Grief is Complicated

Distance and relationship make it less straightforward than we expect

Traverse Davies
4 min readFeb 18, 2020


Image copyright the author — one of my father’s favourite places, his shot of whiskey. I had one as well

There is a confusing part in this piece. I left it in on purpose, it shows how fast the situation with my father changed and how much it left me reeling. Please bear with me

A few years ago my biological father died. We had only talked twice. Both times rate high among my more negative memories. The first time he told me that he wished I had never been born and that he felt like a gigolo as a result of my existence. I was ten. The second time, I had a child. I wanted to know about any family medical history. I called my biological father and told him I didn’t want anything else, just the medical history. He said to call back the next day and he would have it for me. He changed his number and made it unlisted before I called back (at the agreed-upon time).

So, that’s my biological father. It was months after his death before I even found out that it had happened. I felt guilt over not feeling bad, then I got past the guilt.

I didn’t grow up without a father though. My mother started dating a guy while she was pregnant and he was there for my birth. They lasted about three years and when he became involved with the next woman in his life, she was my step-mother. He’s been my father my entire life. It’s not a question, there’s no debate. Patrick is my father. He may not have contributed to my DNA, but he influenced who I am in a million ways, tiny and huge. He was a hippie when he met my mother and he’s a hippie right now. He lives half a world away from me.

Right now he is dying.

When Ron (my biological father) died I wondered if there was something wrong with me because I didn’t feel anything. With Patrick dying I cry at the drop of a hat. Grief overwhelms me every time I string a sentence together. I managed to not cry in a five-minute interaction with friends. I didn’t manage not to cry when talking to him though. I didn’t want to cry. I wanted him to feel okay, to not be worried about me with all that he was experiencing.

Image copyright Sandy Greenberg, used with permission — my dad in days gone by



Traverse Davies

I do survival, self-publishing consultation, and writing. Check out my blog: