What Happens When Our Fathers Die?

In mental health by Tree House Recovery

The relationship between son and father is multi-dimensional, deeply complicated, and inexpressibly important. Men who have strained relations, of any kind, with their father, often face great emotional distress and issue. The trauma of abandonment, neglect, or rejection from a father to a son can take a lifetime to repair and heal. Men struggle to cope with the missing fulfillment from one of the most important role models in their lives. Men need to have a healthy relationship with their father in order to fully and happily function in life. Though men are more than capable of compensating, most men without a significant father figure in their life will still admit that a part of them feels as though it is missing.

Many men in recovery have strained relationships with their fathers or nonexistent relationships with their fathers. However, many men do have healthy relationships with their fathers or, through the healing work of recovery, are able to build healthy relationships with their fathers. If men have the chance, they might be able to spend years on good terms with their father or father figure, which is priceless and important. Later in their recovery, as life makes its natural cycle, a father will die and leave his son behind to carry his love, as well as his legacy.

Research shows that the way a father’s death affects his son is more profound than the way it might affect his daughter. Specifically, when a father figure dies, a study found that the mental and physical health of the left behind son deteriorates. An article published on Fatherly outlining the differences in the ways genders respond to different gender parent deaths cites a 2007 study. Nearly 9,000 adults were analyzed between 1987 and 1993. Data revealed that whereas women were especially vulnerable to losing both parents in a short amount of time, “Men, on the other hand, suffered the most serious mental health impacts from losing their fathers, alone.”

Recovery is not a guarantee that pain, distress, and loss won’t enter our lives. What recovery from drug and alcohol addiction gives us is the ability to deal with all of life’s happenings, like the death of a father, and be able to stay sober through the process.


Tree House Recovery of Portland, Oregon is a men’s addiction treatment center that teaches our clients how to roll with life’s punches and use the tools they’ve learned throughout the treatment process to stay on top of anything life throws at them. Call (503) 850-2474 to see how we can help you today.