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.

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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.

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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.

Losing your father is hard. 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

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