My Father Died…

Two weeks ago my father, Angelo Grotticelli, died. It was unexpected, quick, painless, and all the things you wish when someone goes, but that doesn’t make it any easier. I’ll never forget that morning. Around 5am in the morning my wife wakes me up. She said my dad was en route to the hospital and my sister was coming to pick me up. I knew from the sound of her voice, I could feel it in the air that morning, this wasn’t a normal “Dad’s on his way to the hospital call”. What is a 5 minute drive felt like 30 minutes and I don’t recall if my sister and I even spoke to each other. We walk into the emergency room and the receptionist immediately brings us back to his room. About 20 steps from one room to the next turned into what felt like the longest walk of my life. We reached his room just in time to hear the doctor say my father was pronounced dead…

The last photo I took with my Dad.

Most people that know me well see that emotions aren’t really a part of my daily life. Don’t get me wrong, I have feelings and I get passionate. True emotions, where you cry, or get angry, or write something like this? These emotions I usually hold in and share with a few people. It just is the way I am, but that brings to me why I am writing this.

When my Dad passed I didn’t know how to feel. I didn’t know how to express the emotion I wanted to express, and more importantly I didn’t know if what I was feeling was “how you’re supposed to feel.” When I saw my Dad, gone, in the hospital I had tears, but not many. When I went home to spend the day with mother and call our relatives, I didn’t cry. The funeral was a wonderful military service, honoring a man among men; I teared up at times, but there wasn’t a breakdown moment. When we buried his body I didn’t even feel hurt. It was as if each moment I experienced a different emotion, but not one that made me feel like I thought I was supposed to feel.

As I came home that night I furiously searched on Google to see how others felt when their parent died. I know this sounds weird, but the truth is, watching everyone around me, I just knew I didn’t feel the same way they did. I was sad, heartbroken, and felt like my best friend and the man who understood me the most was gone forever. I just didn’t know why I couldn’t express that the same way I saw everyone else doing. To no avail, I didn’t find anything online that helped me. It wasn’t until a few days later at church that some things started to make sense.

20 Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. 21 A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. 22 So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. 23 In that day you will no longer ask me anything. Very truly I tell you, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. 24 Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete. — John 16:20–24

There is JOY in your SORROW. It was like a bright light at the end of the tunnel (pun intended). The past two weeks since my fathers passing I have had so many friends and family members come up and comfort me. Friends from high school who new my father 15+ years ago, to co-workers who never met him. The thing is, I have seen joy in every person, and it’s gotten to me. Instead of feeling sadder about each hug, card or flower I received, I saw Christ. I saw someone saying there is Joy here. I saw Christ saying your Dad may be gone but where you are is only temporary. Instead of getting sadder with each moment I ended up having a bigger smile and feeling bad about it. I realize now that this isn’t a bad thing. This is Christ showing JOY in each and every one of these people.

I am sad. I am really sad my Dad is gone. I am happier though to know he isn’t suffering. I know he isn’t having trouble walking or breathing and can eat as many cannolis as his huge heart desires. I believe if my Dad was here today and I asked him how I should feel he would say this…

Son, you should feel sad, and if you want to cry, go ahead. But I’m not here any more and crying for me isn’t worth it. I had a good life. 5 wonderful kids and your mom is the most beautiful woman in the world. I did everything I ever wanted. We had the best times together and that doesn’t just go away. It’s my time to go and that’s ok. You got this, you’re a Grotticelli, we always overcome. Identify… Adapt… and Overcome!

Thank you, Dad, for teaching me to look for the good in people and knowing that one day you would be gone and that would mean turning to the family and friends around me to find the Joy in Sorrow.

It’s ok to not feel like everyone else. This article is for you.