On My Father’s Death, Travel and Learning to Live Life


Just recently, I find death scenes on TV a bit weird and funny.

Those scenes when the actor would act lifeless and then followed by a dramatic song. He was trying to say something then closed his eyes, turned his head sideways, and then died. Some of the directors include shots of the hand falling from the side of the bed.

At one point I ask, “Is this how we make TV dramas?”

And then I realized, with all honesty, this just boils down to the fact that I find these scenes fake, because I know how a person dies. I just know it because I’ve seen it, felt its immensity when my father passed away. I was holding his hands so tight, looking at this face, counting the rhythm of his breathing. He was so weak he could not even blink his eyes, it was just open looking from afar.

 “Tay…Tay”  (Dad) I kept trying to talk to him but no response. Tears fell down my brother’s eyes when he whispered something to my father. I knew it was coming. I tried to reason out, maybe it was okay to accept this to finally end his suffering with liver cirrhosis, but my heart was turning heavy by just thinking of losing my father.

Heavy breathing. That was it for a few minutes, or hours? I didn’t know.

I was just there holding his hand looking at him intently. Suddenly, the heavy breathing slowed down, interval has become longer from one breath to the other. Then he made this unusual facial expression, like he felt a heavy blow of pain for the last time and then it went away, forever.

He stopped breathing.

I couldn’t explain it clearly but I felt the world has become a huge slow motion. I felt I turned deaf for a few seconds, every sound was echoing inside my head. Then, I heard my brother calling out my father.

I was still holding his hands when I realized that tatay’s (Dad) eyes were still open. I put my palm on his forehead, slowly slide it down to close his eyes. Then that was it, I suddenly felt my heart has turned so heavy, so painful I could even feel the physical pain on my chest. A throbbing pain that I felt I needed to release. I cried. I cried so hard, like I never cried before.

I haven’t recovered yet, but I knew at that time I had to step up and be strong, especially when I heard my mother’s anguish. I felt goose bumps from her scream, she was shouting why my father left her. All our lives we’ve been taking care of my mother because of her health condition, the death of my strong father just didn’t crossed our minds.

Losing a parent is sad and lonesome, and painful. It was like you were being transformed into a kid again. You mustered the pain without hesitation, and cried like a kid again, not minding about the world.  You just wanted to cry and let go of that pain in your heart.

Father's Death Travel Live life

But that’s not the hardest part.

The hardest part is facing the world every day, then you realize you don’t have a father anymore, that you won’t be able to see him again ever. He’s been a good father, that’s why it was really hard for me, for us, to simply just let go.

At one point, I thought finally I was okay, because I don’t get sad that often whenever flashes of his face crossed my mind. Or whenever I remember myself taking care of him every night when he was really sick. There were times that I go to work without sleep because I had to care for him but I never complained. I was willing to do everything for him.

We had so many memories, when I was a kid. Until that day when he told us that he felt his tummy was getting bigger, until he was diagnosed of liver cirrhosis.

I was busy with work. I was busy being a father to the house when he left. Then one day I was inside the van, going home. The lights were off. The driver turned on the radio and the first song was played. It was Phil Collins’ You’ll be in my heart. Suddenly, I thought about him, and realized, tears were falling down my face. I couldn’t help it.  Damn, I was crying for a Disney song! Then It was like my ears suddenly has this extra power that I understood and felt every lyrics of the song. It says, You’ll be in my heart. I cried hard that night again while commuting. Good thing the lights were off so no one noticed, and in case someone did, I just didn’t care.

I realized it’s not okay to pretend that everything is fine by blocking your emotions. Let the pain sink deep in you. Let it hurt, until such time that it doesn’t hurt that much anymore.


Just like those times in my life when I needed some clarity, I knew that the only way for me to cope with my father’s death is to travel, go to a strange place, breathe some fresh air, clear my mind and let go.

I climbed a mountain, chased some waterfalls. My body ached because of the strenuous physical challenge going on top, but I never complained and for the first time, the physical pain felt good. I was fiercer when I felt sore and even shortness of breath. There was even a time when I told myself, “this pain is nothing, nothing to the pain I feel inside, every single day.”

People go to the mountains for their own reasons. If some are mending their broken hearts, I hike to cope, to find some answers.

I also traveled to some secluded, beautiful islands in the Philippines. If there’s one thing to be thankful about everything is the support of my girlfriend. We traveled to some of the best beaches in the country, enjoyed marveling at those fine white sands and pristine beaches. And during at night, I find joy in feeling the sea breeze, the waves relaxed me, calmed me. When we were in an island in Quezon, I saw a silver lining while looking up to the clouds. I’ve never been so reflective during my travels before until my father died. In that beautiful afternoon, I was holding my girlfriend’s hands while looking up. For the first time in a long time, I’ve finally see the world, my life, in a positive light.

Father's Death Travel Live life

 Learning to Live Life

Seeing my father took his last breath, made me realize the realities of death and the shortness of one’s life. Taking care of him from the very beginning up to the last, made me value more of the things that matter. Now I go all out for my family, loved ones, relationships and my passions.

I hug my mother whenever I can. I text my girlfriend that I love her whenever I’m at work. I prioritize my niece, my nephew, my siblings all the time. Family first and I mean it.

I continue to do my best at work yet I don’t let it define myself anymore. Now, it’s just a small part of my life. I go home earlier. I travel. I write. I follow my passion and I live life.

Death…I  felt it to the core when I closed the eyes of my lifeless father. There is pain in  letting go and moving on, yet it gave me strength and lessons, that life is just a fleeting moment. Focus on what matters. Spend more time with your family, your parents, and your kids. Do what makes you happy.



  1. Amy

    This is such a moving story, thank you for sharing. I’m glad that travel has helped you to cope with losing your father, it sounds like he was a lovely man.

  2. everything happens for a reason. My sister left us when I was 11 but the feeling was the same as yours. This post shows the other side of a traveler. A deep reason to travel.

  3. I can still feel the pain and sadness reading this article.. Anoooo ba naman to Jon. Kaiyak.. 🙁 Though, Im not sure how it feels like losing a father and I dont want to think that day will come. Im not ready. But I remember when my lola was dying she was just holding my hand and saying nothing.. *Teary eyes na ko. Ito siguro yung magandang sabahan ng kung pwede pa ba ng One more chance.. but hindi na e 🙁 I hope we could be with our love ones again in heaven.

  4. I just came from Cathy’s blog and read and commented in her article about her father. I can relate with you two both as I’ve also lost my father. It took me quite a long time to recover. I wish I knew then the power of traveling, that it’s one of the best ways to heal one’s soul. But back then I was just a college student, very young and clueless about how to handle the loss of a loved one.

    I know how you feel about missing your father and the pain you had to go through. But I’m glad that you’ve seen something beautiful from a heartbreaking experience. I know your father is proud of you.

  5. This is so deep but worth a time to read. I can feel the emotions you had that time. Losing someone is not that easy. In time, all will be fine. Keep traveling, and I salute your gf for being so supportive of your travels too.

  6. cathy

    I feel you, Jon. I held my father’s hand for a long hours while he was laying unconsciously on his bed during those times without any thoughts that those would be his last hours. I believe all dads are amazing, and they are our super heroes. And there it goes, travel. It’s sure one way to cope with someone’s death. You can move on later in time. Like me and the rest of my family, we all did. It ain’t easy but you’re strong. Xx

  7. Such a moving story Jon! Death in the family really changes our lives. And it only gets better with time but it’s something that cannot be forgotten. It’s good that you have travel, friends, family and your gf to help you cope.

  8. Couldn’t help but tear up when reading the first part of your post. Anything that reminds me of parents passing away I get all teary but I’m so afraid of losing them. Sending you all the hugs in the world! Losing someone does seem to put everything in perspective 😀 we have to live our lives to the full! Thanks for reminding us <3

  9. The moment when a person who is alive and breathing, suddenly ceases to be, is something that words cannot describe. So also the effect it has on the near and dear ones. My heart goes out to you, I know words assume insignificance against Death, and it takes a long time to come to terms with the loss. But the void still remains along with loving memories.

  10. Naalala ko na naman ang pagkamatay ni Tito Alding….sobrang lungkot ang naramdaman ko dahil nga sya ay isa sa mga napakabuting tao na nakilala ko….Love this blog….Yaan mo Don2 habang lumilipas ang panahon hihilumin din ang sakit na ating naramdaman.Lalo na sa inyo sobrang hirap para sa part nyo.God bless your family.

Comments are closed.