Focus on the Family

Grieving the Loss of My Dad on Father’s Day

In his final years, my father slipped into dementia and eventually struggled to remember even the simplest daily things. But he never forgot the power of the Holy Spirit working in his life.

Father’s Day is a joyous holiday where families celebrate the dad or grandfather in their lives. But like other holidays, this yearly festivity can turn from joy to mourning after losing your father. In losing my own father, my grief is real, but it is tempered as a result of the example he gave to me and my family during his remarkable life.

While my father didn’t die of COVID, his health declined due to other issues right in the middle of the lockdown. My family was only able to visit him through Zoom or through an outside window. The doctors called my mom and sisters who lived near the nursing home to say he was rapidly declining and they would allow them to be with him in his final moments. But they didn’t make it in time and Dad died without any family nearby.

I was several states away and was not able to be with my father in his final months. While I cherished our relationship in my heart, I was saddened that I wasn’t there to give him one final hug. This was an unexpected shock that added to the difficulty of his passing. Yet in the midst of the sorrow, heaven’s grace sustained me and my family as we said goodbye to this vibrant man of God.

Finding Peace in Life

Augustine wrote in his book ‘Confessions’: “You have made us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless till they find their rest in You.” My earliest memories of my father were of a restless, dissatisfied man. He sensed that something was missing at the core of his life.

Dad spent his early years searching for truth and peace. He investigated other religions, modern philosophies, self-help teachings—nothing filled the void. He couldn’t place his fingers on what Keith Green would call “that crazy missing part.”

My Father Meets His Father

Then a friend invited Dad and Mom to a spiritual retreat called the Cursillo. Even as a young child, I sensed that this weekend was the beginning of a change in my father. He met other friends during this season who explained to him that it was not enough just to be religious. To fill the hole in the center of your being, you must have a relationship with God by accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

Dad prayed to ask Jesus to be his Lord and his whole world changed.

From that time forward, the Holy Spirit gave my father wisdom like he never had before. Dad suddenly had an insatiable hunger to know God and to comprehend His Word. From then on, my father voraciously studied the Bible. In time, Dad and Mom became prayer warriors, not only for our family, but for thousands of other people.

The Power of the Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit gave my Father a boldness to tell others about the peace and joy that Jesus brought to his life. From then on, Dad never knew a stranger. He led thousands of people to a relationship with Christ—from the homeless on the street, to politicians and business people.

Since his passing, my family has been overwhelmed with stories of people who were touched and their lives positively changed because Dad led them to Jesus.

Raising Your Kids to Defend the Faith (1)

Raising Your Kids to Defend Their Faith

“Raising Your Kids to Defend Their Faith” is a series of five short videos that'll help get you started in teaching your kids the fundamentals of Christianity, so they can understand it, explain it, and defend it.

He shared with many in his lifetime—and with all in our family—the truth that a relationship with Jesus and a daily walk with the Holy Spirit makes all the difference in this life.

In his final years, my father slipped into dementia and eventually struggled to remember even the simplest daily things. But he never forgot the power of the Holy Spirit working in his life. In one of their final visits with their grandfather in the nursing home, my children were reminded of this vital truth. Though he did not remember who they were, my father gave them this final exhortation. “Be careful to nurture your relationship with God and allow the Holy Spirit to work in you. The Holy Spirit made all the difference in my life and He will do the same in yours.”

Dad’s Purpose Was God’s Purpose

Just as Augustine declared, “You yourself have made us for Yourself…,” our purpose can only be fulfilled by fulfilling God’s purpose for us. Dad not only sought to discover God’s plan in his spiritual life, but in his marriage, his family, his art, and his career. Ultimately, he surrendered to the purpose of God in all his life.

It was my father’s example that led me into a lifetime of ministry and of communicating the love of Jesus with people around the world. I would not be who I am without witnessing the powerful example of who he was.

As I entered adulthood, our relationship grew into a friendship of mutual respect and admiration. I sought his wisdom in phone calls, sometimes twice or three times a week. We vacationed together with Mom and Dad on many occasions. Every year we celebrated Thanksgiving or Christmas with them. My children also cherished their relationship with their grandfather and saw in him a reflection of the love of Jesus.

Like all of us, Dad had his flaws. He was human and struggled with his weaknesses. But he valued his relationship with God and the work of the Holy Spirit in his life and he did not want to hinder this relationship with his Heavenly Father. As a result, he was quick to repent when he knew he had done or said something wrong.

Download a copy of the Dad’s Report Card

Joy After Losing Your Father

Over the years, my father grew into a place of peacefulness and a measure of contentment. But ultimately there was still a degree of restlessness in him that we all observed. I believe it was because he knew that while he had tasted of the kingdom of God, this world was not his home.

C.S. Lewis declared: “All our modern philosophies have been devised to convince us that the good man is to be found on this earth. And yet it is a remarkable thing that such philosophies of Progress or Creative Evolution themselves bear reluctant witness to the truth that our real goal is elsewhere.”

Deep inside, I believe we all comprehend that true peace—true contentment—is beyond this world. My father knew that this “elsewhere,” this higher power, this peace, this contentment could only be found through a relationship with Jesus.

On May 11, 2020, my father, Clemens von Buseck—Grandpa, Papa, Dad—finally reached that goal when he crossed the threshold of eternity into the arms of the Savior he had pursued with a passion all his life. His restless heart had finally found rest.

I miss him and I grieve his loss with his departure from this earth—just as so many do after losing your father. But like my Dad, I too have a wonderful relationship with God through Jesus Christ, in large measure because of his example. As a result of this precious gift of salvation, I know I will see my Father again one day and together we will rejoice in the goodness of our Heavenly Father forever.

Related: Understanding God’s Love and What it Means to Follow Jesus Christ

Focus on the Family Plugged In logo

Entertainment Reviews Your Family Can Trust

Plugged In shines a light on the world of popular entertainment while giving families the essential tools they need to understand, navigate, and impact the culture in which they live. Let us help your family make wise and informed choices about movies, TV shows, music, video games, and more!
Close up of a young, pensive Asian woman listening to someone talking to her on her phone

Talk to a Counselor

If you need further guidance and encouragement, we have a staff of licensed, professional counselors who offer a one-time complimentary consultation from a Christian perspective. They can also refer you to counselors in your area for ongoing assistance.
Reach a counselor toll-free at 1-855-771-HELP (4357).

Understand How to Respect and Love Your Son Well

"Why doesn’t my son listen to me?" Have you ever asked yourself that? The truth is, how you view your son and talk to him has a significant effect on how he thinks and acts. That’s why we want to help you. We’ve created a free five-part video series called “Recognizing Your Son’s Need for Respect” that will help you understand how showing respect, rather than shaming and badgering, will serve to motivate and guide your son.

Focus on Parenting Podcast

Mom or dad, could you use some encouragement and support? Put your ear buds in for this Christian parenting podcast and get practical, faith-based inspiration through all stages of parenting. Hosted by Dr. Danny Huerta, in every 8 to 15 minute episode, you’ll hear parenting experts share Biblical truths, effective parenting techniques, and useful resources that will help you feel equipped as a mom or dad in today’s culture.
Parenting a strong-willed child resource promotion

Learn How to Speak Your Strong-Willed Child's Language

In this free 6-part video series, Cynthia Tobias, author of many popular parenting books including You Can’t Make Me, explains why your strong-willed child thinks in certain ways and gives you effective tools you can use when communicating with him or her. Start today!

Get Equipped With the Truth So
You Can Bring Light to the Lies

Abortion is not an easy subject to talk about. You want to defend the truth, to expose the realities so easily confused during these times. Yet, it is so easy to tense up, to get nervous, to get so concerned with wanting to say the “right thing” that you end up saying nothing at all. If you feel at a loss when these conversations come up, this video series, “8 Lies About Abortion,” can help equip you with the truth, and the confidence to engage in the discussion.

Next Steps: Marriage Assessment

We want your marriage to be thriving and healthy. Take the free Marriage Assessment from Focus on the Family to learn how to strengthen your bond with your spouse and get the tools to help you need to grow closer together. 

Next Steps: Fruit of the Spirit Devotionals for Couples

The Fruit of the Spirit Devotional is a free series of nine short videos to get you into God’s Word and inspire you to seek the Holy Spirit’s help in loving your spouse.

About the Author

Read More About:

You May Also Like

Handling the holidays after loss, a sad young woman sitting on a white coach holding a blanket, with a Christmas tree in the background.

Handling the Holidays After Loss

For families who’ve lost someone they love, the holidays can seem more like something to survive than to enjoy. We need a plan to help us get through what can be a very difficult time of year.