My Experience With the Sudden and Traumatic Death of My Father

By Raymond Magno
Co-Owner Of Eco Bear Biohazard Cleaning Company

I spent the sunny afternoon playing with my friends, a typical routine for a 9-year old boy. Later, I decided to head home. I wanted to be sure to be on time for dinner my Mom was making one of my favorite meals.

As is the case for most boys in elementary school, I headed home without a care in the world. When I opened the door to our house, I was surprised to find no one at home. Being home alone was not something that happened very often.

My first stop was the bathroom. What I witnessed in that room was the first punch in a process that would strip away my carefree boyhood forever. Walking into the bathroom, what I saw before me didn’t register. But then, the red washed over my eyes. Something about the air in the room made my nose burn. After a moment, I realized that blood was splattered all over the room.

Baby Ray at his grandfather’s grave in Maine.

I stood stone still in the bathroom, looking from one wall to the next. I vaguely remember trying to scream, but nothing would come out. I stopped breathing when I realized the room was covered with blood. I gasped for air, as if I had just come up from being underwater.

I thought I hoped I made a mistake about being home alone. I ran to my parent’s bedroom, then to the living room, then to the kitchen. On the counter was a casserole dish, containing my favorite dinner uncooked. I was alone.

I sat. I don’t recall who came home first. I have no recollection of who explained to me that my Dad had been taken to the hospital.

I felt better knowing that he was at the hospital. The doctors knew what to do to help my Dad. They would take care of whatever was wrong with him … that he would be back at home and we would have the dinner I love.

I was taken to the hospital to see my Dad. At first, I sat at a window in a waiting room. I looked outside at the comings and goings of the hospital. I was eager to see my Dad.

I didn’t wait very long before my family and I were brought into my Dad’s hospital room. Once inside, a man who I knew to be a doctor told us that there was nothing that could be done to help my Dad, to make him better.

I don’t think I really understood what the doctor said. My Mom explained to me that Dad was going to go to Heaven.

I didn’t cry at that moment. I tried to be my Dad’s little man. But, I was very sad and very scared. I sat with my Dad on his bed and that is when I started to cry. I cried harder, and longer, than I ever had in my young life. No matter how much people around me tried to provide comfort, nothing eased my pain. My Dad was going to Heaven. My Dad was going to be gone. Forever.

I lost my Dad in 1979, at a time when people didn’t have easy access to grief counselors. I know I didn’t talk to any professionals about my experiences surrounding my Dad’s death. In fact, I don’t remember speaking to anyone family or friend about my experiences, my loss, my grief. I became withdrawn after my Dad was gone. I was never the same carefree kid that I was before the sudden, traumatic death of my Dad.

My Mom was lost in her own grief and despair. She was overwhelmed trying to find a way to support our family now that Dad was gone.

I did have my grandfather. He lived next door to us. My grandfather did his best to spend more time with me. But that wasn’t meant to last.

Less than a year after my Dad’s death, my Mom woke me up in the middle of the night. She struggled to tell me that my grandfather was involved in a horrific car accident. He died instantly.

This second death was a final blow to me in so many ways. I shut down emotionally. I stuffed my grief somewhere deep down inside. I instinctively wanted to avoid the pain I experienced when my Dad died.

My Mom did her best to comfort and support me, but she worked full time as a waitress at the local diner to keep our family above water.

Because of my own personal experiences early in my life, I wondered how I would cope with the aftermath of sudden and traumatic deaths when I started Eco Bear Biohazard Cleaning Company. My very first call after I started the company was for a man who died alone at his home from an esophagus rupture.

The man had a son the same age as I was when I lost my dad. Fortunately, the boy did not find his father. The boy did not see the aftermath of his death, like I did. The boy did not have those horrible images that have haunted me throughout my life. But, like me, the boy lost his father suddenly and will never get to say goodbye to him.

My sincere advice is to talk about your feelings with a grief counselor, clergy member, friend, or family member after the sudden loss of a love one. This sort of life changing event will never be forgotten. It cannot be ignored. However, you do not need to go through it alone.

My job as a biohazard cleaner is not just to clean, but also to help guide you through this traumatic, challenging experience. My team and I will be there to answer any questions you may have and provide you with the resources you need.

Visit the Ecobear website by clicking this image:

sudden death of a father: AfterTalk Grief Support

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