz


My First Real Heartbreak – Losing a Parent

January 10, 2024

It was my first real heartbreak.

I rushed to the hospital and found my brother outside the room crying. It was the type of scene that my main character self didn’t want to step into. I refuse to recall the memory of finding my tatay surrounded by the nurses and doctor in his room, with hospital equipment and a life support system; but I remember how I felt.

I always live in the moment, and I always find it easy to process events that didn’t go the way I wanted. Staying attuned with myself enables me to navigate various emotions—sadness, disappointment, anger—with more clarity and understanding. But I realized I would never be prepared for this type of pain. Before the year ended, I had to face my biggest fear – losing a parent.

It was late afternoon when I received the message from my brother. For some reason, I always find myself in the middle of a situation or place where I couldn’t just go. The first time when he was admitted to the hospital, I was in PH Arena which is kilometers away from home; and that night, I was in the middle of a 3-hour meeting. I was hoping things would be better but his updates were killing me inside. I logged off the client meeting and told my colleague I had to go. I decided to go. I thought I could lose everything but I had to be there.

I was already in the hospital when I read my brother’s last message, “tinapat na ako ng doctor”. 💔

I kept telling myself how that moment felt so unreal. It was like a bad dream. I was hoping it would end at that very moment, and I would wake up in my room and everything was back to my boring life.

They gave us a few minutes with him, and I talked to him. I read in an article stating that our sense of hearing is the last to fade as we pass away. I didn’t know if he heard the things I said that night. My brother and I cried. I never cried like that before.

I felt that the pain was breaking my heart. It was so hard to share the news with my sisters, especially when the last update I sent to them was that, “he was recovering”.

He was confined in the hospital for 8 days, and he said he was okay that lunchtime when I visited him. It was December 22, 2023.

This was the first death in my immediate family. Although I know at some point I will be facing this biggest fear, I always pray for that day to not come.

When the hospital aide came inside the room so they could send him down, I decided to go home and leave. I left my brother to take care of everything. I refused to look at him one last time. I know the last few moments would be more painful. I would never be ready.

I cried so hard that night.

I cried so hard that morning in church during our Year-End Thanksgiving Worship Service.

When you are in pain, you try to look back at the past and give reasons why things happened that way – so it would be less painful. You tell yourself that things happened for a reason, for the best.

I refuse to remember all the things I would miss about him and his presence. I refuse to write them here and keep the memories to ourselves. I know I would remember him more during those lazy, boring days. The biggest delusion is wishing I could still see him in the usual places at home.

They say, getting back to normal life would be the hardest of all the days.

I will keep the stories people shared with us about him during his wake. People remembered him as someone who was matikas and strong despite his thin built. He had that distinct cadence in walking we all knew. He was oftentimes suplado (we all got it from him). He was strong for his age.

We are very blessed to have shared life with him for 76 years. Although those years were not all happy, fun, and quiet days. At this age and stage of life, I consider it a true blessing to have shared my journey with my parents. They never asked us for anything or expected us to do things, But we will keep that one thing that they always told us. 🙏

Ganun pala yun, when all these things were happening (since he was confined in the hospital), you think less of yourself – you think not of your needs and emotions, you just stayed focused on what needed to be done to make things okay. After his death, we had to work on a lot of different things. I took my time and decided to share the news with family and friends 2 days after his death. I wanted to be more present for myself so I could be present for other people. The following days after his death were more about bigger adulting things.

We appreciate everyone who sent their support, showed love, and shared a part of themselves with us during this difficult time. ❤️ Thank you to family, relatives, friends, brethren, and neighbors. Thank you to everyone who offered help, and made their presence felt even online.

Thankful to God who is always with us. 🙏

I know life is not all about the happy days, and I am embracing the sad moments that keep me stronger and more faithful.

If you lost someone dear to you (a family member, a friend, or a pet), I hope you take your time. Losing someone is a deeply personal experience. It is okay to take your time to honor your feelings, memories, and the impact of the person you’ve lost. The world can wait.

Have a blessed and peaceful 2024!

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